How Do You Tell Your Children You Have A Mental Illness

21/03/2017 14:29 GMT | Updated 21/03/2017 14:29 GMT

As a teenager I developed anorexia. I had no idea it was a mental illness or what hell would ensue. I was so naive to these conditions and it was quite a shock when it happened.

After a very damaging and traumatic few years in an adult acute psychiatric unit at the mercy of the illness - I vowed if I made it through I would write about it to help others. I figured that no young person should ever be about to end their life in a dingy toilet cubicle or praying for death each day due to extreme self-loathing, anxiety and hateful views of oneself.

It took many years to become 'normal', whatever that is. Once I had finished therapy, inpatient and outpatient treatments, ending all mediations, I felt I was finally mentally fit and ready to take on the world.

I was very lucky as I took all my negatives and turned them consciously into huge positive outcomes. I spent years in the library borrowing psychology books also trying to figure out my own brain and why it had just spent years trying to destroy me.

Each day was a new revelation.

I grew in strength physically as well as mentally. I became very self-aware. I started transcendental meditation to control any anxious thoughts.

Don't get me wrong it was not easy and took many years - but finally in my mid-thirties I felt liberated for the first time in my life of control and self-doubt.

It was an incredible feeling.

I suddenly felt content for the first time since about the age of 12. It was wonderful.

I was able to take ownership of everything I believed in that I had no confidence to say or do before.

The biggest thing it gave me was the ability to be honest with my children for the first time in their young lives. I felt I it was time to tell them about my anorexia and what I had been through.

It was the most important thing for me to do as without knowing where I had been they would not fully know me as a person - flaws and all.

So I sat them down one day and started my story...

The most incredible thing happened - they hugged me and I could see in their eyes they did not care at all. It did not affect how they saw me or taint their love for me as their mum. It was such a wonderful freeing moment for me.

Children's love is unconditional.

What I told them in their eyes was simply information about me and would have no major impact on the way they looked at me.

But what it did do, which I wanted, was open their eyes to others suffering mental illness and how no one should ever judge or be stigmatised.

They also suggested I write about it to help others... which was something I had always wanted to do anyway.

Their pure and untainted desire was for me to share the story to make other feel better that said, which was so awe inspiring.

'Seconds To Snap' was published in June 2015 - to the biggest launch my local Waterstone's had ever seen since Harry Potter! This showed me there is a huge need for information like this and is in high demand. Offering hope to others suffering this awful illness.

So from my experience being honest, open and realistic with your children is best. It allows them to understand if you're having a bad day and will also give them empathy and understanding of others they might meet throughout their lives.

Now all of my children are very involved with talks I've done across the UK. They know my story inside out and share it with their friends who are having a difficult time. On many occasions they have given one of my books to a friend in hope that it would help in some way...

I'm incredibly proud of them all and all the people they have around them too.

It worked for me and I hope it can help many others too.

Tina x