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.
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
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.
As a new year approaches, many of us will attempt to reflect on the past and plan for the future. However, if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that all the planning in the world can’t always stand up to what gets thrown our way.
That’s why setting broad intentions — rather than specific goals, which can make us feel trapped — at the start of the year (or indeed any time of year!) can be so useful: these intentions make us more resilient to life’s unpredictable hurdles, helping us stay focused on the present.
If this is a new way of thinking, don’t worry; you don’t have to go it alone! Whether it’s talking to friends or listening to audiobooks and podcasts, there are plenty of places to seek out intention-based inspiration. In this post, you’ll find five self-help books to help you set your intentions as we transition into 2022.
1. No Such Thing as Normal by Bryony Gordon
If you’re tired of the overly commercialized “wellness” and “self-care” industries, No Such Thing as Normal will feel like a breath of fresh air. Bryony Gordon, founder of Mental Health Mates, offers practical advice on subjects ranging from daily anxiety to therapy and boundary-setting, with the aim of reassuring readers that they’re not so alone in their mental health struggles. If one of your intentions for the new year is to take charge of your mental health, Gordon’s book will give you a solid foundation upon which to build your confidence and feel more empowered.
2. Sensitive is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World by Anita Moorjani
Empaths experience overwhelming feelings that come with strongly sensing, and sometimes even absorbing, other people’s emotions. But in Sensitive is the New Strong, inspirational author Anita Moorjani argues that empathy can be harnessed as a powerful tool to help build stronger connections and live as your most authentic self. She includes personal anecdotes, meditation guidance, and self-care mantras to create an inspiring handbook for anyone looking to embrace their sensitivity and express their emotions more freely. Dive into this book to tap into your inner empath in 2022!
3. The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change without Losing Your Joy by Karen Walrond
Praised by Brené Brown for breaking activism down into small and intentional steps, The Lightmaker’s Manifesto is a hands-on guide for anyone who wants to enact meaningful change in the world. And who better to trust for advice than leadership coach, lawyer, and activist Karen Walrond? In this book, she lists practical journaling and mindfulness exercises that you can implement into your everyday life, plus advice from fellow activists and thought leaders to help you become a true “lightmaker”. The result will inspire you to find causes close to your heart and lead a life of not just integrity and advocacy, but genuine joy.
4. Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined by Scott Sonenshein
It’s also common to set professional goals in the new year — perhaps you’re gunning for a promotion, or maybe you want to get started on an ambitious new project. Whatever the aim, it’s important to have the right attitude to achieve it. In his groundbreaking self-help book Stretch, Scott Sonenshein debunks common myths around how to succeed in business and life. He explains that instead of striving for more and more assets, we should appreciate and stretch the resources we already have. If one of your intentions is to shift towards more of a growth mindset, then this is the book for you.
5. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
Ready to put an end to constant cycles of stress and burnout in 2022? Sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski have co-written Burnout to address the particularly severe ways that burnout affects women. The book covers scientific causes of stress, as well as holistic approaches and lifestyle changes to combat its effect on our everyday lives. Entering the new year with this wealth of knowledge will help you minimize the burden of societal expectations and leave you feeling empowered to tackle whatever the world throws your way — especially as a woman, but honestly as anyone determined to avoid future burnout.
Reading self-help books is, of course, only the beginning. But hopefully these books have given you a good starting point to go into the new year with strong, meaningful intentions! Good luck.
(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 don’t really know where to start! I have been keeping this secret for almost two years.
Nearly 2 years ago, my friends, mental health campaigner/author Jonny Benjamin MBE and author and editor Britt Pfluger, approached me to be a part of their second book entitled ‘The Book of Hope: 101 Voices on Overcoming Adversity‘ (published with Bluebird/ Pan Macmillan in April 2021!).
They asked me to write a piece on how I found hope and recovery after being unwell and my (ongoing) journey with bipolar disorder that I wrote about in my own book Bring me to Light.
I won’t give too much away about the piece I wrote, but it does include my Dad’s story too and talks about life after being sectioned for a manic episode in 2014. It talks about hope, healing, recovery and living with mental illness. It talks about being afraid of the future, but finding light in the darkness.
Heres what Macmillan say about the book which is available for pre order on Bluebird Pan Macmillan website and Amazon. It also contains anecodotes from famous faces including Lemn Sissay, Zoella (Zoe Sugg), Joe Wicks and Dame Kelly Holmes.
There is always hope, even when we cannot seem to seek it within ourselves.
”The Book of Hope is an anthology of 101 key voices in the field of mental health, who share not only their experiences with anxiety, psychosis, panic attacks and more, but also what helps them when they are feeling low. Compiled by award-winning activist Jonny Benjamin and author Britt Pflüger, the inspirational contributors in this book range from the likes of Lemn Sissay, Frank Turner and Zoe Sugg, to Elizabeth Day, Hussain Manawer and Joe Wicks; from authors, poets and musicians to charity workers, activists and psychiatrists.
Jonny Benjamin is known for his book and documentary film, The Stranger on the Bridge, which fought to end stigma around talking about mental health, suicidal thoughts and schizoaffective disorder. When his campaign to find the man who prevented him from taking his own life went viral, Jonny was one of a wave of new figures lifting the lid on mental health struggles. In this book, he brings together a range of voices to speak to the spectrum of our experiences of mental health and the power of speaking up and seeking help.”
It is a real honour and privilege to be a part of this project. A dream come true and I am so thankful to be able to share my story on this platform with truly important voices! We all have mental health and our voices deserve to be amplified.
The Book of Hope is available to pre order now and published in 2021.
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.
Out of Office: Ditch the 9-5 and Be Your Own Boss, by my friend and author Fiona Thomas is an incredible read! I have known Fiona for some time as our writing careers overlapped. We both became freelance journalists for publications including Metro.co.uk and Happiful magazine at the same time. We then got book deals around the same time with Trigger Publishing and released our first books within a year of one another. Fiona is one of the loveliest humans in the mental health writer world and so I eagerly anticipated reading her new book.
Ostensibly, the book is a guide to ditching the 9-5 traditional workplace and going freelance! This is something Fiona has great knowledge of, having left the 9-5 after a breakdown in her 20s and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It took her a year to recover from this and as she had previously worked as a Manager, she knew she couldn’t go back to the pressure cooker. You can read more about this in her first book Depression in a Digital Age.
Instead, like me, she found solace in blogging online about mental health, then writing and becoming a freelance writer for many publications. Now, she is not only an author but a writing coach, journalist and in demand speaker!
Freelancing is booming for people who want a more flexible lifestyle or have found themselves out of work too. All you need is a laptop, phone and internet connection!
(image: Fiona Thomas)
Now, to the book Out of Office. The book is full of Fiona’s trademark wit- I felt like she was talking directly to me as I read it. She has so much knowledge to impart on how to navigate the freelance world, avoid its pitfalls and make a successful career (and what to do when things can go pear shaped too!).
Whether you are just thinking about going freelance, just starting out or a few years down the line, this guide addresses all the questions you might have about working for yourself and making the most of life. Designed to help you attain and enjoy a self employed career, the book challenges the misconceptions around freelancing and offers the pros and cons of taking the plunge.
Fiona covers topics such as how to raise an invoice and submit a tax return, how to sell yourself, coping with imposter syndrome (aka I’m just not good enough to be here), as well as why working from home is proven to have a positive impact on productivity and mental health.
Fiona is a mental health advocate and always strives to help others on their journeys. I loved how engaging the book was, how I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter and learn more. As a freelance writer/blogger/author myself, I knew this book would help me too (especially with the finances) and it is sitting in pride of place on my book shelf as I devoured it. I will definitely re read and use Out of Office as a reference point in the future too.
This is a must read and you can get a copy here and in all good bookshops.
Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer who was born in Glasgow but now lives in Birmingham. She has been published in Metro, Reader’s Digest, Happiful Magazine and Grazia. Her passion is working with female-led businesses and shining a light on the positive impact that freelancing can have on our wellbeing. This is her second book. She blogs at fionalikestoblog.com