What was 9-year-old Maddie’s dream career? Perhaps it was to become a teacher, or a nurse? Nope. It was to become the author of my very own, stellar franchise: Crazy Maizy. This Crazy Maizy gal (deliberately spelt with a ‘z’ for consistent branding obvs) was a reet troublemaker, and she went on various escapades in my 9-year-old versions of novels; running away to the circus and trying to avoid school were two of the debacles she found herself in. 9-year-old Maddie was constantly writing away, no holds barred, completely unaware of anyone else and what their perceptions of the Crazy Maizy tales would be- 9-year-old Maddie was doing this for herself.
20-year-old Maddie can only look back on her younger self and feel nothing but admiration for what 9-year-old Maddie was doing. To be able to write away, constantly creating stories and characters and not letting your worries about not being good enough, or insecurities about what people might say, get in the way. Nowadays, I stick to writing articles and this blog, and save my creative writing attempts for a deep, dark drawer in my room, only to surface when I am forced to submit a creative writing assignment for my degree. It’s sad how age, insecurities and doubts can creep into our dreams, crushing them just a tad.
A couple of weeks ago, I got invited to head down to Foyles (aka my FAVE shop) in Grand Central, Birmingham, to go to a v swanky, v exciting real life book launch! Olivia Siegl, local mum, mental health campaigner and acclaimed writer had just released her new book, Bonkers, and the launch night was incredibly fun indeed.
Myself and my pal, Nat, headed down to Foyles to start the night, and we chatted to Olivia about all things writing. She was so lovely to talk to, and we were v thankful that she spent some of her time chatting away to us mere uni students (there were around 70 people there!!). I found that Olivia had always loved to write, but was a bit of a closet writer until she had her two adorable children. Since then, her popular parenting blog has taken off, she has written articles for the likes of the Huffington Post and has published her first book. Not much for a new mum then, eh?
The one thing that drew me to Olivia, just as much as her writing, was how she raises awareness of maternal mental health. Mental health in general is still such a taboo subject, with experiences being generalised online, or people still judging those that suffer, for some ridiculous reason. I really appreciate those people that are willing to speak up and are brave enough to share their own unique stories about battling mental health, in order to bring about refreshing conversation and change on something that is still stigmatised, after years of trying to change that. And Olivia’s story is heartbreaking, but in her book, Bonkers, she tells it with such honesty, flair and raw emotion, I have no doubt that her brave choice to let the world know her story will help other women going through the same thing. Postnatal Depression and Postpartum Psychosis are debilitating illnesses that affect many women post-pregnancy, yet they’re hardly spoken of in society – and Olivia wants to change this, and she is changing this.
And it’s the candid way that Olivia writes about both her experience with maternal mental health, and just about her experiences of motherhood in general that really make this book. Such hope, positivity and laughter can be pulled from some of her darkest moments, and reading Bonkers really does make you feel like there is always light at the end of the tunnel, however you’re struggling mentally.
I’m not a mum, I’m a young 20-year-old- but I have seen some of my loved ones struggle with mental illness, and I’ve had dips in my emotions since my Dad passed away in 2016. I can only imagine the support this read would give to a new mother with or without Postnatal Depression, and I know for sure that regardless of my situation being different, Olivia’s words of wisdom on struggling with incredibly difficult times left me feeling lighter and full of hope and sunshine as soon as I finished the last page.
My evening at Olivia’s book launch was inspiring, wonderful and generally just a ball. There was prosecco on tap, lovely like-minded book lovers to chat to, Bonkers cupcakes to enjoy, fancypants goodie bags and a swanky after-party at All Bar One, complete with a selfie booth. Just like Olivia’s new book, that evening filled us with positivity, hope and a journey to happiness.
There’s one last thing to say: Olivia Siegl, you’re a trooper, and everyone should read Bonkers. I promise you won’t regret it.