I went into journalism wanting to be Laura Barton. I loved her writing in the Guardian, I still do. At university in Durham, my friends and I would always turn to her stuff first. On Mondays, we’d sit in Riverside Cafe and pore over the (then massive – oh how things change!) jobs section in Media Guardian and plot our move from the north of England to Fleet Street.
My reason for wanting to be a journalist was that I wanted to entertain people. I had a lovely vision of having a column somewhere, which luckily didn’t happen, because when I was in my early 20s I used even more adjectives than I do now. The one thing I didn’t particularly want to do was to use my life as the basis for features. Again, how things change.
In the last few years, I have been incredibly lucky to be able to cover stories that really matter to me. Sometimes, I’ve used my own experiences. In the cases of a new cancer day unit at Guy’s Hospital (I cannot wait to hear what their cancer centre is like – it sounds amazing), and speaking out about mental illness, I don’t mind at all.
When you speak about an aspect of your health, particularly one with such unsexy connotations attached to it as mental health has, you end up being called ‘brave’. This is a lovely thing to have people think, but it is complete nonsense. In speaking out about depression, and my experiences of it, I am being entirely selfish. I just want people to know more about it, and hopefully, to be able to reach people who might feel incredibly isolated.
I recently wrote a piece for Grazia about my experiences of depression, and I attach a copy here for you to read – sorry about the scanning, that’s never been my forté.
Hope you enjoy it, but most importantly, I hope it makes you think about mental health problems in a new light. Everyone will be affected by them at some point, whether individually, or through a friend or loved one. Let’s break the stigma.
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