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)