I have tried so hard not to write this post. Don’t get me wrong – it is not through any feelings of shame at admitting my years of battling depression and anxiety (anyone who knows me and this blog will know I am totally open about my mental health issues and have a page devoted to posts on the subject by me, and by others) but because I felt I had nothing to add to the discussion of the Germanwings plane crash tragedy and subsequent media treatment of the story. I shared a couple of posts on Facebook, but quickly realised how wound up I was feeling and made the decision to step back and observe, as people I respect and mental health organisations made statements I heartily endorsed.
But this morning, having read a great post from The Blurt Foundation and more of the marvellous Matt Haig (whose book about his own experiences of depression Reasons to Stay Alivewas published last week), and seeing the vitriol being poured forth by Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan on twitter, I can resist comment no longer.
What are people like Hopkins and Morgan FOR? Who do they think they are representing? Why should they be allowed to berate those with mental health issues on a public forum in the most hateful and bullying terms and be allowed to get away with it? I am not going to give any more publicity than is absolutely necessary to the comments Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan have made – if you are interested you can go on their twitter accounts – but the general gist is that those of us with depression are self-absorbed, malingering, attention seeking hysterics who are only after a sick note. In addition, we are a danger to the public and, as a consequence of the Germanwings crash ought not to be allowed to use anything resembling machinery. Continue reading “How depression has been let down by the media: On Hopkins, Morgan & the battle ahead”
Dandelions and Bad Hair Days: Untangling lives affected by depression and anxiety was published on 10th October 2012. Regular readers of my blog will know that many of the pieces in that book started life as guest posts on the ‘mental health monthly’ guest slot here on No Wriggling and I am proud to say that we are now well into our second print run and selling well on Amazon, via the publisher’s website and on the book’s own site at www.dandelionsandbadhairdays.wordpress.com.
In a radio interview I did for BBC Somerset I was asked whether I was planning a second volume. My answer – other than ‘let us sell lots of the first first!’ was ‘perhaps’. I am of course reliant on the wonderful people who are willing to put their mental health stories ‘out there’ and I have been commissioned to write a social history book on mental health after the First World War, which must take precedence. However, in the meantime I thought it would be wonderful to continue to highlight all the stories that are already on the net and the websites and blogs that offer the opportunity for people to share experiences and become part of something positive, as one reviewer of DABHD has said about the effect the book had on them:
“It makes me think about it like people from lost tribes having found each other, or having found the thread that connects them”…..
So here is a great piece written by Trish Hurtubise, the Founder and Editor of Mental Health Talk, a website that she describes as ‘an eclectic collection of stories and wisdom from people who experience mental health issues’. I came across it quite by chance via Twitter and as someone who experiences depression and crippling anxiety I felt really supported by Trish’s approach to publishing the words of people for whom getting their voice heard is one step towards recovery. I am thrilled that she has agreed to tell her story for No Wriggling. Continue reading “The start of a new collection? Guest post: Trish Hurtubise talks mental health…”
In a few months time a book will be published; an anthology of prose and poetry on the experience of mental health issues. It will have my name on the cover and I will have written some of the pieces the book includes. It will be called ‘Dandelions and Bad Hair Days’, inspired by one of the posts written by writer Viv Tuffnell and all royalties will go to nominated mental health charities. The picture at the top of this post is the original artwork painted and donated as the cover by Ingrid Smejkal. However nervous I might feel, there is much to be proud of in bringing it to publication.
But as I do so, and especially as I have been drafting the acknowledgements, I have been thinking about how it all started. And it started with ‘mummyblogging’.
In fact, this is a great moment to celebrate that fact. This post is written for Jo Middleton over at Slummysinglemummy, the funniest blog about the joys (or otherwise) of single parenting you are likely to find. I am lucky enough to count Jo as a friend and ex-work colleague and it was as we were procrastinating over some fundraising project or other that she explained to me about how her blog was gathering readers, and how it was helping hone her writing skills. I was intrigued. Newly redundant with a lifelong ambition to spend my time tapping away at a keyboard being creative, this seemed an avenue I needed to explore.
Editor’s note:The monthly mental health guest post on No wriggling for March has been written by Mark K. Social networks provide great support to those with mental health issues and it is via twitter that I ‘met’ Mark. Writing has long been a release for him during bouts of deep depression, but only recently, after changes to his diagnosis & treatment, he has started writing when not under the cloud of depression. He is using this new found freedom to write on mental health issues, to help raise awareness & to fight the stigma associated with mental illness. He blogs at http://nudirection.blogspot.com.au/
Just 12 months ago I was diagnosed as bipolar. I was told I suffered from social phobia, had anxiety issues, suffered from PTSD & was mildly obsessive-compulsive. Yet the year that has just passed is the best I’ve had in probably 15 years or more. How can it be that despite this alarming list of mental illnesses, I’m so much better today than I was?
The answer is quite simple. Before this diagnosis I was being treated based on an eleven year old diagnosis, a diagnosis I had believed was incorrect for most of that time. In early 2000 I was diagnosed with major depression – a label that I would live with for the next eleven years. I never realised it at the time, but once you’re labelled by a doctor as having a certain illness, it can be very, very hard to get it changed, even if you know it’s incorrect.