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  • Published: 23 April 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473575226
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

What Have I Done?

2020's must read memoir about motherhood and mental health




A raw and honest memoir about being devastated by post-natal psychosis and coming through the other side

Laura Dockrill had an idyllic pregnancy and 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 little things piled up until Laura (like any new mum) felt overwhelmed.

As many as 8 out of 10 new mums find themselves struggling with intense emotions in the weeks after birth. In Laura's case these feelings escalated scarily quickly into postnatal psychosis. She became paranoid and delusional and had to be institutionalised for a fortnight without her baby. Throughout this time she was haunted by a sense of: 'What have I done?', at first as she wondered if she could cope with her baby, and later because she was trying to grasp at reality as she slipped into nightmarish delusion.

Laura's experience and its aftermath were devastating but through bravely sharing her story she found the strength to slowly recover. Like any women's health issues, post-natal mental health has been inadequately researched and funded over the years. It has been stigmatised and come to feel like a taboo. Laura is determined to break the silence.

Laura's experience was extreme but it will resonate for any new mum who has been left reeling after a marathon birth, the intensity of coping with a new baby, and the loss of their old self. New mums are told that this should be the happiest time of their lives, and insta-perfect parenting hashtags reinforce this message. But this book is for any new parent who has also found it a hard time and Laura's message is, 'you are not alone'.

  • Published: 23 April 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473575226
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the author

Laura Dockrill

'Wow, what a stormer! It's wonderful to have the voice of someone as young and as funny in the children's books world' Michael Rosen

Everyone’s falling for Laura Dockrill’ VOGUE.

Named one of the top ten literary talents by The Times and one of the top twenty hot faces to watch by ELLE magazine, Laura is a young, talented writer/illustrator who is a graduate of the Brits School of Performing Arts.She has performed her work at the Edinburgh Fringe, Camp Bestival, Latitude, Bookslam and the Soho Theatre, and on Woman’s Hour, The Jo Whiley show, Newsnight, BBC Breakfast and each of the BBC’s respective radio channels 1-6. She has been a roaming reporter for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, run workshops at the Imagine children's literature festival on the South Bank, and is on the advisory panel at the Ministry of Stories.

Also by Laura Dockrill

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Praise for What Have I Done?

A humblingly honest and human war-report from the front lines of mothering, psychosis and recovery: there is no other book like it, and it is so desperately needed.

Caitlin Moran

A book for those of us who didn’t have the fairytale. It’s important to know that even though things don’t always go to plan it doesn’t mean you aren’t a superhero or a power mum in your own right. Thank you Laura for making us all feel worthy. A must-read for all of those muddling through.

Paloma Faith

Amazing. This book is proof that although Laura’s mind was her undoing, it is also an incredible asset which is going to help so many people.

Clemmie Telford

Amazing. This book is proof that although Laura’s mind was her undoing, it is also an incredible asset which is going to help so many people.

Fiona Telford, postpartum psychosis survivor

Laura’s raw, honest book gets to the core of postpartum psychosis. Her style is blunt, graphic, diary-like, unflinchingly confessional - at times so colloquial that we feel we know her, or we want to know her: for her bravery in writing this book, for her humanity, for her sisterhood. She has emerged with a greater understanding of self, with deeper compassion for those who suffer from mental illness, and with a determination to combat stigma and ignorance by speaking out. Ultimately I hope this book will give women and their families confidence that the brain and body will heal. And I hope it will encourage other women to speak out.

Dr Jessica Heron, CEO, Action on Postpartum Psychosis

An incredibly powerful book. Brave, brilliant and so, so important.

Jessie Ware

This book will bring hope to many women and their partners who have struggled with their mental health during this already nerve-wracking and overwhelming time.

Becca Maberly, @AMotherPlace

Raw, powerful, visceral: this book has so much to offer to anyone who reads it, whether they be a pregnant woman, new mother, partner, midwife, or someone recovering from mental illness. It is so important on so many levels to hear experiences like Laura’s to widen our understanding of these issues and how they can affect us.

Isabelle Bourton, midwife

I cried, laughed and cried again. It’s therapeutic to read and bloody amazing. This book will help to raise awareness and help people understand what it’s like to go through this, to see light at the end of the tunnel and know you won’t always feel like this.

Jessie Hunt, postpartum psychosis survivor

I absolutely loved this book. It’s so honest I related to the rawness of it all. There was so much I could identify with.

Helen Grimes, postpartum psychosis survivor

An important book and I have no doubt it will have a significant impact.

Dr Chi-Chi Obuaya, Psychiatrist

I saw the end of the world in her eyes. I knew she was in there somewhere but she was being held prisoner by her mind and we were all helpless to it. Sometimes things happen to us which means we can save other people, my own experience with mental health helped save her and now here she is about to save a whole generation of women!

Adele

This is a generous, humane, brave gift of a book. Its guts and humour spoke to me loud and clear. I wept for Laura, women I love, and ones I’ve never met, many times throughout. There’s a conspiracy of silence around so many of areas of birth and new motherhood, and Laura is breaking the glass ceiling of it, with glorious honesty, humour and humility. I salute you, Laura - you’re a fucking warrior!

Sophie Dahl

A humblingly honest and human war report from the front lines of mothering, psychosis and recovery: there is no other book like it, and it is so desperately needed.

Giovanna Fletcher

This moving book was a pleasure to read and I didn't want to put it down. If anyone is going through a similar experience it will make them feel less alone.

Philippa Perry

Dockrill's raw yet ultimately hopeful account of her experience with postpartum psychosis shines an important light on a rarely discussed experience.

iNews

Bold, brave and raw, it must have taken immense courage to write this phenomenal memoir… It’s a tough read, but hugely inspiring…told with a winning dash of humour, and provides desperately needed insight into postnatal mental health

Eithne Farry, UK Press Syndication

What Have I Done? is heartbreaking and brutal in its honesty, and it is remarkable that Dockrill has managed to wring black comedy out of so much suffering… [the book] offer[s] a hand of solidarity to other women, as well as the assurance that there is a way through

Stephanie Merritt, Observer

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