INTERVIEW | HOW THIS MUM FOUND LIGHT AFTER THE DARKEST OF DAYS
Most days us mamas are just trying to get by, keeping our kids fed and happy is a full time job, let alone when you are dealing with postnatal depression as well. Those days can be dark, they can be lonely and in some cases dangerous.
Meet Kasey Rainbow, her name in itself is enough to inspire you to feel positive but we were struck by her incredible journey of self-discovery and acceptance through some of the toughest times when we heard her story recently. Not only has Kasey battled with depression since she was 18, having endured bullying, eating disorders and self-harm, but like 1 in 7 Aussie mums, she was diagnosed with postnatal depression three months after welcoming her beautiful daughter.
"I hit some very deep, dark places. But, you can only dig so far. And from then on, the only direction is up," says Kasey.
After a long and difficult battle, Kasey found the courage to follow her dream and released a children's book, titled When I Grow Up, which she created to educate and empower young minds and teach them the importance of strength and self-acceptance. The book launched in October 2017 to coincide with the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, with 30% of proceeds being donated to Beyond Blue.
Now Kasey is gearing up to release her second book, Big Love: Little Book. This time round however she is focusing on the mamas, with an inspiring collaboration of women sharing their own experiences of motherhood. "It's like a big hug from a best friend," she says, and who doesn't need a good hug from a bestie!
We chatted to Kasey about her difficult but inspiring journey, using social media for good and the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people.
Tell us about your journey and what led you to write your first book, When I Grow Up?
Ever since I was 18 years old, I have battled with mental illness. This was exacerbated by bullying, eating disorders and self-harm in my late teens and twenties, so it really came as no surprise to me to be diagnosed with Post Natal Depression when my daughter was 3 months old. After speaking to my GP and being given a Mental Health Care Plan (a totally underutilised tool for new mother’s in my opinion), I was referred to a psychologist. I always knew I was ‘damaged goods’, but it turns out that having the one thing I thought might heal me, actually turned out to be the thing that broke me.
I continued to see my psychologist on a regular basis over the next 18 months. She became my safe haven, a place where I could go and reveal all my darkest thoughts and most awful of feelings. She allowed me to say things I was too scared to say to anyone else.
Through this process, we broke down every part of the pain I had suffered from the age of 13 (when the bullying began). We delved deeper and deeper and I hit some very deep, dark places. But, you can only dig so far. And from then on, the only direction is up.
One night whilst driving home from a particularly intense session in which I discussed my continual fears for my daughter suffering the same fate as me, I was struck with an idea that I thought was too crazy to pursue. But it stayed in my mind and after discussing the idea with my husband, I decided to go for it. I was going to write, illustrate and self-publish my own children’s book. A children’s book to educate and empower young minds and teach them the importance of strength and self-acceptance.
And what was the response like to that first book?
Overwhelming to be honest. When I first threw the idea out there into the world, I was so incredibly scared. Scared what people would think of me, scared that I would fail. But it was the complete opposite. I think my honesty encouraged others to tell of their own battles with mental illness and the support I received from not only family and friends, but complete strangers, was so incredibly humbling.
Now you are releasing your second book, ‘Big Love’ to inspire and empower women. Tell us a little bit about it and where the idea came from.
I came up with the idea for this book earlier this year, while I was in the middle of writing my 2nd children’s book. I felt I didn’t have the same drive behind me as I did with ‘When I Grow Up’, so I decided I wanted to focus my attention elsewhere for a while. That is when I decided I wanted to do something to help people like myself – mothers who were struggling and just needed that extra bit of love at a time when they felt so alone.
However, I didn't want it to be just MY stories. I wanted to tell stories of a whole range of women, as all our journeys can be so different. I also wanted it to feel light-hearted and fun, like a big hug from a best friend and that is why I incorporated so much colour and design into it.
HAVE YOU HEARD? While everyone was busy enjoying their Easter break (including me!) the BIG LOVE book was released for pre-order! If you didn’t catch our sneak peek, here is another look at just SOME of the fabulous content 💗 • This is a limited edition print run, and copies are already going fast! If you would like to secure a copy, we suggest you pre-order now, that way, as soon as I receive them, they’ll be in the post to you!! • The book is A5 in size and features 100 pages of love. It is $30 (FREE SHIPPING!) and 30% from proceeds is donated to PANDA @pandanational to help support those suffering from PND/PNA. Shop link in bio! • • • #kaseyrainbow #blog #mummeblog #mentalhealth #motherhood #mumblog #parenting #selflove #selfacceptance #mumlife #sharemystories #writer #author #blogger #depression #anxiety #PANDA #mentalhealthblogger #speakuptohelpothers #positivity #biglovelittlebook #bigloveproject #fundraiser #womensupportingwomen #girlssupportinggirls #pnd #postnataldepression #mamamia4women #ladystartup #ladystartups @ladystartups
My main goal with this book I think is to help women realise that motherhood is not a journey they should face alone. Of course, they will always (hopefully) have the help and support of their husbands, partners and loved ones, but no one can truly understand their journey more than another mum can. We are all on this journey together, and I want it to be something that unites us and brings us together. I want women not to feel afraid to talk about the bad sides of motherhood, the dark days, and the long weeks. We all have them, we all suffer. However, sometimes, we feel like we are the only ones.
Did anyone help to inspire you to take the leap to create your first book or was it more of an internal inspiration?
It was definitely an internal inspiration. Writing a children’s book is something I have always wanted to do, but I have never felt I had the right idea until this came along. From the moment I thought of it, it felt so right and I knew it was something that I had to so. My husband was there for me throughout the whole process and he was my sounding board. Every time I had a new idea, I would run it past him to get his feedback and thoughts. So despite it being my own idea, I could not have done it without him.
Your second book brings together a community of women, how important do you feel it is as women and mums to have that community ("it takes a village") around them?
So, so important. As an anxious person, I decided from the get go that I would not join a mothers group. However, as I was the first of my friends to have kids, I did not really have anyone to talk to about all things baby related (except my mum). I did not have someone to turn to and say “is this normal?”, or “should I be feeling like this?” and I think that was one of my biggest downfalls. Not long after my daughters first birthday, I realised that I needed some mum friends and approached some women from my daughters day-care. Again, I was terrified how they would respond to me, but they welcomed me warmly and they are now some of my closest friends. Even through my online presence, I feel I have made support networks. Women I have never met, but we support each other through successes and offer empathy when they are having a rough day. Being a mother unites women and I am now a big believer in the ‘mother hood’ community. Things like a smile to the mum in the shops who is dealing with a tantrum, or offering to buy a tired mum a coffee – it can be those small acts of kindness that make a huge difference in a mother’s day.
You seem to have managed to use social media in a really positive light to share your story, build your dream of releasing two books and just generally sending a positive message out there, but have you experienced much of the negative side of it?
I have a love hate relationship with social media. I have witnessed the toxicity of it and at times have found myself so immersed in it that I forgot about my own life outside of it. After seeing my psychologist for a few months and touching on this subject, I cancelled all my social media accounts and focused on my life ‘off the line’. However, when having the book idea, I realised I needed social media to make it work and decided then that I would utilise it in the best way possible. Since that moment, I have felt only its positive influence. I still have times where I feel myself getting in too deep, but when I do, I simply step away for a few days and ground myself with the real world. I have not experience and negativity or ‘trolls’ as yet, but hope that if one day I do, I will tackle it bravely.
What more do you think we could be doing to support mums and mums with post natal depression?
Personally, I think Mental Health Care Plans are completely underutilised. Seeing and talking to a psychologist was the best thing I could have done. Sometimes we are so scared to tell our thoughts and feelings to our loved ones, with the worry of what they may think of us. By talking to a psychologist, it allows you to speak freely and be completely open, without that feeling of judgement.
I also think there should be more support groups for women with PND/PNA. It is so reassuring when you speak to another mum who has suffered from it and you realise that despite all your thoughts, you are not actually the only one having them.
According to PANDA, up to 1 in 10 women will struggle with antenatal depression and more than 1 in 7 new mums will experience postnatal depression. 30% of all book proceeds will be donated to PANDA, to help raise awareness and increase support for Post Natal Depression.
If you or someone you love is currently suffering from Post Natal Depression, contact PANDA for help or more information - click here.