I first ‘met’ my Twitter friend James Lindsay online when he was first starting to talk about his schizoaffective disorder and psychosis. James also works for Mind doing important work in the mental health sphere and we both live locally to one another. I am really proud of James’s determination, not only in his own life, but to help others through his writing and his new book ‘Befriending My Brain’ with Cherish Editions (Trigger Publishing).
An eye-opening memoir about a young man’s descent into schizoaffective disorder– and the steps he took to regain control of his life.
It’s no secret that, in recent years, mental health has become a major topic of conversation. But just because many people feel comfortable discussing their depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, doesn’t mean that we have removed all stigma from such diagnoses. This is especially true when it comes to psychotic disorders, which affect less than 1 in 100 people in the UK each year (Mind), thus leaving these disorders shrouded in mystery. It doesn’t help that what the media portrays as schizophrenia or psychosis is not always what the sufferer experiences in real life.
As such, it’s vital that we start to bring psychotic disorders, including psychosis, to the forefront. According to a 2016 report from Public Health England, “psychosis is one of the most life-impacting conditions in healthcare.” But with the proper treatment and understanding, it doesn’t have to be life-altering. The same report states that the sooner someone is treated for their psychosis, the better the chances that they will recover and return to their normal lives.
James Lindsay has experienced the ups and downs of schizoaffective disorder first-hand, and his book does the vital work of removing some of the mystery surrounding such a diagnosis. It includes the red flags he recognises in hindsight after psychosis landed him in hospital for the better part of a month, but it also retells the inspiring journey he took to recovery in all aspects of his life.
In his case, psychosis and his path to better mental health gave him a new passion in life: helping others through their own diagnoses and getting their lives back, just as he did. No matter where readers are on their journeys, James’ memoir will resonate and remind them, as he puts it, that “recovery is always possible, and hope is never far away.”
You can buy a copy of Befriending My Brain: A Psychosis Story by James Lindsay at Amazon, Trigger, Waterstones, WH Smith and all good bookshops.
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR Hailing from Watford, Hertfordshire, James Lindsay works for Hertfordshire Mind Network and uses his free time to advocate for mental health care by blogging and appearing on podcasts and TV. James enjoys playing football, going to the cinema, spending time with friends and family, and exploring new places, with his partner, Holly. Befriending My Brain is his first book.
I hope that by sharing my story (and my Dads too) that it helps you or someone you know going through mental illness. I hope that it shone a light on the dark, gritty parts of bipolar that many will never experience. And I hope that my book also shows the happy parts; recovery, that you can live and thrive again.
Bipolar is a complex and messy condition. It can ruin lives. There is no sugar coating. But you can be well too if you can find the right balance of medication and therapy…which is trial and error.
Thank you to every person who read it, reviewed it and got in touch to tell me their own journey.😍 Please continue to share and gift it to someone who needs it.
If you havnt read my story yet; the book is available in Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith; Blackwells and is available in the USA and Europe.
Thank you to all of you who have supported me – it means the world.
Sometimes, you receive amazing book reviews on the internet and don’t realise they are there!
Yesterday, I stumbled upon Deb Wilk’s blog Living Bipolar – Deb has lived with bipolar disorder for many years and very kindly reviewed my book last year. She lives in the USA and is a talented blogger, sharing about her life living with bipolar.
I don’t always know what to expect with reviews, but this was so positive so thank you Deb for reading, enjoying and recommending my book Bring me to Light: Embracing my Bipolar and Social Anxiety. Heres some quotes from the review:
“Every word, paragraph and chapter of Bring Me to Light was utterly mesmerizing. Eleanor Segall’s account of her battle with bipolar 1, panic attacks, and crippling social anxiety is so vibrant that the reader feels as though they are experiencing it right alongside her.
I would love to describe the book in detail, but I am not going to give anything away because this book is an absolute must-read. Anyone who is bipolar or loves someone who is, should read this story. It is a moving narrative that anyone, even those who do not suffer with mental illness, should read. …
She is now an extremely forceful voice in the mental health community, and this accolade is incredibly well deserved. Please read this book. You will find it well worthwhile and, I am certain, as enthralling as I did.” (Deb Wilk, living bipolar blog)
The other day I was contacted over on Twitter by a senior mental health nurse who had read my book ‘Bring me to Light.: embracing my bipolar and social anxiety’. She felt that it should be read by her colleagues at Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust, here in England, and so donated a copy to the staff library for them to read- and they shared this photo.
This was by far one of the most touching and special things to have happened on my book journey- while it may seem small, to me it means the world.
I wrote my book, my memoir about living with bipolar disorder and social anxiety to help other people going through it (and their families) feel less alone. However, to see it being used by mental health hospitals- where I have been twice in my life, though in London- brings me hope.
Hope that professionals will read it and learn from it (there were times in hospital that I wasn’t fully happy with my care but most staff were amazing).
Hope that we can make a change and help the stigma around mental illness to fall.
Hope that by sharing my story, it will encourage others to feel comfortable to share theirs without fear of shame or embarrassment.
So thank you to Dawn💕 and Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust. If you’d like a copy of my book : https://lnkd.in/e3cheTw
Pushing Through The Cracks: In the Darkness of Her Family’s Mental Illness She Found Light by Emily J. Johnson is an incredible book. It is a story that I don’t believe has ever been written about before in such a way in the mental health space, I have certainly never come across it. Its a true memoir that occurred here in the UK during lockdown.
Emily wrote to me and kindly sent me a free copy of her book. I was hooked from the first page- this is a story of survival against the odds, of how mental illness can rip a family apart but how healing and hope are possible. Of strength through immense difficulty. Of light winning over darkness.
Four years ago, in the UK, Emily, a divorced mother of two, was living her best life with a new partner and blended family of six. But then addiction and mental illness entered her home uninvited, threatening to tear the whole family apart.
With an alcoholic husband and two teenage sons – one a depressed gambler and the other with chronic obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)– Emily is left to cope alone. And when the Covid pandemic hits, Emily, a ‘serial people-pleaser, enabler and born rescuer’, almost breaks too.
This true story delves into the darkest sides of mental illness and addiction with raw, often harrowing honesty. It shines a light on taboo subjects including self-harm, suicidal feelings, gambling, alcoholism, depression, severe OCD and eating disorders, all exacerbated by an unprecedented global pandemic and dwindling support services.
This is a story of remarkable strength, self-realisation and reclamation of a lost identity. This is a story of finding hope, pushing through the cracks in the darkness. It is also a story that touches on the difficulties of accessing UK NHS mental health services at times, especially CAMHS.
I found Emily’s strength through such severe adversity – dealing with a husband and two sons with severe mental illness, whilst carrying on with her own life when mental illness permeated every part, to be so inspiring. Her marriage falls apart, her children are unable to attend work and education, the family embarks on several different recovery journeys- navigating NHS mental health care and all its difficulties. Her sons addictions and acute OCD worsen and add to the pressures for Emily. How does she as a mother fix it all? She realises.. she can’t fix anyone and its not her job too.
The front cover features a dandelion pushing through the cracks of the ground. Emily describes the moment she hits rock bottom but then saw a dandelion poking through- which symbolised hope and light for her,
‘(image: Emily J. Johnson)
‘I pick up my phone and call a crisis support line…I desperately want someone to listen to me, to ease my pain, to hear my stories…(of mental illness at home)
I throw my phone across the path in frustration… something catches my eye, a beautiful yellow dandelion is growing through a crack in the concrete. Its golden yellow petals cut through the greyness of the broken path and it overshadows the filth and discarded cigarette butts around it. Despite its surroundings, it has found ways to push up through that crack, to have life. it is. not complaining or giving up, it’s surviving and it will go on to finish flowering. One day soon, the wind will carry its dainty seeds somewhere else to carry on the cycle of its life.
Just like that dandelion, I have pushed through adversity and survived. …I close my eyes and raise my face to the sunshine… Even in the midst of all this chaos, this darkness, there is warmth and light. There is hope.” (from chapter Dandelion) (Emily J. Johnson)
This is also a book which exposes the difficulties and realities of living with mental illness. I will add a trigger warning- it doesn’t hold back on the reality of mental illness including self harm, addiction, alcoholism, suicidal thoughts etc- so please read with care.
Thank you Emily for letting me read and follow the journey of your family. I hope your husband and sons are able to fully battle their demons and recover or stay in remission. Pushing Through the Cracks by Emily J. Johnson can be bought from Amazon and good book shops.
I am absolutely delighted to read and review this incredible childrens book from the Sophie Says series by author and award winning campaigner Esther Marshall (with illustrator Buzz Burry).
Esther’s story is close to my heart as not only is she from my own community but her late sister Rebecca z’l was a doctor who had bipolar disorder and sadly passed away a few years ago, while Esther was writing her second book. Esther has shared that it was her sister who encouraged and inspired her idea to write the childrens books that she couldn’t see for her own child (in terms of positive messages, inspiring rolemodels and diverse characters in terms of both race and gender). Through her sister’s struggles, Esther also began to include positive mental health messages on talking and sharing emotions, self belief and self esteem too.
Esther has said,
“I knew from the second my son was born I wanted to teach him that girls were just as strong and powerful as boys, that people from different backgrounds to him could teach him things and he should listen and be kind to everyone. The problem was, all the books I could find to read to him had:
Mostly male characters (even the animals)
Little to no diversity or representation
No female role models he could look up to
So I decided that if I couldn’t find the book I wanted to read to my son, I’d better write my own.
I want all children to know and believe that they can achieve their dreams regardless of gender, race, religion or class”,
Esther at Sophie Says has not only thought about what stories she wants to tell through the books, but what messages children reading them will take and absorb. She has partnered with illustrator Buzz Burry and comments, ‘we are helping children bypass harmful stereotypes before they set in by changing the face of children’s literature. Our mission is to enable all children to grow up feeling equipped and empowered to face their futures. To learn more about themselves, others and the world around them. We are helping parents to teach their children positive messages and providing a toolkit to navigate some of the trickier conversations.‘
Esther very kindly gifted me copies of her first two books- Sophie Says I Can I will– which is about a little girl Sophie with big dreams and no limits. and Sophie Says It’s Okay Not To Be Okay which focuses on Sophie, Jordyn and Jamie on their journey as they learn that it’s okay to talk about their feelings and it’s okay not to be okay. The books are for children in the early years, ages 3-7 years and reading the books with either parents, carers or teachers is recommended. Esther told me she has ‘tried to create books which cater to both home and school so that it can be embedded in both parts of a child’s life and become the foundation of them building resilience at an early age.’
Sophie Says It’s Okay not to be Okay is a very special book- and one of the first I have seen to address children’s mental health in an age appropriate way, to teach children about their emotions and that it’s OK to feel sad, scared or worried. The book follows Jamie who is looking down and feeling sad but whose best friends Sophie and Jordyn help him through and Sophie tells him ‘its okay not to be okay’. They take him to the zoo to help him feel better and speak to Sophie’s older sister Meghan who is wise and will give good advice. Esther named the character after Meghan, Duchess of Sussex who she met with Prince Harry and other young leaders and was inspired by (she gave them a copy of the book too!)
Meghan (the character) says this important message,
”It’s okay to be sad and okay to feel down. Just make sure you have good friends around. There may be days when you feel you’re alone but around us, you’ll always be at home. Its Okay not to be okay”
The book also reinforces self belief and esteem , reiterating that ‘YOU are enough!’ and encourages children to talk about their feelings because it can help. Jamie then says he will speak about his feelings in a place he feels safe in the zoo,
‘I don’t really know how to describe how I feel As I can’t work out what’s in my head and what’s real.
He said ‘ a smile may be what you see, but that’s not what I feel inside me
There are times I feel quite alone because these feelings are unknown
Some days I’m happy and some days I’m sad and other days I just feel so bad’
His friends then show him support and love, take him to the funfair, all while reinforcing positive kindness and support- ‘Yes we can!” . The book talks positively about the kindness of friendships always being a safe space to talk. This is so important for children particularly in the early years who are learning to understand their feelings.
Esthers writing is beautiful- on one of the last pages of the book she says ‘Whatever you do, be kind, you never know what’s going on in someone’s mind’.
The book was informed by her sister Rebecca’s struggle with mental illness (bipolar disorder). Esther has said, ‘I had always planned to write another book all around mental health to help children understand their feelings and talk about them more openly, and I sadly lost my sister, Rebecca, to mental illness as I was writing it. So the second book Sophie Says It’s Okay not to be Okay is dedicated to her memory’.
Esther wanted to amplify the message and so it was released on World Mental Health Day. The book provides a toolkit for parents who want to help their children to express their own emotions.
She has been visiting schools and doing zoom readings of her book to share the messages for her. Esther told me, I would love that as a result of children reading the Sophie Says books that children understand these vitally important lessons through a fun way of learning and it helps them build resilience and confidence to go out and achieve their full potential whilst being able to understand and manage both their physical and mental health. .’.
Esther is a true force of nature and someone who inspires me so much. She has just released a third book in the series Sophie Says Be Proud of Who You Are which is about Sophie and the rest of the Sophie Says crew on their exciting seaside adventure as they help their friend Priya build her confidence, as they guide her through believing in herself and being proud of who she is. The perfect book to help your child build their confidence and self esteem!
I would recommend the Sophie Says books to all parents, teachers and carers of young children. I can’t wait to see how this brand grows and what Esther achieves (she has achieved so much already!). She should be rightly proud of her work and all she has created.
To learn more about Sophie Says and buy the books click here
Hi, I’m the founder of Sophie Says and the author of the books within the series. The idea for the first book (Sophie Says I Can, I Will) came to me after having my son, Asher (who is the first and most important reader of all the books!).
I knew I wanted him to grow up understanding that both girls and boys could achieve anything that they set their minds to, but I couldn’t find any books that featured a female lead character (a human one, not an animal one!) that really represented the message I wanted to teach him. So I thought, if I can’t find the story I want to tell, I’d better write it myself.
I was gifted two books in exchange for an honest review. Any links are unpaid. These books are incredible.
(image: Charlotte Greaves/Twitter and Book by Matt Haig)
Today here in England has felt chilly, windy and cooler than the heatwave of a few months back. Its only the 1st September but there is that back to work. and school feeling, but also a feeling of cosiness.
I love this time of year. I never used to, with it getting darker earlier, but now I love the cosiness of Autumn- reading a good book, watching a good movie and snuggling under blankets with hot chocolate.
I normally use this to give updates on my mental health and write about how I am getting on. The truth is, I have been anxious at times and dealing with panic from time to time, so I have restarted therapy. However, so much of life is appreciating the good things so heres what I am loving..
You all know i love to read! I found this book online- I loved Matt Haigs book Reasons to Stay Alive, where he discusses his own depression. Its a book that has complete honesty and I found the same for his novel The Midnight Library. The Midnight Library- a novel by Matt Haig
I had been a bit late to read this (it came out last year) but the book touched me so much! Its about Nora Seed, whose life unravels to the point where she begins to feel suicidal and wants to end her life. I won’t ruin the book but she ends up in a spiritual/ fictional library with her trusted school librarian Mrs Elm and she is able to try on parallel lives- What if she had married someone? Had children? had a different career? become famous? What if she had said or something different- what if her life choices led her to different events or people?
We follow Nora on her journey of self discovery and as she navigates her own life, mental health issues, and overcoming her challenges. She is guided by Mrs Elm and the whirring library of lives she finds herself in- which includes the ‘Book of Regrets.’
This book speaks to me on so many levels. My favourite quote is this,
‘The paradox of volcanoes is that they were symbols of destruction but also life. ..She wasn’t a black hole, she decided. She was a volcano. And like a volcano, she couldn’t run away from herself…she’d have to stay there and tend to that wasteland. She could plant a forest inside herself.‘- Matt Haig
Matt Haigs writing is so beautiful- and I think this book will be turned into a movie. I recommend it if you are feeling well (as it does talk about suicidal ideation, which could be triggering). Its a wonderful book and completely unique.
The library metaphor and parallel universe theory pervade throughout. Although I am useless at Physics, its an interesting theory that there could be parallel lives or universes.
I recommend this to those who wish to be inspired- its just a really exceptional piece of writing and it will touch many hearts.
Note: This is not a paid ad for the Midnight Library- I just read it and loved it so much!
I have written here before but I am so excited to say that the Book of Hope, which features my essay ‘Of Hope and Sunflowers’ and put together by my friends Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger is out now! Happy Publication Day!
It is such an honour to be in a book with so many incredible people in their own fields talking about overcoming their own adversity and mental health issues.
As I write, the book is currently 16th in the bestsellers chart for all books on Amazon.
Hugely thankful to Jonny and Britt for including me in such a great project.
I really wanted to write today because the sun is shining, apple blossom is on the trees and Spring is finally here! I always feel more hopeful and happy once Spring is here but living with bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder can mean that some days are harder than others.
This week, I have really struggled with low mood and social anxiety. I’m an optimistic person and sometimes I pack too much into my days and end up having a panic attack because I can’t cope. This is what happened to me yesterday when I decided it would be a great idea to pack in too much, including going across London and delivering many Body Shop orders to my customers and friends. My social anxiety was so high (I think largely due to being in lockdown) , I just wanted to hide and I ended up sleeping to escape my feelings and feeling super low. I am lucky that I understand what to do when this happens and I have a husband and family who support me too. I am still in therapy for my panic disorder and it has improved a lot but there are times when it gets triggered like this week.
I have also found that I am worrying more about what people think of me- if I have said the right or wrong thing or upset anyone. Its so silly but due to past rejection I get scared and those fears bubble to the surface.
On Friday, I had a really productive therapy session. There are a lot of worries about the future that I still hold and being able to unpack them in therapy is really useful for me. I am doing EMDR trauma therapy but a lot of it is talking out and facing those triggers one by one. I have a very good relationship with my therapist and having a session often calms my mind.
In positive news, last week I became an aunt to a beautiful baby girl, Cara Harriet who is the sweetest little baby. She is a joy and light in all our lives and I feel so lucky to have a little niece! My sister and brother in law are amazing 🙂
And in other good news, in April, my essay in the Book of Hope by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger will be published alongside many others I look up to (Dame Kelly Holmes and my friend Hope Virgo). So there are good things as well as bad!
I am doing a lot better- I dont rapid cycle, I havn’t had an episode of mania or hypomania since 2014. My brain seems to like Lithium and Quetaipine (a mood stabiliser and anti psychotic). I have to learn to be kind to myself and practise self care, because my social anxiety is a fear response from the past.
Being kind to myself is of utmost importance. Heres a list of what I do when I am having a bad day: take a nap, have a bubble bath, read a book, hug the guineapigs and Rob, talk to Rob, a friend or family member, put on a face mask, cry, breathe and listen to calming music, watch a good TV show (I have been watching First Dates Teens), book in a therapy session, eat something nice, put some make up on, wash my hair, wear an uplifting perfume.
Yesterday, on 5th November, my book Bring me to Light: Embracing my Bipolar and Social Anxiety (with Trigger Publishing) turned one!
Today, I got this lovely review from a Twitter follower Robin so I thought I would share it here:
‘It is an amazing book, really enjoyed reading it. An honest and open account of life with bipolar, your strength of character shone through. Thank you for being so open and writing it. – Robin Josephs
I wrote my book to help others and dispell the stigma about severe mental illness. Everyone is human and everyone has mental health. Whether you have never suffered or whether you have depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD, BPD or EUPD, self harm, addictions, PTSD etc- I would love everyone to be more open if they feel able.
I hope my book explains what being in hospital can be like but that you can recover.
You can get your copy on Amazon and in all good book shops now 🙂
Happy bookversary to me! Thank you to YOU for supporting my blog, reading this and helping get my book deal. To everyone who has bought a copy and to my fab editors Stephanie and Katie.