Today, Thursday 4th February, is “Time to Talk Day” – a day for people to come together and break the silence over mental health problems. Hacked Off supporter and target of press abuse, Danielle Hindley, saw her mental health seriously affected after libellous coverage of her business was published in the Mail on Sunday in 2017.
Danielle shares her story and her own struggles with her mental health below, in the hope that it will give courage and strength to others who have been affected by mental health problems.
My name is Danielle Hindley and I was a victim of press abuse towards the end of 2017. I have since been diagnosed with PTSD, and continue to suffer from anxiety. I have at times felt suicidal and attempted to take my life more than once during my legal battle against the Mail on Sunday, which wrote an inaccurate and misleading story about myself and small business which I run from home. In gathering the libellous story, a journalist entered my house under a false identity, and used a hidden camera to film myself, another client, and even my young child.
After learning that I had been secretly filmed during the reporter’s undercover visit in my house, even before the story was published, I began to feel as if my son and I were unsafe in our own home. I desperately tried to move house, and stopped working for a while because I was scared about letting clients into my home again. I found it difficult to trust people and put barriers up – even accusing a brand new client of being someone undercover, and rudely kicked her out of my home. Luckily, the poor lady later heard what I had been through and didn’t leave me a bad review. But I am mortified at how my mental state affected me in so many ways.
For months after the article I lived in bed 24/7, on cups of tea, without taking care of myself, in a dark bedroom. I was obsessed with finding justice. I would spend hours upon hours Googling the reporter who had written about me, the editor and the newspaper to try to find anything that could expose the newspaper for wrongly targeting me in this way. I would research in depth any legal cases I could find against newspapers, and plead with lawyers to help me. I would send emails to the complaints-handler IPSO until the early hours of the morning urging them to help; begging for proper investigations and justice.
This also affected my family. My son began having nightmares of me being murdered. School noticed disturbing changes in him. He kept asking to go home so he could “look after mummy and give her cuddles and make her cups of tea”. He knew I was fading away and I didn’t even notice his turmoil because I was so lost.
I would often go into panic attacks, losing my movement of hands and arms and even lost my vision briefly on 4 occasions. I had people who loved me but I couldn’t turn to them. They couldn’t make justice happen for me. I later went from being extremely underweight (after living on cups of tea) to gaining 3 and a half stone after excessively (and exclusively) eating chocolate and drinking cola. My physical health deteriorate, and I started suffering with acne and insomnia. I lost the hairs on my eyebrows and eyelashes as a result of the stress.
Just 3 weeks before my case went to court was the last time I considered taking my own life – an act which followed months of self-harm, and previous attempts. Luckily a tiny voice in my head told me to ask for help, and I thought of my son in the other room. So I called someone who came to stay with me and we cleaned me up.
I would like to say I am cured now, but there is no cure. I know I will suffer and have struggles forever. What I will say is I have found coping mechanisms that work for me and I am very much stable, calm and happy. Turns out I wasn’t meant to leave the world. I was meant to stay.