Emma White is a wife and mum to 6 children. She runs a blog and a facebook group where thousands of mothers are supporting each other. We have conducted an interview with her.
Why did you offer mothers a confidential place to ask for help or share their past demons?
Jigsaw Parenting is a blog for parents who are willing to read about and discuss those issues of parenting that can be difficult to talk about. I believe there should be no taboo topics when it comes to raising children and that for a child to be truly happy, their mother has to be too.
After creating a Facebook support group for mothers 5 years ago I was inundated with mothers asking me to post to the group anonymously for them as they felt ashamed, guilty or were afraid of judgement. So many women shared personal experiences with me and that is how the idea for the blog was born.
It is a blog for people who are reluctant to share experiences with other parents out of fear and shame. It is for this reason that I decided to open up the blog for anonymous stories so that other parents could relate their experiences and get feedback and help that is personal, real, and unadulterated.
The real life story section of the blog highlights taboo topics that many parent bloggers shy away from but Jigsaw Parenting highlights the real life problems facing today’s parents and holds them above judgement.
What was the special personal experience that made you start this offer?
After spending 11 years in an abusive marriage, I found the courage to take the children ( the eldest 3) and leave. I was able to start my life over again, I met a new man, married and had a further 3 children until life decided to come back for round two with me. Bipolar disorder tried to strip me of everything I held dear and it almost did. I fought back. After losing my career and my friends to a mental disorder and even my health due to an eating disorder, I made a promise to myself that I didn’t want any other woman to feel the way I did at that moment in my life.
I set up the support group for mothers suffering from parental mental health on Facebook and this is how the blog was created. I needed a larger platform to support them all. I turned my life around and I am helping others do the same.
I was able to offer mothers advice on a variety of taboo subjects because of my own life experiences but if I couldn't personally help then there were hundreds of mothers on the group who could. I became an online agony aunt and to this day I receive agony aunt questions via email that I share on the blog.
With having 6 children myself there isn't a parenting fail that would shock me.
Are the suggestions in the self-help section tried and tested by you?
I have bipolar to thank for my experience in CBT, DBT and Mindfulness. I have volunteered at my local mental health hospital for over 2 years now and work alongside so many amazing staff members, including my past psychiatrist and I have been able to complete courses designed for NHS staff members.
I am also a public speaker for the trust and attend conferences where I am able to deliver my own experiences of living with a mental illness and what treatments worked and did not and ideas of what could be introduced.
I have been lucky to trial many of the services/treatments offered to NHS service users, although I declined a visit to learn more about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
All the self-help guides I have written on the blog are techniques and tools that I personally use in my day to day life and I hope that they will help others to live a more fulfilled and happier life because life is for living, not surviving.
Which are the top 5 most popular posts other than the real life stories?
Smoking fetish problem with my new boyfriend - http://jigsawparenting.com/my-boyfriend-had-a-smoking-fetish/
10 Ways to punish a cheating boyfriend - http://jigsawparenting.com/punish-a-cheating-boyfriend/
Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness - http://jigsawparenting.com/do-not-confuse-my-bad-days-as-a-sign-of-weakness/
I want to sleep with my stepdad – shocking confession http://jigsawparenting.com/i-want-to-sleep-with-my-stepdad-shocking-confession/
30 Things men hate to hear during sex - http://jigsawparenting.com/30-things-men-hate-to-hear-during-sex/
What kind of stories are the most painful to read about?
There are 2 types of stories that are painful to read, the first is from women still trapped in abusive relationships. I feel the fear in their words. It can trigger past memories for me and I know I can not save them all because like me they will not leave for many years to come, but I go above and beyond to ensure these women are armed with local domestic violence support resources and encourage them to at least speak with one trusted family member or friend.
The other stories that are painful to read are those that involve thoughts of suicide due to a mental illness because I have been there many times myself. I know how it feels to believe your worthless, that your children would be better of without you and that you will never be happy again. Mental illness robs you of reality and it can be incredibly difficult to talk a mother out of suicide when all you have are words on a blog post or via email.
I never feel I am qualified, I have to accept that I am just one tiny fish in a very large ocean. I cant change the world, but I will die trying.
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