BBC Ouch!

A little while ago, I responded to an open submission for stories about relationships and disabilities. Before I knew it, I was asked to appear on a radio broadcast/podcast. Then, shortly before recording, the event was upgraded to a "lights, cameras, action!" affair.

On the day, I had a massive panic attack. I kept forgetting my lines due to nerves. With an hour to go, I wore out the pavement in front of the venue. When I felt I could no longer bear it, I decided I would go inside, apologise to the producers for any inconvenience and explain that I was going home.

As if fate were intervening my sister arrived, hugged me, and bought me a pint. Her pride and enthusiasm overwhelmed me: I couldn't let her down. Shortly after, my partner arrived. The opportunity to escape dissolved.

I'm not a performer, I'm a writer. In the words of one of my tutors: "Writers write because they can't speak." That has always felt true of me. Somewhere along the way, I ha…

A Letter for Carrie Fisher

Dear Carrie,

I very nearly didn’t write this. After all, aren’t open letters a pointless, self-indulgent staple of tragedy hipsters? Then again, who am I to judge? There’s an incessant stream of self-consciousness between my ears. (That pun was for you).

We never knew each other, Carrie. We didn’t even come close. You were a Hollywood star long before I was a lecherous smooch. I would never claim we had some special unspoken connection nor that we were kindred spirits – I have none of your comedic Midas touch and you have none of my… Look, I’m just going to put [insert talent here], self-esteem isn’t a strength of mine.

Getting back to the point: you were an inspiration to anyone who experienced mental health issues, addiction, sexism, or, well, life.

You weren’t the greatest actress in the world, Carrie. But you didn’t need to be. That wasn’t what made you special. You were so endearing because you shone a witty, vulnerable and earnest light on your not-so-private struggles. You did …

Christmas Day

This 25th of December will be the first time since I started university that I want to enjoy Christmas day. I'm really looking forward to it – I hope to relax and appreciate the company of my family and share in the atmosphere of love and warmth.

But the last few Christmases haven't been that way, and in the spirit of the day I think it's important to remember what the 25th of December can be like for people suffering with mental illness. Regardless of your personal beliefs (I'm agnostic, so Christmas is about family for me), I think Christmas offers a time for reflection regarding those less fortunate than yourself. Lots of groups of people are covered by this idea, but I'm often surprised by how few people consider the mentally ill on Christmas day.

Imagine waking up on Christmas morning only to resent the fact that you're alive. Imagine spending most of Christmas day in tears, not able to express exactly why. Imagine looking at a large spread of food with no…

Interview with Annie Othen @ BBC Coventry and Warwickshire


Getting the Support You Deserve 101

N.B.:This post assumes that you are in need of advice about making the bestuse of the support systems at your university or higher education institution. The advice here does not address how to seek medical or professional support for mental health issues. If you are concerned about your mental health, please contact your Doctor or a support network such as SAMARITANS (08457 90 90 90) or NIGHTLINE

A recent e-mail made me realise that I don't have a general "top tips to get the most out of your university" post on this blog. I should stress that this is only advice and there is no guarantee that it's effective, but I've tried to make this post informative and applicable to all higher education institutions. Here goes!

Firstly and most importantly: remember that you pay fees to attend university (unless you have a sponsorship arrangement or live in Scotland, in which case this still applies because your place is worth a lot of money and you're an investment).…

My Next Project After Warwick.

Having finished my degree, I'm left with a question I never thought I'd face: what do I do?

To explain: I assumed that either before or shortly after finishing my time at university, I'd commit suicide. Fortunately, thanks to therapy and drugs and those closest to me, that's no longer something I want to do. I'm still depressed, but I'm not suicidal.

Having assumed that I wouldn't be around, I never gave any thought to a career. When I did, I decided that I wanted to focus on raising awareness about mental health issues, at least for the foreseeable future. But having experienced how badly campaigning can go, I've decided to use what little (if any) skills I have at writing to talk about mental health issues instead. So, I contacted the mental health charity Mind about something I wanted to do to support them. I came up with this:

In the throws of my depress…

End of a Degree. (*Trigger Warning)

Author's Note: This post talks about suicide and suicidal thoughts – some people may find this upsetting. If you're unsure about whether or not to read further, please don't.

I've finished my exams now. Degree over. I don't know what I've got yet, but I did some maths and in all likelihood I've got a high 2:1. Not bad I guess when you factor in chronic depression.

I've begun to have quite loud suicidal thoughts. Obviously, I wouldn't be writing about this if said thoughts weren't under control; this is not a cry for help, a request for sympathy or a public suicide warning. I'm simply choosing to talk about something that I don't think people talk about often enough.

It's odd, but I've assumed for a long long time that at the end of my degree I would commit suicide. I don't know why it made sense in my head to wait until my degree was over, but it seemed reasonable to me that getting my BA was the last milestone before deat…