The Thing That Wouldn't Go Away
Thursday, 18 June 2020
Fair warning that this is more of a life update than a book update. There is not much book update to tell you on account of the contents of the life update! From here, the book and the life are hardly separate. I'm not sure where one ends and the other begins.
Locked down mothering.
Saturday, 9 May 2020
After confidently asserting in my last update that I was on the mend after CoViD and picking things up again, I've had a bit of a setback. This seems to be how it goes. Snakes and ladders. Greetings from my bed.
We've had a flurry of book pledges after one of my tweets went semi-viral last weekend, so now just a smidge off 63%. Getting there! I must remember to promote the book…
Tuesday, 28 April 2020
I'm sorry for the radio silence; everything has happened. I've been thinking of you all often and wondering how you are. Do get in touch, if you'd like, and let me know how you're doing amidst all this. I would love to hear from you.
I came down with the virus five weeks ago and have been really quite poorly. I had throat and chest infections subsequently but managed to dodge hospital, thanks largely…
Thinking the Unthinkable
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
Let's talk about intrusive thoughts.
Research suggests that most of us get them - those thoughts and images that pop up unbidden. For lots of us, they can be distressing and/or involve things that we might hypothetically do.
I might jump in front of that train.
I might kick that dog.
I might shout something racist in the street.
(It’s worth pointing out that intrusive thoughts can be…
'A Sturdy Dame, and a Wilful'
Wednesday, 19 February 2020
You might remember that the title of this book - 'All My Worldly Joy' comes from a letter to Henry VII from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. I think of her sometimes - 12 years old, newly widowed and heavily pregnant, alone and unprotected in what was then a lawless region. She went to her brother-in-law's for safety and almost died giving birth to Henry. She never conceived again…
Short days, long months, writing and not writing
Saturday, 18 January 2020
Dearest 317 supporters,
It feels like the 317th of January - how is it still January? - and I just wanted to check in, really, and say that I haven't forgotten you. Thanks for being the invisible cheering crowd that I envisage when I hit the brick wall of "I can't do this."
I did lots of bookwriting in a frenzied burst a couple of weeks ago. My friend Nikki and I went to the Isle of Wight for…
Christmas sheep and self-care
Tuesday, 17 December 2019
First of all, I've been meaning to write the last couple of weeks and tell you - in case you haven't seen already - that the perinatal peer support principles are here and ready to use. We launched them at Peerfest in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, and I also published this blog post about co-creating the principles. The Peerfest team had originally capped the number of participants…
Pretty Good Year
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
Today marks one year since everything shifted - both for my life and for this book. That evening, my husband packed his bags and got into a taxi and then the house was quiet and I was a single mum.
I was a few months into the crowdfunding campaign for All My Worldly Joy and realised I suddenly had much less time and money that I had been counting on to get this done. I wrote this…
Get your diaries out!
Wednesday, 16 October 2019
I just wanted to touch base with you all, as it's been a little while, and to share a couple of bits of news and an invitation.
We passed 300 supporters (yay!) and are now 56% funded. Things have slowed a bit lately, partly because it's been summer and partly because I'm writing the damn book, plus working and singlemothering and it is a lot, so I don't have much time to be in people…
A small milestone.
Friday, 23 August 2019
I did a brave thing last night. OK, technically I did it by accident but it totally still counts.
I sent a chunk of All My Worldly Joy to Unbound! My commissioning editor, Fiona, asked to have a look, to see how it's coming along. I've been really anxious about this, about someone other than me seeing any of the draft. I sent one to a few people about a year ago but it's been…
Tuesday, 2 July 2019
Some friends and I decided a while ago that co-production is like teenage sex: hardly anyone is doing it - most don't even know how to do it - but everyone thinks that everyone else is doing it, and so everyone pretends that they're doing it. This is still mostly the case, but there are glimpses of progress. Maternity services are embracing 'co-creation' as service user led MVPs (maternity voice partnerships…
My Baby, Psychosis and Me
Sunday, 16 June 2019
Hi everyone, just a quickie from me - as it's currently late on Sunday night and I need to be on a train to London early tomorrow morning for 'I is for Insult - Questioning "Borderline Personality Disorder"' - I wanted to recommend to you a documentary called My Baby, Psychosis and Me. It's filmed in the psychiatric mother and baby unit where I was a patient in 2014, and not long after I left. This…
Woah-ah, we're half way there-re....
Sunday, 2 June 2019
I've been singing Livin' on a Prayer all day. My singing, as Arthur once succintly described it, is "a bad noise". But - it's true - we are HALF WAY THERE. We hit 50% over the weekend. This is so, so great. And I owe you all an update so here goes.
Apparently no Unbound campaign has ever reached 50% and then not completed funding to produce an actual book, so that's encouraging! Given that…
Breastfeeding, formula-feeding, and the NCT
Sunday, 5 May 2019
Many of you will have been following the recent controversy around the NCT and infant feeding. The NCT president, Seana Talbot, resigned a couple of weeks ago, stating that she felt the charity was moving away from its original emphasis on breastfeeding and birth towards more generic parent support and perinatal mental health. Zoe Williams responded in the Guardian, citing the harm done by militant…
It's maternal mental health awareness week!
Monday, 29 April 2019
I just wanted to let you all know about UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week, which is happening right now! It's run by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, and AnotherMother has created this really rather gorgeous overview of the week. There are lots of opportunities to get involved, and discussions on topics such as breastfeeding and medication, post-adoption depression…
Sunday, 7 April 2019
If you’ve ever been referred to a psychiatrist, chances are you’ll have received a letter after every appointment. This letter is not addressed to you: it’s from the psychiatrist to the GP - about you. You are copied in. These clinic letters are one-sided and they are subjective, and subsequently they have the potential to be all sorts of upsetting. They can include observations about your appearance…
Saturday, 23 March 2019
I wanted to share with you this shiny new video from Netmums, who interviewed me over Skype about birth trauma and maternal mental health. I explain about postnatal PTSD, talk about my own experience very briefly, and signpost to some support available. (I tell you this from memory: I have a policy of not watching or listening to myself at all as I know I will only dissolve into…
Sunday, 3 March 2019
This is a little off-topic but bear with me. I suspect the maternal mental health / feminist parenting overlap is a significant one. And I want to talk to you about vulvas.
It’s been niggling at me for a while that, whilst little boys almost universally have a ‘willy’, there is no equivalent for little girls: there’s no child-friendly word for vulva in common enough usage to be…
Sunday, 17 February 2019
Birthdays after birth trauma are funny things. They’re times of joy and celebration of a much-loved child, and yet they’re also ‘crappiversaries’ – a concise if rather twee name for the anniversary of a traumatic event. I’m not sure why crappiversaries have to be a Thing, and yet somehow they are. You can ignore them, but they insist. In a way, it’s like the events of a year ago…
Friday, 4 January 2019
Hope you all had merry Christmases and happy new years. I’ve not been particularly in the mood for festivities this year, if I’m honest, but I’m looking hopefully to 2019. I am just picking up the crowdfunding again – we've just reached both 35% and 200 supporters. That’s more than a third of the way there. Yay. Writing has really taken off this past month or so. I finally followed…
Try to have your writing make sense.
Monday, 17 December 2018
Back in the day, it was all about webforums. I frequented numerous of these online establishments – despite, of course, the fact that I was deeply trendy and had many, many friends in the real world, obviously… My favourite was a poetry forum called The Poetry Free-For-All, or PFFA. I wrote angsty poems, like most teenagers do, and it probably comes as no surprise that I was exceptionally…
Monday, 26 November 2018
First of all, thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt, overwhelming responses to my last update. I’m sorry that few of you got more back from me than variations on “Thank you x” - I was just so depleted at that point, and had used up all my words. I am still quite short on conversation, to be honest. But please know that your kindness and support really does mean the world, even…
Snowdrops and witch hazel
Monday, 19 November 2018
I'm learning that a book is two stories: the story within the book, and the story of writing the book. The two merge and fuse and blend in all sorts of unexpected ways. I'm currently reading Tom Cox's Help the Witch, a collection of ghost stories and almost-ghost stories. They’re unsettling in a way that I find strangely satisfying. And as I read them I remember his blog posts from…
I trust you this much.
Thursday, 25 October 2018
Last week was quite a big one for AMWJ. We surpassed both 150 supporters and 25% funding, and, at the time of writing, we’re currently cruising a cool 28%… I was also interviewed by the NCT about the book, which was grand. Welcome on board to all the new supporters, and thank you – it means everything that you’re here. If you’d like to, you can catch up on the journey so far.…
Growing Up Mental
Saturday, 29 September 2018
Yesterday two rather brilliant book-things happened: we smashed 20% - and 21%, in fact – and I finished the first draft of the first chapter.
This chapter has been a bit of a tricky one: basically what happens in it is I get pregnant. (Spoiler alert!) But there’s also some necessary background info about my decidedly colourful mental health history and I need to present that without…
The Fraud Police
Monday, 17 September 2018
I guess this is less of a book-writing update and more of a not-book-writing update… Truth is I’ve been feeling somewhat flattened the last week or so. Part of this is that my husband, Jon, has been working away in the Netherlands, and I missed him. He called to tell me how enthusiastic the Dutch are. The company he was visiting declared it ‘British Week’ in his honour. ‘British…
Friday, 7 September 2018
So today we reached 15% and we are rapidly approaching 100 supporters. Tremendous. The Positive Birth Movement also very kindly featured me on their blog. Thank you and welcome on board to everyone who has pledged recently. If you fancy, you can catch up on the previous update here. And do let’s be pals on Twitter, if you are of a tweeting persuasion. I am @cooksferryqueen.…
Thursday, 23 August 2018
We’re at 10%!
Ten may not sound like a lot of per cent but this is a big project and I'm awed and thrilled that we've reached it so soon. Thus far 62 glorious individual humans have pledged for the book. When we launched, Fiona (the commissioning editor at Unbound) said to me, “10% is your first target,” and it felt impossibly distant. Then we hit 5% in the first 24 hours…