Olivia Spencer, 31, is author of Sad Dad: An Exploration Of Postnatal Depression in Fathers (Free Association Books, September 2014)
I graduated with a degree in Philosophy and then went to train as a Chartered Accountant almost straight afterwards, qualifying in 2008 after three difficult years of study and exams. Luckily I had a strong relationship with my boyfriend, Robbie, who understood when I needed time to work. We got married in 2009 and our daughter, Polly, was born in 2010. I didn’t go back to work because of the difficulties in finding decent part time work, but I did continue to work from home as a freelance accountant and bookkeeper. Zach was born in 2011, and I kept up my freelance work which I could fit in around the children.
Last year I was given the opportunity to write a book about postnatal depression in fathers – I was talking to a friend in publishing who was trying to get someone to write on this under-acknowledged and virtually unrecognised subject. We agreed that I would write it in the time I had before I would write my dissertation for my MA in English which I am doing part time with the Open University – I was given 6 months to complete the project. Somehow I managed to fit in writing in the evenings and while the kids were at nursery. Having children has drastically changed our social lives, and so it wasn’t too difficult to sit down every evening and do some research or some writing. Robbie is a teacher and always has lots of work to do after the kids are in bed and so we sat down to work together – perhaps not everyone’s idea of quality time but at least we were spending time together! I enjoyed the writing process and in writing this book it’s become clear just how important it is that we recognise the existence of postnatal depression in fathers.
After I finish my MA, and after our third child is born and things have settled down I’d love to do more writing. I’ve already been thinking about the next thing I want to write about and have talked to my publisher who is keen for another book too. Writing is something I have found quite easy to fit into my life with children, and because it’s so flexible I’ve been able to keep up with some freelance accountancy work at the same time. Who knows where it will all lead me in the future, but at the moment I’m enjoying being busy and seeing what happens next.
Sad Dad: An Exploration of Postnatal Depression in Fathers is out on 1 September and is available for pre-order.