I hear from a lot of people asking me about writing their stories...
Here is why I think it's important to be brutally honest with integrity, dignity and respect about your experiences as they can have huge impacts on other people's lives.
As a teenager I suffered terribly with anorexia and was sectioned into an adult psychiatric unit to keep me alive. By the time I was 20 years old I was ready to be integrated into society via a rehab unit as I had lost all my social skills.
It took quite some time to grow and develop into a confident adult.
I then spent the next 20 something years too shamed to tell anyone - apart from a select few - what I had been through as I was always made to feel it was not something you spoke about or that people would be scared if they knew you had a mental illness.
I decided to tell my children what had happened when I felt they were emotionally able to understand. I was terrified they would also be ashamed of me or react in some sort of fearful way...
But I of course should not have worried as they simply loved me unconditionally all the same and in fact told me I had to write about it all to help others who are also living in fear and shame.
So for all you budding authors out there, here is my advice.
I decided to share mine in my book 'Seconds To Snap' - I'm very humbled to say - doing this has now allowed me to have positive impact on people's lives. It was written as my way of being in as many people's corners as I can by letting them know I'm here if they need me and also I've been through the experience and understand what it's like to be in a mental hell but thankfully make a full recovery.
It was not easy being so brutally honest - however I felt to help as much as I could I had to put it all out there for others to read. My experience with severe anorexia and mental illness at times was very distressing. Teaching me many things about myself and allowing me to fully understand my own brain from a very challenging perspective.
It moulded me into who I am today and has allowed me to have the strength to now help others on their journey by offering hope of recovery and support.
Being honest about your own experiences will help others be honest and open about what they are going through too.
When I first met my husband I told him everything about my past with anorexia - I felt I had to be completely honest with him no matter what. I had to allow him to see me for who I was - flaws and all.
This came in useful when I had to rely heavily on him when I then had a psychotic episode within the first couple of years of our relationship. I expected him to run for the hills - but he stayed by my side with huge love and respect. He never missed a day of visiting me in a psychiatric unit. Even though I felt shame and often could not verbalise what I was thinking or feeling he never put any pressure on me to divulge anything - he just listened - his love was unconditional and unwavering.
For a fact I know this helped in my recovery so I completely understand how it feels to have someone in your corner.
With inpatient and outpatient therapy as well as medication I got through the episode. Unscathed and thankfully never to have suffered it again. I count my blessings each day as it was the most terrifying experience of my life. I've also worked very hard on myself mentally to understand why my brain behaved in that way and how I can make myself mentally fit and self-aware.
Now each day I receive messages and this one in particular has stuck with me. It made me feel so honoured, privileged and truly grateful to be able to share the story of recovery and hope - it also shows just how effective all the raising awareness is and also how incredibly important the campaigns across the internet can be...
First good night's sleep for a year
"Thank you Tina, for having the courage to publish Seconds to Snap, I finished it yesterday and had my first decent night's sleep for a year.
I write this through my tears as my daughter has anorexia and has been in an eating disorder unit for a year (apart from one disastrous time when she was discharged)
Although my tears flowed when I read how much Tina suffered I also take inspiration from her strength and hope that my girl will one day be free of this frightening and destructive illness
How wonderful that she became a mother, you never know one day I might be a grandma.
I have highlighted so many passages in the book that I intend to reread as our journey continues.
If anyone has any doubts that their child is suffering, get immediate help and advice from experts, don't wait"