Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Mental health & writing by Gail Marie Mitchell - Blog Tour

I am delighted to welcome Gail Marie Mitchell to my blog today to talk about mental health & writing for her blog tour. Gail's book Loving the Life Less Lived is published in e-book by RedDoor Publishing on 26 January 2017. 

Mental health & writing
By Gail Marie Mitchell

I never intended to write about my mental health… I’ve always written fiction and poetry. I’ve tried my hand at novels without much success. The idea (and the name) for Loving the Life Less Lived came in an epiphany moment one evening when I was lying in bed feeling depressed and anxious after having left yet another job due to my anxiety and panic attacks. I describe this in more detail in the prologue but, in short, I saw an old school friend tweet a video where she was talking to a global summit in New York about everyone’s unique skill set. I felt completely inadequate. All I was good at, I reasoned, was getting anxious and running away. Something in my subconscious added ‘writing’ to my list of skills and the idea to write about experiences was born.

I hope my readers will …. feel that they are listening to a friend when they read Loving the Life Less Lived. I’m not an expert and I don’t like telling people what they should do but I have been on this road for many years and I hope that by sharing what has happened to me, it will help people not to feel so isolated and alone. It will also give them a brief insight into the tools that have taken me all my adult life to gather. I see it as starting a conversation about mental health rather than providing all the answers.

I completely changed the ending after it was written…having completed the book with a huge sigh of relief a significant event happened in my life (I don’t want to spoil the end by revealing it) so a few months later I went back and re-wrote the final chapter. I think this gives a more real and definitely more heartfelt ending.

I want to give the message that….It's ok not to be ok. In fact quite often it’s great not to be ok. I spent many years swinging on a pendulum between crippling anxiety/depression on the one hand and telling myself that I was completely cured on the other. Each new ‘breakdown’ (for want of a better word) hit me harder than the one before and I punished myself mentally for being so weak and stupid. Nowadays I just accept that my anxiety is part of me and that sometimes I do get depressed. I still have episodes of mental ill health but, by accepting them as part of who I am, I don’t dip so low and recover much quicker.

My aim is for my readers to feel encouraged and empowered about who they are and to use the tools available to them to be the best that they can be. At the same time I really want people to be kind to themselves when they are experiencing bouts of anxiety or depression. I want other people to be kind to them too which brings me on to the fact that…

People are starting to talk about mental health, but there are many who just won’t listen… if only I could get those people to read my book! It’s great that more and more people are being open about their mental health issues but that’s only half of the battle. 1 in 4 people in the UK at any one time is being treated for mental ill-health but time and time again I still come up against people who don’t see it as a real or genuine illness, especially in the work place. For all my stories of facing stigma there are a million more experiences out there. When I’m well I can advocate for myself quite vociferously, but when I’m ill I just run away.

People who experience anxiety and depression are not weak… it takes tremendous strength sometimes even to get out of bed. Opening a letter or answering the phone may seem like simple tasks but to some people it involves climbing an emotional Everest every single day. As James Joyce once said ‘“Your battles inspired me - not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead.”

I love who I am and where I am and it’s all thanks to my mental health… it’s been a rocky road that has led me to what I call the Life Less Lived but I am immeasurably grateful for it. Apart from the fact that I am stronger and have more empathy I have also met amazing people who I wouldn’t have given the time of day before I was ill. I now have a life that I love and I am so glad that I made it through the ‘I can’t take any more’ days to get

About Gail Marie Mitchell 

Gail Marie Mitchell has tried her hand at many things over the years from studying chemistry at the University of York to teaching in the favelas of Brazil. She now works in the exciting world of accountancy, supporting small charities in the East Midlands area. She lives in a country idyll with her husband and spends her time working, writing and trying to make sense of this crazy, confused and broken world we live in. She has lived for much of her life with anxiety and depression, conditions she has slowly learnt to accept and celebrate and which have led her to write Loving the Life Less Lived.

Follow Gail on Twitter - @GailMitchell42 

About Loving the Life Less Lived

Loving the Life Less Lived
By Gail Marie Mitchell
Published by RedDoor publishing in e-book on 26 January 2017

Publisher' description
An essential companion for anyone dealing with mental illness.

Like many people, Gail Marie Mitchell battled with anxiety and depression for many years, finding it exhausting, stressful and demoralising at times. Realising that this approach to her condition was futile, Gail chose a different approach – acceptance.

Taking control in this way removed some of the pressure and enabled Gail to focus on developing coping strategies, creating the tips and tools that are included in this empathetic and practical book.
Gail focuses on the positive aspects of her condition, showing how a person living with mental illness is so much more than the label that society puts on them. She found acceptance empowering, enabling her to live her life to the full. Perhaps not the life she had planned, but one that is happy and fulfilling and that she loves. She is Loving the Life Less Lived.

By sharing her experiences and describing what she learnt from them as well as the resulting coping strategies, Gail has created an essential companion for anyone dealing with mental illness – and their family and friends.

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