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. 


To book on a Millie’s Trust course click the link below


Drugs, counsellors, psychologists and tears 

So how did I come out the other side of my mental health illness?  What helped me from a medical point of view? 

I didn’t know how I would. I didn’t know what to take. I didn’t know how to act. I thought that I was alone. I thought I was going to end my life. 
In the beginning, I mean the real beginning, I was put straight onto Diazepam- they numbed me, they made the pain freeze, they turned me into a zombie. But right there and then I was in shock, I mean real shock and I needed them. I didn’t question it , the doctors said take them, I did. I wasn’t in any position to start an argument – it was the right decision by the doctors at the time.
After a few weeks of Diazepam, I was re-assessed by the doctors and was put onto Sertraline as a more long term anti-depressant to help me deal with the grief we were going through, but unfortunately for me , this drug didn’t agree with me, it genuinely sent me up the wall, it didn’t agree with my system and luckily we realised straight away otherwise, well, I don’t know what would have happened. Dan at the same time was on the anti-depressant too, but he was fine on it, you see it’s like any medication, you never know how your body is going to take to it until you try. 
    So, it was time for a change again… I had to have around 7 days medication free before I was allowed to start on a different one …I remember that week being awful. I was a nervous wreck, jittery, angry, pained, distraught … Absolutely horrendous. 
Cipralex was next … This one did agree with me. This one calmed me, this one relaxed my body enough to be able to get through the minutes, the hours, the days. I was so glad to have found one that I could rely on.
Alongside these anti-depressants, I was also on sleeping tablets. I couldn’t sleep and if I did manage to sleep, I was having nightmares, flashbacks and hallucinations in my sleep and I would soon be awake crying, shaking, shouting …. The sleeping tablets knocked me out enough to be able to get enough sleep to deal with this.
So what next? 
Dan and I began to see a counsellor pretty soon after Millie passed away after taking advice that this would be good for us. It was. Although for just some sessions, I sat there and said nothing or I just cried. But that’s what counselling is for. If you want to go and cry, you can. If you want to go and say nothing, you can. If you want to go and scream, you can. 7 months we saw a counsellor for. People asked why we stopped? The answer is, we just knew. You would just know. In fact, I knew before Dan. I knew that I had gotten everything that I could from counselling. I knew I needed more help, but from someone else. Dan continued to see the counsellor for a few more sessions and he also knew when enough was enough for him. 
In the meantime, I was re-assessed by a second mental health specialist and was diagnosed with severe PTSD, anxiety, depression and complex grief. In one way, it was a relief to finally have some labels for what I was suffering from. On the other hand, it petrified me even more because I didn’t know what was going to happen next or whether I would even be able to get through this diagnosis. 
I remember that first session with my psychologist. I struggled to talk. I cried – I mean I really cried. I couldn’t drive myself to the hospital because I was having flashbacks if I saw blue lights on the road, I could cope with being in a hospital. Dan was there by my side, I needed him so much right then. 
     Mindfulness, CBT and EMDR therapy have made up a huge amount of my sessions – too much to discuss on this blog tonight, but I will in the future ….. 33 sessions later and I am hoping that tomorrow will be my final one. The last time that I see my psychologist in a medical capacity. 
(This picture above was taken in about 2007 – I’m laughing at something, I was in Germany with my brother and his family – thanks to all the help that I have received, I know one day another photo will be taken like this with a genuine smile and laugh.)
And then there is exercise. This has been a natural drug for me. I got back into running after Millie passed away, it really helped to clear my mind. 6 weeks after having Leo , I started again and it really is helping again.
When I was about 6 months pregnant with Leo, I signed up for Tough Mudder, everyone thought that I was mad. I’d done it for a few reasons though ( one was to get fit again after having 2 children for my 30th in September, lol ) seriously though the main reason … Because training for Tough Mudder was going to force me out of the house, it was going to force me to have to leave Leo with Dan. After what happened to Millie I would have every right to spend every single second attached to my son – and believe me, I want to most days, but this wouldn’t have been fair to Dan or to our son because I want Dan to have a normal dad and son relationship and I want Leo to have normality in his life in the future. I can’t let my pain, anguish and fear stop him living the life he wants and the life I want for him, the same one that I wanted for Millie. 
     The tough Mudder training right now is pushing me into leaving Leo with Dan, into spending more time on my own and that on its own is an important thing, the running is my thing, it gives me the time to just be me, to just be Joanne, the girl. 
I honestly could right a hundred times more on this post as there is so much I want to talk to you about – so one day I will sit and right, the full story, the proper insight – but for tonight I hope this is enough. 
Anti-Depresants.Sleeping Tablets.Counsellor.Psychologist.CBT.EMDR.Exercise.Running. 
I’ve tried the lot and the combination of all of them throughout the past 2 and a half years have made me who I am today, the strongest that I have ever been since the minute I was told our daughter had passed. What’s that song? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So true. 
Ooh and if you like to throw a few pennies my way for my Tough Mudder challenge, please use the link below
or TEXT JOEY15 £5 to 70070

It’s true. I suffer with mental Health problems … And I’m ok with it. 

  • I am a patient with diagnosed PTSD. 
  • I am a patient with diagnosed Depression.
  • I am a patient with diagnosed Anxiety. 
  • I am a patient diagnosed with Complex Grief
We all know how the world likes to label things, so If you want to put me in a box and label it with something, I am a mental health patient.

This week is mental health awareness week, so let’s have a chat.
I am pretty sure that every one of you knows someone with some type of mental health problem, statistics show that 1 in 4 people will have a problem in their lifetime , pretty high that figure isn’t it? 
Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, OCD, PTSD, Bi-Polar, eating problems, personality disorders , self harm …
Re-read that list that I’ve just listed, you’ve just thought of someone haven’t you? See, it’s that close, mental health is so much more closer to most people than they think. 
I have mental health problems because I lost my daughter, because I put her in someone else’s care and she never came home, because I saw my daughter before anyone told me that she had passed away, because I am grieving, because I feel guilt … Because we lost our daughter, our baby. 
People develop mental health problems for so many reasons, no one’s stories will ever be the same … They might be similar, but never the same. Suffering comes from
grief, from money worries, abuse,  losing your job or home, addiction problems, the list is endless and there so many different mental health problems out there, no one ever knows what they may suffer from, you don’t get to pick or choose. I thought I was strong, I was, until my daughter passed and then I was broken, I was weak; at least I thought I was. Looking back now, I can see why I would have thought I was weak, why I thought I was broken. I can see why I thought it would be easier to not even be here, why I thought it would be better to end my life. 
I wasn’t diagnosed properly in the beginning, I was told I was suffering “normal grief” – whatever that is. But they were wrong. Luckily Dan saw it, he saw me and he knew something wasn’t right. We were both suffering with grief because we had lost our daughter and Dan could see that I was so much different than him, he knew that it wasn’t just a “mum” thing – it was more serious than we were told. Very quickly I was back at the doctors and being referred to a what I can only described as an amazing Psychologist at Wythenshawe hospital, whom assessed me properly, I was diagnosed with Severe PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and Complex Grief Issues – so a little bit more than again, those silly words “normal grief” ( for the record, I don’t believe there is normal grief,certainly not for someone who has lost a child) As well as the initial private counselling that we had 25 sessions of after Millie passed, I have also had 33 sessions of an hour and a half to 2 hours with my Psychologist in around 18 months , for those of you that don’t know what that figure is, it’s a lot of treatment, the average amount of sessions for PTSD is around 12 , that’s a comparative for you. But it’s not just that, it’s all the work I have had to put in on top of all the “in-house” therapy – it didn’t stop when I walked out of the hospital every week, that was just the beginning, I had to ( and still have to ) work hard at every minute of every day. Some days are harder than others, some days I still feel as though it would be easier not be here. 
I am sitting here now thinking about how easy it would have been to just do it, to commit suicide and be with my daughter. I remember waking up one night and saying to Dan I needed to clear all the pills off my bedside table ( sleeping tablets & anti-depressants ) because it was too easy to wake up from a bad dream where I woke up crying and feel that most horrendous pain all over again, it would have been too easy in a split second to take those pills – that is how quick it could have been over. The amount of times that I have had to stay away from windows, from ledges, anything high because the urge was just sometimes too much to want to throw myself over and be done with all the agony I was suffering from and then there was the time when I nearly ended all in front of a bus … that was the turning point, that’s why I knew something was more wrong with me than the professionals had said, that’s when Dan pushed me to get help and took me back to the doctors … That was the biggest step I needed to take, I needed the help, I wanted the help.
That’s it for tonight guys … Every day for the rest of the week because it is “mental health awareness week” I’ll blog a little bit more about my mental health journey … You’ll get more of an insight than I’ve ever told before
And just in case you are wondering, I know I’m not weak, I can see that now. I know that I am stronger than I have ever been before.
Time to send that text to your friend who might be feeling a bit down at the moment, or that friend you saw a couple of weeks ago that didn’t quite just seem right or seemed that little but quieter than usual. They will appreciate it, I promise , just say “hi” and ask them how they are … They’ll tell you if they want to …
Joanne x

Finally … I went to Tesco …..

Today I did something that I thought was impossible …
I went to TESCO Handforth Dean … Some of you may not understand why this is a a landmark day for me doing this …many of you will understand … 27 months I have avoided this place and I knew I would get there … Eventually and on the right day for me. Today was that day
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ll be spending 2 hours doing my weekly shop anytime soon … But I was in there for about 15 minutes and guess what, I didn’t spontaneously combust, grow horns on my head or fall into a heap on the floor… I was jittery, I was sweating, i had to stop myself from crying … I will apologise now to anyone that I may have seen in there that wanted to speak to me as I was in auto mode , wanting to get what I needed and get out of there … Gripping the pram ( yes I took Leo with me ) probably tighter than I should’ve been and picked up what I needed , sun cream and a hat for Leo, a magazine for me and a couple of other bits – I did contemplate rewarding myself with a Krispy Kreme … But in my head it would’ve taken too long to pick one and put it in a packet – so I chickened out of that
So there it is 27 months from one of the biggest panic attacks I had after losing Millie, many many many sessions and amazing help from my Psychologist, lots of mindfulness , thousands of tears, tons of anger at myself for feeling an absolute idiot for not being able to step foot in my local superstore or even drive past at one stage … I did it … One of my biggest fears …

I must admit, I came out and got in my car and absolutely cried my eyes out, a mixture of grief and relief I think and all I wanted to do was come home.

There you have it. Mental health problems don’t have to keep your down or hold your back, work hard , focus on the now and it will get better x

To do what seems the impossible is always possible , at the right time x

Joanne xxx