"So when exactly was it, when you felt like killing yourself?" said the journalist at the other end of the phone last week. "And that episode when you're crying in the shower, when was that?"
A confession: I was never much one for confessions. A lot of confessional journalism is fabulous, searing, inspirational. Some of it opens eyes and breaks down prejudice. Some of it is self-indulgent.
I never said I wouldn't do it: I just didn't think I'd ever have anything that important to speak up about.
But then my daughter - my precious darling big girl, the grace of my heart and so-named - was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, and our world changed.
I felt lonely and confused. Grace felt lonely and confused. I was angry a lot of the time. So was she. She would come home alight with tension after a day of trying to process a world that couldn't make room for her and I would watch helpless from the sidelines as she went off into another meltdown, fizzing and jittering and shrieking like a Catherine wheel. I felt burdened by a huge responsibility and clueless about how to help.
One thing Grace would say again and again was: "Why doesn't anyone understand?" Then she started to say: "I'm so stupid and useless."
So I thought I would see if I could find a way to help other people understand and in the process make my daughter feel better about herself. By then I was noting down my thoughts daily, in a scrappy journal, in a barely-readable scrawl, as I travelled to work by tube. I thought if I could scribble down all my jumbled, jangled responses to the situation in which Grace and I found ourselves, then somehow a way ahead would reveal itself. Then I thought: why don't I just write it all out and ask other people to read it, and see what they think.
I said to Grace: "I'm thinking of starting a blog, to tell people what it's like to have Asperger's."
She brightened immediately. "Yes!" she said. "I want people to know what it's like. Please will you tell them?"
So I started. Grace read every entry. She talked openly about how she felt and was honest when things were bad, when school went wrong again and friendships failed. Sometimes she would read an entry and ask why I was feeling the way I was. We talked a lot about emotions and she learned along the way. (Contrary to popular opinion, my Aspergers daughter is highly sensitive about how other people are feeling and is agonisingly empathetic. She just struggles to interpret emotions in the moment.) Sometimes I would ask her whether it was ok to write about something particularly painful. There was a lot of stuff I didn't write down.
There were some very tough times. When they came around, I thought I should be honest about them. In so doing I've been told by many other parents of autistic children that it's a relief to see someone telling the brutal truth about the downs. There is so much pressure to be relentlessly optimistic that when the outlook seems bleak it can seem a betrayal to be honest about it.
But this was never meant to be a sob story. My daughter's life is not a tragedy. When I read the doleful medical reports, the diagnosis, the regular assessments, I would think: whose child is this? My Grace sparkles and entrances, and holds any room in the palm of her hand. I wanted to show people that she is not defined by her Aspergers. It is who she is in the same way that she has brown eyes and long, long legs and a delicious expression of mischief that always betrays her ahead of a prank. (I hope she never loses it.)
We've both grown in confidence since I started blogging. Grace has full time help in school now, after our a long battle with the authorities to get a statement of educational needs. These days she comes through the school gates beaming and telling me she's had a great day. She's winning gold stars and trophies. And she's looking forward to going to secondary school. Meanwhile I ran the London Marathon this year, wearing the National Autistic Society's vest and on Sunday I'll run the Royal Parks half-marathon for the second time as part of the NAS team. In the last year I've raised just over £6,000. And I've built up my mental strength as well as my muscles.
I wouldn't quite call it a happy ending - we both know the road ahead is likely to have many more bumps - but life today feels good.
Grace is excited and proud to be in the Guardian and the Times newspapers. When we received the first deliveries of our book, which is published this week, she picked it up and turned it over and over with an expression of wonder. I said to her: "Shall I stop writing the blog now? I think maybe it's time that you had some adventures in private." She turned to me in alarm and said: "No! Please don't. It helps me tell people what it's like."
So for now I'll keep blogging. There is still plenty to say. I think and hope the next year will be more positive. I still have worries about my daughter. I fret about the challenges of adolescence and the next stage of her education. I fret about the lack of official support, from the government's plans for SEN reform, to Michael Gove's plans to change the examination system.
But now I know I have a voice and I hope that I can make a difference. And now I know I can run, and get through the difficulties. And I know that now and always I can take my lead from my daughter, whose courage and dignity and warmth is inspirational.
Gracie, my darling pet, thank you. I love you.
If you would like to support me on Sunday's run, and help me raise awareness of autism, please click here
If you would like to read our book, please click here