Category Archives: Mental Health

Hi, My name is


My name is Joanne.

And I have mental health problems.

Seems easy that doesn’t it?

It’s not. It’s hard. It’s really hard.

It’s one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to admit to myself.

That I had problems and I needed help.

That I needed help more than I could ever have imagined.

The trigger of my illness? My daughter suddenly passing so unexpectedly. Things I saw on that day. Things I didn’t want to see. Things I didn’t want to hear. Things that I had no control over. Things that I couldn’t stop. Things I couldn’t change.

Of course I was grieving for my daughter but I thought I was normal. I thought everyone grieved like I was.

Turns out that I wasn’t though.

I was one of the lucky ones. If you can call me that. I didn’t feel lucky after losing our daughter. Although I was lucky. Lucky to get quick access to an amazing NHS psychologist – because if I hadn’t have done, I know that I wouldn’t be here today.

That might sound dramatic. It’s not though, it’s the truth.

My darling husband realised that I wasn’t functioning as I should be. That I wasn’t grieving like he was. That I was different. That something was wrong.

I didn’t want to believe it. I’m glad he made me go to the doctors though. It saved me.

I was diagnosed with

Severe Anxiety

Severe Depression

Severe PTSD

Panic attacks

Complex Grief

So, as you can see. It turns out that I wasn’t just grieving.

It’s roughly 4 years down the line now since my first psychologist session, when I didn’t really say much,I just sat and cried and then got angry. It’s a little different nowadays I talk more, I pour my heart out sometimes. I was there just last week. It’s not an easy fix to deal with mental health problems.

It’s hard work.

Its emotional.

It’s heartbreaking.

It’s torturous.

But as the old saying goes, “it’s good to talk”. It truly is.

Some days I can’t function. I feel like I’m failure as a wife, as a Mum, as friend … as everything.

These illnesses nearly cost us our marriage, nearly cost us the chance of having more children. I could’ve ran away. I wanted Dan to be with someone who could make him happy. Not to be with someone who cried herself to sleep most nights, that woke up and didn’t want to speak to him, that didn’t want to socialise. I wanted to leave so he could be happy. But he loves me more than I could ever have imagined and he stood by me and he’s my rock.

Social media is full of all these fabulous photographs that are photoshopped, edited, filtered – often we only see what people want us to see. They want you to see that their life is perfect and oh so happy.

So here is an unfiltered, unedited, unattractive photograph of what I looked like after a very recent anxiety attack and this is after nearly 5 years of having them. I took this 3 weeks go, not knowing if or when I was going to show it – but today seems right to do so, on World Mental Health Day. There was a trigger for this attack, I’ll talk about it in another blog when I’m ready …

After this attack, I was burnt out for a couple of days. It’s not like this just for a few minutes, the after effects always last a few days and it takes a while to piece me back together – but Dan and Leo always do this for me and help me through it.

So now you’ve read this, I’ve said this before.

Time to text that friend who you might not have heard from in a while, that might have been distant, that might have seemed rude last time that you spoke to them.

They could need that text more than you could imagine tonight. Offer them a brew. It might take them 3 months to take you up on the offer, but they will, when they’re ready. Let them know you’ll wait.

Mental Health does scare people, that’s not a surprise at all.

But the person it scares the most, is the person who is suffering and they might not even know it.

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All I want is mummy & daddy cuddles 

Being a parent is so hard isn’t it? The worst part for me though is when you cannot give anything more than cuddles when your baby is ill. Even though it’s all they probably want, you cannot help but want to do more.  

Leo doesn’t get ill very often, but when he does – he is very much like myself, doesn’t do it by halves and completely shuts down.

Leo seems to have had some kind of 24 hour illness and it’s been so sad for him. He wasn’t himself yesterday morning when I went to work and I came home early when Dan told me that he’d not eaten anything and he’d slept all morning (highly unusual because Leo hasn’t slept in the daytime for a good year unless he falls asleep in the car). 

When I came home all he wanted was cuddles and to fall asleep on us, he kept swapping from mummy to daddy. He wouldn’t eat anything or drink anything; not even his favourite smoothies and then he went and hid himself in the conservatory like this (see pic) ... poor boy just didn’t have the energy to move. 

Even though he had slept most of the day, when bedtime came at 7pm, he was already asleep on me and we had to move him upstairs – thinking he would take a while to settle, we were ready to lie with him for him for a while but instead within 5 minutes he was fast asleep. He was very uncomfortable and fidgety during the night when we checked on him as he was so warm but he then pretty much slept for 14 hours! He must’ve needed his sleep. 

Luckily when he woke up, the first thing he did was ask for a drink. I was so glad of this because he had dry lips and a completely dry nappy because he’d not had much the day before. Within a few minutes, he had drank a full cup and asked for breakfast. He has been much better today, still not quite 100% himself but more like his cheeky self. 

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By 3.30pm, he was asking for a cheese sarnie, I very rarely put photos of Leo up eating but I took this video of him and I wanted to share – refusal to share his food is a pretty good sign that he is on the mend.

He’s still been quite irritable today though, he hasn’t had much patience for anything – more so his toys! He has literally played with every toy that he could find in the living room today … last night the living room floor was pretty clear as he hadn’t played much … this was tonight’s effort – that still needs to be tidied up when I get the energy. (Dan is out working, if he was home everything would already be away nice and straight) 

Leo took until after he was 2 years old to have his first throwing up episode when he was ill and as many of you know I have issues when it comes to things like because how we lost Millie and I had been completely dreading it.I was absolutely petrified when it happened and I couldn’t stop checking on him, I led with him in bed watching him, I was getting up all that night to keep checking on him in his sleep – I truly can say that, that evening was one of my worst with paranoia since Leo was born and that is saying something because I’ve had huge anxiety issues when he was a tiny baby and around the age that we lost Millie. 

Luckily though this time, we haven’t had any of that and I think he’s nearly back on track… we’ll see what tomorrow brings xxx

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Well done Corrie! 

This week I am hearing lots about the storyline involving Steve & Michelle in Coronation Street and their miscarriage. 

Everything I have heard so far has been nothing but praise but due to my own recent miscarriage at the end of November and the fact that it should be my  darling daughter Millie’s 5th birthday tomorrow, I am not in the right frame of mind to watch… but I will. 

I will ensure that I watch the scenes at some point as I do like to see how the media handles and potrays sensitive issues such as these and I think that it is fabulous that they are covering this storyline. Utter respect for Kym Marsh this week as it must have brought some awful memories back for her after her own personal loss many years ago. 

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I really do hope that the media does continue to show these storylines and deal with these taboo issues, because that’s what they are , taboo.

Simon Gregson has already endured the storyline with his depression which he portrayed so well and to tackle another taboo issue so soon after that, well, what a star and he has also spoken out about his own personal pregnancy loss too which I think is amazing for a man to do too. 

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Unfortunately, I know exactly how it feels to have experience of all these issues, child loss, miscarriage and mental health problems and this is why I will carry on talking, carry on making a stand and carry on writing about it. 

Huge hugs to anyone out there who has their own personal experience of baby/child loss.

To read my recent miscarriage diary, click here.

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World Mental Health Day 

Sometimes, just because someone doesn’t look like they are struggling or suffering doesn’t mean that they aren’t inside. 

Be nice to everyone. You don’t know what is going on with them. 

Unfortunately mental health illnesses aren’t physical, so you can’t see someone suffering … until something happens or they decide to tell you.

We become good at hiding our thoughts.

We become good at hiding our feelings. 

We become good at pretending to be something we aren’t. 

Even from those that we love. 

It’s what we do to get through our day. 

Today, 10th October 2016 is world mental health day and I couldn’t let it pass without writing a little blog this evening.

I’m not scared of talking about what mental health problems I suffer from and I really wish that everyone in the world could talk open and honestly about it, but we can’t or we don’t because it’s considered a taboo subject, one of many that seem to be taboo in our lives. 

I suffer from depression.

I suffer from anxiety.

I suffer from PTSD.

I suffer from panic attacks.

I smile.

I laugh.

I go to the gym.

I go to the cinema.
I cry. 

I curl up in bed hoping it’s all been a horrendous dream. 

I scream. 

I become a recluse and don’t like to spend time with people. 

Like many other people, I go from one extreme to the the other. I cry. I laugh. I smile. I scream. I have a good day. I have a bad day. It’s a constant cycle and although I know that I am out of the worst of what I was to go through, I know that in my heart I will always suffer from these illnesses one way or another. 

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I have triggers. I can be having a good day and then I see a blue flashing light flying down the street and the flashbacks will start and my day will end with me just wanting to go home and go to bed and have the day end. I have other triggers that can make me stand in a street frozen to the spot bawling my eyes out for 10 minutes before getting on with my day again.

What I am trying to say is that when you have these illnesses, you never know what type of day you are going to wake up and have. 

Having made plans with friends, I’ve often felt a complete let down and awful friend when I have had to cancel because I’ve had a breakdown and couldn’t cope with doing whatever we had planned. 

Luckily, my close and real friends completely understand why I have to sometimes drop out of pre-arranged plans or change it for another time because they take the time to understand what I suffer from and remind me that I’m not a bad friend and that changing plans don’t normally matter. 

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But actually making plans nowadays is a complete triumph because 3 years ago when I was in an extremely bad place, I wouldn’t even make plans. And if you are reading this now and you know that you don’t make plans, I hope that you can see your future and I hope that I can help you to realise that one day you will make plans again… even if you have to cancel and rearrange – it doesn’t matter.

No one wants to have a mental health illness, many people never think they will never suffer from this type of illness. 

I certainly didn’t think that I would.

The only problem being is that I had no idea what life had planned to throw in my path, a challenge that I was either going to come out of or one that was going to end my life. Luckily, I was able to access medical help, I worked hard to help myself get through this horrendous time and I have had amazing support from friends and family. I’ve lost many friends on the way that were unable to understand my situation or even that they did not know how to even speak to me. To be honest, just a simple hello would have done some days and many times we didn’t even get that. 


If you suffer from mental health illnesses, talk about it. If you can find the courage deep down inside of you, that we all have – you may just help someone else who is suffering in silence.

If you have a friend who you have thought  of whilst reading this blog. Drop them a text, say hi, tell them that you were thinking of them and you might just make them smile at the end of a bad day. 

Do it now. Text whoever you are thinking of. 




New Ink

So I got some new ink today… I know some people don’t like tattoos but I do and I love adding to my collection … especially ones that mean something 


“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve ended a sentence but chose not to. 

You are the author and the sentence is your life. “


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Christmas Markets – Looking for stall holders

Millie’s Trust have just launched our Christmas Market Event on Weds 30th November at 7pm at Manchester Rugby Club and we are now looking for stall holders.

If you are a local business or know someone that might want a stall, please ask them to email

An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

I’m not quite sure that this rings true for people who have mental health issues, in fact; I am pretty sure that a whole tree full of apples a day would not keep depression at bay.

Paul Lake, ex Manchester City player has recently given a radio interview about the mental health problems that he has suffered with throughout his career. After listening to his great interview, which you can listen to by clicking here, it inspired me to spend a bit of time talking about this issue again. I have previously read  Paul’s autobiography and it’s a very interesting read to see how someone who had so many plans and commitment to his impending football stardom lose all of his football dreams following an injury and a fall into depression, through no fault of his own. That is the key to this piece, most people don’t have mental health problems because they are fault, it can happen to the best of us.

Most of you reading this will know that I had a series of mental health problems following the loss of our daughter Millie. Some of you will be reading this right now and be thinking that all parents who lose a child suffer from mental health problems, in reality that isn’t the case and to be honest, I am glad it isn’t. Due to a series of issues at the time Millie passed away I ended up being diagnosed with severe PTSD, anxiety and depression. These diagnoses were not made easily and I was reluctant for a long time to actually accept that something was wrong with me. My biggest problem being that I refused to talk. Even when I eventually saw a psychologist I reluctantly sat there in her office the first few times and just cried, I could not get the words out. All the words were there, all muddled up and whizzing around my head but I just couldn’t bring myself to physically say them out loud because when I did, to me that meant that I was admitting that I had something wrong with me. I was frightened that when I admitted this, it was going to hang around me for the rest of my life, that it was going to affect my relationships and my career.

Has it? The honest answer. Absolutely not.

I’ve just drawn this to show you what I think my head looked like inside when I was at my worst to try and help you understand a little better …Some days my head still feels like this. 

As Paul Lake mentions in his interview  “when you talk about depression and you deal with depression, it’s a sign of strength – not a weakness” I wish someone had said this to me when I was struggling, maybe I would have started to talk a lot earlier than I did.

Image credit:

Now on a better day, I think that the inside of my head looks a little like bit like this now  … 

What does this mean? Okay , so as you can see all the muddled up stuff at the front of my head can still be very confusing for me but in comparison to the first drawing you saw, it’s a lot less confusing than it used to be.

Now what happens next is now I can send my “head muddles”, such a technical term 😀 across my brain into the little boxes at the back of my head where they can stay for a little while until I am ready to deal whatever issue it is. By having these boxes constantly in my head and using them daily means that I can function and get on with my daily life much better.

I do apologise for my childlike drawings, I am the world’s worst artist!

I was so angry. I was angry at myself, I was angry at the world, I was angry about what had happened to Millie and I was angry at Dan. Why didn’t he feel like me? Why didn’t he get the horrendous flashbacks and the nightmares where I would wake up and I was choking? Why didn’t he keep seeing the same images over and over again like they had been burnt into my brain? Why wasn’t he the one having panic attacks in public? Why wasn’t he the one that walked out of rooms if a friend brought a young child in?  I didn’t understand any of this. I do now. I understand that Dan was suffering from grief because we had lost our daughter and I understand now that my grief was a lot more complex due to a number of matters – matters that were out of my control.  Things are different now, I am in control.  I can control the power of my black dog , I can turn him back into a puppy. Dan become my rock even more by helping me through my illnesses and I wouldn’t wish any of what I went through in my head on him, I would rather go through my toughest mental health periods again than to see him suffer like I did.

I completely agree with what Paul Lake when he talks about “not recognising the person that you were but not being ashamed of that person” – that person that you look back on has become part of you whether you like it or not. The key is to maintain what you have learnt through this process and to be able to call back on what you have learnt and discovered about yourself on this journey as and when you need to on days in the future when you may be struggling more than usual.

So many people suffer from mental health problems and struggle in private. I hope that by writing this piece and talking about this “taboo” topic that one person will be able to stand up and get help.


Unfortunately, it is extremely hard to access the mental health services through the NHS, in that way, I was one of the lucky ones as I got access very quickly due to my severe symptoms. I genuinely wish that there was more money in this country to allow more people to access these services because I can honestly say that without them, I wouldn’t be here today.

Now if you’ve read anything that I have written previously about mental health then you know what I’m going to say now!

If you know someone that is struggling right now with any mental health problems, please give them a text to say hi, send them an emoticon with a smile on it or ask them if they want to meet for a cup of tea – right now, yes go on, as you’re reading this please – I’ll pause for a few seconds here whilst you do this …… la de dah, la de dah , dum dideee, dum didee – SEND.. great, now I can carry on.

If they don’t today, ask them again in a few days and they might surprise you and say yes and it might just be the day that they really do need that communication and a friend to talk to.

The worst thing that you can do is ignore the problem if you see it and pretend that it’s not happening. It’s not good for the person who is suffering whether that is yourself or someone else.

Look around you at the people you know, I can point out people in my circles that have/are suffering from depression, OCD,PND and panic attacks – all types of mental health illnesses. It’s not as far away from you as you’d like to think.

Mental health should not be a taboo subject in 2016 and it’s a genuine shame that it is.

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Someone else can have my place… 

25 months and it’s another door closed.

Which one I hear you ask? 

If you have followed our story from when we began, you will have read about my struggle with my mental illnesses diagnosis. After Millie passed away, professionals attempted to tell me I was suffering from “normal grief” – (I’ve never quite understood what that phrase actually meant) it soon became apparent that I was suffering from a lot more than this. 

I was assessed properly by a Psychologist in a Manchester hospital and I was diagnosed extremely quickly with severe PTSD, anxiety and depression and I was extremely lucky that I was such a severe case (unlucky in that way of course) that I was able to access treatment within days of being diagnosed on the NHS. I know that I am extremely lucky to have gotten this help so quickly and this is why I am so proud that over the past 2 years I have worked so hard to deal with my illnesses and today I was officially discharged – because this now means that someone else can now be seen, that someone else can be take my place and receive the treatment that I know they will so desperately need. I am led to believe that the current waiting list to access mental health services is around 6 months – this is an extremely long time when your head is a mess with these types of mental health illnesses and I am a huge advocate in that these waiting list times need to be decreased and quickly because I know (not believe, I know) that without access to this service I would not be here today. 

This journey has been torturous. I remember quite clearly in my first session that I didn’t want to talk, I cried so much, I cried so hard that I thought my tears were never going to end. Dan had to take me to all my early appointments because I had panic attacks on the way to the hospital because I couldn’t cope seeing or hearing ambulances, blue lights or sirens which meant I couldn’t drive there. I couldn’t cope even being on a hospital premises because of the one specific flashback that I suffered from. I have to had to go through everything over and over again with a fine tooth comb, explain my flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, dreams etc in each and every second that they happened. I’ve had to re-live that day over and over again in every single detail that I could remember and believe me, I can remember every single minute detail and every word spoken to me that day – details that I don’t want to remember but that just won’t go away, no matter how hard I try. 

You’re probably reading this thinking, that is awful, why did she have to re-live everything all over again and again. Unfortunately this is how the treatment I had works and I can honestly say that it was a horrendous thing to have to go through to get better. I can understand how some people cannot cope with this treatment, how some people give up at just the first hurdle during this treatment. I understand how people refuse the treatment even though it has been suggested that it would be a good option for them. I understand how people do not even entertain the idea of going through this type of treatment. I know that people turn the treatment down as people have written to me telling me that they have turned this type of treatment down for various reasons, asking me for advice on why I said yes to it, asking me if I thought they should request it again. I cannot make this decision for anyone though, only a person in this position can.

The good thing is, is that you are given the option, it was explained to me very throughly the options I had for treatment and that it was completely up to me whether I took the treatment I was offered. I did. I took the option of being treated with CBT and by the use of EMDR. I could have said no. 

Why did I say yes? 

I said yes because I wanted to get off medication. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life taking drugs because of the depression and anxiety I was suffering from because of my PTSD brought on by losing our precious daughter and the circumstances in which she passed.

I said yes because I wanted to be back in control of myself. I did not want my fears and irrational thoughts to control me or my mind for the rest of my life. 

I said yes because I needed the help. 

Excepting help when offered is often one of the hardest things to do in life but you often have to realise that accepting help often makes your life easier or better in more ways than one. 

I said yes, because I wanted to be me again. Of course I completed understood that I would never be “The Joanne” that I was once, but I knew that I could possibly get back a huge part of her that I felt had gone, had changed. 

I changed my name too. I never had a middle name but when Millie passed , around 6 months later I added “Millie” into my name, so I am now officially Joanne Millie Thompson – an ode to my daughter and a sign to myself that I am a new person, a different person that I once was.

I do know the old me is gone. 

What we went through losing Millie was the worst possible thing any parent could ever possibly go through, something a parent should never have to go through – but we did and we have survived, we have gotten through the worst and we are on the other side.

That song, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” always comes into my head when I’m writing/talking about this  because it is so true. 

Today I am stronger than I have ever been before and every day I get just that little bit stronger to get through each passing day.

This letter below is for the Psychologist that has been there through all my treatment and tears. I don’t know whether she will ever read this as that’s not what it is about.

Dear Pyschologist,

 Two years ago I was a broken hearted mum who had recently lost her precious baby and I didn’t know whether I was coming or going or whether I was going to get through the next night or day.

I walked into your office thinking that I didn’t expect your help to work, thinking that I would try this treatment out and then give up and carry on feeling like it felt that first day that I met you .

I came to you and I did not know how to act, what to say, when to cry, when not to cry, when to shout or scream or when or if I should just walk away and give up. 

I felt ridiculous that I had all these problems, I thought I was weak for being diagnosed with these mental health problems, I couldn’t understand why I was cracking, why I was breaking down into crumbs in front my own eyes. I hated the fact that I was putting my husband through this – I hated the fact he needed to look after me; but you made me understand, you made me realise that I could get through this.

You made me talk about the things I didn’t want to, I didn’t like you for that. You made me tell you how I was feeling; I’ve always struggled with talking about my feelings but you kept on going, you kept on asking. You listened when I was angry, when I was distraught. You listened as I cried and tore my hair out in your office. You watched my heart break over and over again as I talked about my daughter and the hopes and dreams that I had for her but that I would never see her fulfil. You were there as I closed my eyes and described what I was seeing in my flashbacks and nightmares and you comforted me by telling me you were to help me and one day my illnesses would get easier.

You ripped me to pieces by trailing through my mind in your sessions and on many occasion I walked out of your room thinking how much I thought I hated you that day because of how upset and distraught I had become whilst talking to you. I often came out of these sessions and couldn’t function properly for two or three days – which then felt I didn’t have much time to recover before the next session. 

But you kept on asking me back and I kept on coming. You encouraged me to bring my medication down, both anti-depressants and sleeping tablets, you encouraged me to discover mindfulness and to create a world where I could feel safe, where nothing could bother me, where everything is peaceful and tranquil. 

As the days turns into weeks and then months and now years, the sessions got harder and more intense but my everyday life started to become a little easier. My sleep slowly started returning, I dealt with my panics attacks in a more responsive manner, my medication came down, my smiles started to return and my hopes and dreams started to slowly linger again.

You talked me through my feelings about possibly having another baby, at which point I told you I didn’t think I could ever have another child again but you got me through it, you helped me realise that I couldn’t change what happened. You helped me realise that we made all the right decisions for Millie that I couldn’t blame myself for what I happened that day  – that we weren’t bad parents, that we didn’t allow Millie to pass away, she was just taken from us and there was nothing we could have done as parents to change that. 

You helped me to change my mind about having another baby and I thank you so much for that because without you and a special family in New Zealand, Leo probably wouldn’t have been born and he has completely changed our world again.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the kindest, most caring medical professional that I have ever come across. I know that you genuinely wanted to help me, to help us become strong again. I know that what you do is not just a job for you – you have a passion for helping people. I for one am glad that I have met you and that our paths crossed because you have taught me how to be strong again,  how to love again and how to live again and I will never forget that. 

I hope your family are so proud of what you do.

Yours truly,

A mummy that will always have a piece of her jigsaw missing x 


If I hadn’t have had my psychologist help, I probably wouldn’t have seen my gorgeous son’s smile x 

I know that just because I have been discharged doesn’t mean that it is all over .. This is just the beginning and I know this but I know that I can get through anything life throws at us as we have already proven we can get through the worst thing possible that could ever happen to us. 

The Black Dog will always be with me but it doesn’t mean that it will always control me.

Check out this link here to learn more about the Black Dog whether it be for who yourself or to learn about it because you have a friend or family member that is suffering. 


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