Brave Mother Who Attempted Suicide Shares Brutally Honest Account Of Motherhood
Catherine Mousley, 34, who lives in south London, became pregnant for the first time in January 2017.
But when Catherine's baby was diagnosed with chromosome abnormality Monosomy 21 and Down's syndrome, she and her partner Chris Holt, 37, made the heart-breaking decision to terminate the pregnancy at 17 weeks.
The following year, in May 2018, Catherine gave birth to son Jake, but she carried so much guilt from her abortion that she struggled to bond with her new baby.
The Project Coordinator has a history of mental illness, having suffered from severe anorexia and bulimia since she was 12, as well as depression and anxiety.
After relocating from a small town near Nottingham to London, the pressures of building a new life while being pregnant with Jake triggered a decline in Catherine's mental health.
Social media played a role in her breakdown, too. Confronted with an endless stream of posts and images depicting 'perfect' motherhood, she became convinced that she had failed as a parent.
"During my pregnancy and after Jake was born, Instagram created some sort of perfect image of motherhood which made me feel as though I wasn't a good enough mother," Catherine explained.
"When I first attempted suicide, I was so on the edge and the trigger was that I was struggling being around Jake, so I made a snap decision to end it all.
"I wanted to end my life because I didn't feel like I deserved to be a mother after I ended my first baby's life."
Catherine was sectioned at South London's Bethlem Royal Hospital's Mother and Baby Unit [MBU] but self-harmed, cutting her arms with a razor blade, one time making 17 lacerations.
During her time in the MBU, despite being kept on watch, Catherine overdosed in an attempt to end her own life twice, in November and December 2018. While in the unit, she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
She was also interviewed by BBC documentary-maker Louis Theroux for his series Mothers on the Edge, in which the investigative journalist met mothers suffering from severe mental illnesses.
Catherine's honesty about her difficulties propelled her to national fame.
The brave mum was discharged in January last year, and has come a long way in 12 months.
Today she shares the daily highs and lows of looking after little Jake, now 20 months, with over 3000 social media followers.
Catherine is determined to show her followers the full picture of parenthood - good and bad - and let other mums battling mental illness know that they're not alone.
Talking about her trauma, Catherine said: "It was very stressful and emotional time and I was consumed with the guilt about ending my child's life.
"If I had brought my baby into the world they would have had life threatening conditions, but I feared so much judgement either way.
"During my pregnancy with Jake, I had no physical complications but mentally I felt so anxious because I was worried that we might lose him too.
"I was so distressed about something going wrong. I felt strongly about ending my life if my second pregnancy had problems, I just couldn't cope. When Jake was delivered by the midwife and laid on my chest, I felt nothing, there was no rush of love."
Catherine's recovery is ongoing, but she is in a much healthier place mentally and physically, and has gained strength from sharing her experiences.
She and partner Chris are undergoing couples counselling to help them re-bond, and Catherine has taken on a course in A&E peer support, where she will use own experiences to help others and provide a bridge between patients and psychiatrists.
"I'm so glad the suicide attempts didn't work and, even though they did leave me with liver damage, there's so much that life has to offer. The joy Jake brings me now is immense and he makes me laugh every day.
"I feel so fortunate to be able to help others. I always had so much inside to say but no courage or place to say it, but now I've found my community on Instagram.
"It's so important to share the brutal realities of parenting online because there's this fantasy mums should immediately fall in love with their baby, but that isn't real for everyone.
"I want to show the real side of parenting, to show that other mums are going through the same thing."
"I want to convey real experiences of mental health in all its raw and honest intensity. I hope my words are a source of comfort to others. Someone told me my Instagram account saves lives - I really hope I've helped to do this."
Featured Image Credit: Caters