Dianne Parsons has worked alongside her husband Rob for over 30 years with Care for the Family. In her new book and journal, 'You, Me and Coffee', she explores topics like self esteem, loneliness and her experience with postnatal depression and ME.

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Those would be three very valuable things, I think, in a marriage.

Jonathan: You have battled with some things; there was a time when you struggled to care for your own family due to illness with post natal depression and also ME. As you look back on that time, what do you think are the things you learnt from that and what advice would you have for anyone in a similar boat?

Dianne: If I'm honest, mine was more ME than postnatal depression. It brought in many years of darkness. Of course, I asked myself had I done anything wrong; Christians always do that, don't they? Have I upset God in any way? Is he punishing me? But I realised that wasn't the case. I just needed to trust him through those dark times.

It was long and it was hard and there are times even now that I get really tired. I get frustrated by that but God understands that; and he understands when we get angry with it.

I had some friends that I could continually talk to, they must have been so bored with me but they were so faithful and I'm so grateful to them for that. And Rob was amazing, he was so helpful. But it was hard. I realised I could only do what I could do and God wasn't testing me, he wasn't punishing me. And when I had a good day, I made the most of a good day.

I think I'd say just be gentle with yourself. God isn't testing you. There's a lovely phrase I think I used in the book, 'this too will pass away'. More often than not these things do pass away. And you come to the end of the tunnel and there is some light there. Not for everybody, I understand that, but for me that happened even though it was a long time coming.

Jonathan: How can people best help and journey with those who are suffering from illnesses that you would say are 'from the neck up'?

Dianne: Well, anything from the neck down people will bake a cake, won't they? But the neck up is more difficult. I think number one sometimes you have to recognise that you're going to be in it for the long haul, those people you are helping, it's not going to go tomorrow.

Not everything you say is going to make it better so you need to recognise that. You haven't got the magic wand that's going to make it go away tomorrow so you need to be there for the long haul, listening and helping out, baking a cake or making a meal. Just being there and trying to understand that this person doesn't really want to be like this at all. They would love to not have this hanging around their neck. Try and take them out or whatever but being there.

Jonathan: For people listening to this interview, I hope they can sense in the wisdom that you're sharing the soundness of your experience over many years on a lot of these life issues and a lot of that is conveyed in this book, You, Me and Coffee. Who would you say this book is particularly aimed at? Who is it for?

Dianne: I think it's more of a woman's book than a man's book, if I'm honest. I think it can reach any woman whether you've got a faith or no faith. I think it can reach a youngish lady, perhaps late teens and up to a hundred. As I said before, it's one of those books you can pick up and put down and read and get something out of it.

Jonathan: A final question, if people want to know more about you, your book or the work of Care for the Family how can they find out more?

Dianne: The website for Care for the Family is careforthefamily.org.uk. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.