Monday 18 May 2020

Review: What Have I Done? by Laura Dockrill

This is a raw, courageous and honest recovery story that breaks the silence on one of life’s best-kept secrets. Written from the front-line of mental illness, this heartbreaking and uplifting memoir is about resilience, love and finding your way to the other side.
Laura couldn't wait to meet her new baby. But as she went into labour things began to go wrong and Laura started to struggle. A traumatic birth, anxiety about the baby, sleep deprivation, a slow recovery – all these things piled up until Laura (like any new mum) felt overwhelmed.
As many as 8 out of 10 new mums struggle in the weeks after birth. Laura had never experienced mental illness before and was reassured by family, friends and professionals that what she was feeling was ‘normal.’ But in Laura's case these feelings escalated scarily quickly into post-partum psychosis; a rare and debilitating illness. Within a matter of days Laura became paranoid, delusional and suicidal. And when her baby was just three weeks old, on Mother’s Day, Laura was institutionalised without her baby. Throughout this time she was haunted by a sense of: 'What have I done?'
It wasn’t until Laura began to put her story into words (on her phone whilst her son slept) that she began to find herself again and recovery seemed within reach; these are those words.
Despite this gruelling experience, Laura’s story is a hopeful one. Not only has she got better, she has come out the other side stronger and more assured. Now she is determined to break the stigma around post-natal mental health, shatter the romanticised expectations of perfect motherhood, and to empower parents: you are not alone.

Review: I feel very lucky to have been able to listen to this book on audio. I pre-ordered the audiobook of this memoir because I knew I wanted to read it in Laura’s own words and having her tell me her story herself was truly a powerful experience. It's definitely the best audiobook experience I have had in a long time. 

This book is raw and open and honest and tough to read at points but it is so necessary and I am in awe of Laura Dockrill for sharing this story with us. I feel like not enough people talk about the mental health surrounding new mothers. People talk about baby blues and that is generally dismissed and yet there is such a need for this to be taken more seriously and for people to speak up about their experiences because this is such an important time in the lives of any family. 

There are definitely moments in this book that could be triggering for anyone who has been through childbirth, new mothers or anyone who has struggled with mental health in any way so do exercise care when picking this book up. If you are able to though, i highly recommend giving this a read because I learned so much about the way mental health is viewed in new mothers, the way the health service in England deals with concerns of a new or expectant mother as well as very personal thoughts and feelings from this writer during her period of recovery. 

It almost feels wrong to be ‘reviewing’ this book because this is someone’s personal experience and therefore is valid in every possible way. So this review is basically me recommending this read to anyone who feels able to pick it up. It is an incredibly powerful read and I am sure it will be helpful and definitely a source of comfort to a great many people. 
To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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