Women's Health (UK) - - STRENGTH IN NUMBERS -

37, JOUR­NAL­IST ‘Run­ning 26 miles wasn’t as dif­fi­cult as get­ting out of bed’

‘Some peo­ple de­scribe them­selves as “a bit OCD”. I won’t have it. You either have OCD or you don’t. I have a type known as Pure O. This means that, rather than out­ward man­i­fes­ta­tions, my brain is vul­ner­a­ble to dis­tress­ing thoughts like: ‘I’ve left the oven on and am go­ing to burn my house down.’ I’ve had ma­nia and de­pres­sive episodes and gen­uinely be­lieved that I was a se­rial killer – but I’ve never had the metic­u­lously or­dered sock drawer peo­ple al­ways talk about.

I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced symp­toms since I was 12 and was di­ag­nosed at 17. But in­stead of deal­ing with it, my men­tal ill­ness be­came a mag­net for un­healthy cop­ing mech­a­nisms – bu­limia, booze, co­caine, un­suit­able men.

In Jan­uary 2015, I was strug­gling with de­pres­sion after the birth of my daugh­ter. Fed up with keep­ing quiet, I wrote about my men­tal health in my

Daily Tele­graph col­umn. Lots of read­ers got in touch to say they hoped mine would be the last gen­er­a­tion to suf­fer in si­lence. A 78-year-old said I was the first person she had ever opened up to. In­spired, I launched the sup­port group #men­tal­health­mates and even ran a marathon. Cross­ing the fin­ish line felt like a priv­i­lege; as did in­ter­view­ing Prince Harry about hav­ing coun­selling after his mother’s death. Talk­ing about men­tal health is the only way for­ward.’ Mad Girl: A Happy Life With A Mixed-up Mind by Bry­ony Gor­don (£6.49, Head­line)

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