Time to Talk Day 2023

#TimeToTalkDay is a day of conversations about mental health. It’s a day to check in with others, share experiences, and most of all, to challenge stigma around mental illness. Even though the Time to Change campaign is no more, the day is still marked by Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Co-op, and of course, those Champions from the original campaign, albeit under different banners.

I joined the campaign in 2017. I was a very different person back then, and in a very different place mentally. Still unwell, on antidepressants and in therapy, very unsure of myself, and fairly new to being open about my mental health issues, I wasn’t strong enough to campaign fully yet, so I started small. I wrote an email to my friends and colleagues at work, some of whom knew about my issues, some who didn’t. Here’s what I wrote:

Hi all,

Today is Time to Talk Day. Many of you already know this is a cause that means a lot to me. It’s a few years now since I made the decision to be open about my mental health issues, and I have never regretted it, not once. When I was first diagnosed with depression, age 21 and on the verge of failing my final year at university, I didn’t even tell my parents. Finally, thanks to campaigns like Time to Talk and Mind’s 1 in 4, the stigma is disappearing, and the isolation I used to feel is firmly in the past.

We all have some knowledge of mental health issues, it’s part of our daily job, so I won’t bore you with the details of the exhaustion, shame, and frustration my conditions cause me. Instead I want to use today to say thank you.

Thank you for not judging. Thank you for noticing when I’m having a bad day and checking I’m OK. Thank you for sharing stories of people with similar issues so I know I’m not alone. Thank you for seeing me as me, not as a mental illness. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for helping me feel “normal” (whatever that is). It makes a massive difference and it’s what today is all about.

Kind regards,


I agonised over that email, and was terrified to press send. But of course, my colleagues’ and friends’ response was as kind as ever. It gave me the courage to keep speaking out, having those conversations, and challenging stigma. To join my local hub, where I found more friends with inspiring stories. And then eventually, to start this blog and social media accounts dedicated to those very same things.

You see, Time to Talk Day, and conversations about mental health, can make a massive difference. They can give strength, courage, and support. They can change people’s minds and beliefs. They can create a ripple that spreads out and touches more hearts and minds than you ever thought possible.

This Time to Talk Day, I hope you find the courage to be open, speak out, or just ask a loved one how they are. And if you’re not sure what to say or do, you won’t go wrong by starting with those things I was grateful for back in 2017, because those were things that helped give me the strength to recover, and keep fighting to stay in recovery: friendship, understanding, and love.

Thank you for not judging. Thank you for noticing when I’m having a bad day and checking I’m OK. Thank you for sharing stories of people with similar issues so I know I’m not alone. Thank you for seeing me as me, not as a mental illness. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for helping me feel “normal” (whatever that is). It makes a massive difference and it’s what today is all about.

If you’d like know more, click here: https://timetotalkday.co.uk/

The Day the Music Died

TW: eating disorder feelings and behaviours.

I met him one drunken night in my favourite bar.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He was there to play a short acoustic set and afterwards, we got chatting. About music, life, the usual drunken things. I gave him my number and a few days later, he called and asked me out.

Not long after (maybe not long enough after), we moved in together. It was all going so well. Until it started to go wrong.

My grandfather passed away. He had been my safe person, the man I looked up to the most. And then I fell out with my father. In a matter of months, I had lost both of the male influences in my life.

Of course I didn’t process the loss. I tried to bury it instead. With alcohol, cigarettes, and of course, food. I wasn’t even aware I was doing it. Looking back, I’m not even sure if I’d got over my first bout of depression, or if I was in my second, whether it was grief, or the binge eating disorder taking over. I know I didn’t talk to him about it.

I gained weight, and became more reclusive. I made excuses not to go with him to his gigs, for nights out with friends, to visit his family, because that was my only chance to binge in secret. I was closed off, secretive, and sometimes resented his presence because it meant I couldn’t binge.

Of course this is a simplification of a complex relationship. But it was never going to work. I was living a lie, terrified he would find out who I really was and stop loving me.

Then one day he told me me had feelings for someone else. That she reminded him of me when we first met. And for the first time since I was a small child, the emotions came flooding out. I cried, I punched him, and I threw him out, unable to deal with what was happening.

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on Pexels.com

And when he left, music left, too. In a way, literally, because he took my favourite albums, but also because I couldn’t bear to listen. I didn’t want to hear any of his songs, nor any songs that reminded me of him, of our failed relationship, of how angry and sad I was. The feelings were too raw. I buried them the only way I knew how: my eating disorder morphed into bulimia, I was chain smoking, and I started going out drinking again.

Later, I met someone else. Someone who wasn’t into music. And I forgot the part of me that loved it, this backdrop to my earlier life. I forgot the small child who loved to dance and sang in school plays in that time before she hated herself too much to intentionally attract attention. I forgot the teenager who chose her university based on its music scene. And so, even in my single years since, I’ve never returned to music.

Then a couple of days ago, I heard one of my favourite songs from the time I was married. From an album he had taken with him, that I haven’t heard in the decades since. And in that strange way music does, it triggered the gut-wrenching grief I couldn’t face at the time.

These feelings are some of the hardest I’ve had to face through recovery. They are physically painful. They are suffocating, all-consuming. I’m finally starting to understand why it’s called heartbreak. The pain in my chest, the heaviness in my stomach that won’t stop…

For the first time in a very long time, I am battling the urge to make myself sick.

Photo by Bob Clark on Pexels.com

And I am beginning to realise that maybe I was remembering it wrong. Maybe it wasn’t the dieting that led to the bulimia back then. It was the grief, the sadness, and the pain. The restricting and the purging were my physical responses to the emotional pain I was in. I was trying to lift the deadweight in my chest, literally force it out so I didn’t have to feel like that anymore.

I buried the pain so deep I didn’t remember what it felt like. I buried it so deep it took two whole decades and years of work towards recovery to resurface.

And now there is no way out but through. But I have to believe that this pain means I am finally close to full recovery. I am trying to accept it, lean into it, and learn the lessons it is teaching me, even though it is so very hard to do.

It’s time to let go.

Battling the Black Dog

It’s back. It’s barking and growling and scratching at the door, trying to get in, and I’m trying so hard not to let it.

But it’s exhausting. I’m so tired, constantly wanting to sleep. Yet some nights I lie awake. Not thinking or fretting or stressing, really. I just lie there with my eyes closed, waiting for sleep to come.

There’s no inspiration. Just a couple of weeks ago I was posting, writing, creating. Now I’m silent, unmotivated. I have nothing to say. No positive stories to share.

The tears. Not a day has gone by without tears for a week now. They flow silently, without fanfare, as I sit here, waiting for the feeling to pass.

They say Churchill called it the black dog. Sometimes that’s how it feels. A big black dog following me around like a shadow. But sometimes, like now, it’s an all-consuming fog that blocks out the light, turning everything a deep, dull grey. It makes everything quiet, eerie, it blurs sharp lines. It invades my brain and leaves that foggy, too. Unable to see clearly, focus, see the sun hiding above the clouds.

Deep down, a part of me knows that hope and joy are out there, but no matter how hard I look, how far I reach out, I can’t find it. The fog is hiding it from view, hoping I forget about it, waiting for me to sink further into myself instead.

I don’t want to give the fog what it wants. I don’t want to let the black dog in.

I’m arming myself.

I’ve upped the nutrition-rich foods. So what if I ordered them online and bought some of them pre-prepared? It’s all I can manage right now, and nutrition is nutrition. There’s no point forcing myself to the farm shop to buy soup ingredients, then letting them rot because I don’t have the energy or motivation to chop and cook them.

I’m taking my painkillers because no-one should have to deal with the double whammy of pain and fog. And the lower pain means I can do a bit of exercise each day to boost my mood.

I’ve reached out and called a friend.

I’m watching comedies to reassure myself I can still laugh.

And I’m writing this, getting it out, reducing its power.

And still the fog descends, smothering me in its cloak of darkness.

And still I fight on.

I’ve been here before and won. I will prevail.


I’ve been absent from social media for a little while. This post explains why.

Basically, my real, offline, life has has been taking all I have to give lately.

Today has been a pretty good day. I’ve started a week of annual leave, met up with a friend, and accomplished a couple of tasks I haven’t felt up to recently. I have newly prescribed painkillers in the cupboard for high pain days and most importantly, time to rest.

But I promised myself that I would always be honest on this blog, so here’s what I wrote at 2 am this morning in an attempt to quieten the thoughts in my head and sleep…

I’m tired.

Tired of trying to fix things in a system that’s broken beyond repair.

Tired of people asking for my help and having nothing to offer but a sympathetic ear.

Tired of people being failed, written off, thrown away because they don’t fit into a neat little box.

Tired of forcing myself not to care as a self-preservation mechanism.

Tired of sleepless nights because I do care. A lot.

Tired of being expected to go that extra mile by people who would never do the same for me.

Tired of constantly enforcing boundaries because they’re not respected.

Tired of being in pain.

Tired of working slouched on the sofa because sitting upright hurts too much.

Tired of not being able to take sick leave to rest and recover because if I do, I’ll be put on report.

Tired of being stuck at home, still in lockdown even though it’s over.

Tired of waiting, for appointments, treatments, diagnoses, help that never comes.

Tired of being too tired to cook the dinner I actually want to eat.

Tired that exercising for my mental health makes me hurt more.

Tired of being tired.

Tired of having no energy for the things that bring me joy: creating, social media, campaigning, seeing friends.

Let’s face it: I’m way beyond tired. I’m exhausted. I’m burnt out.

Sunshine through the rain

I’ve been crying a lot lately. So much that I even caught myself crying on camera. But the shocking thing to me is not that I cried. It’s that I allowed the camera to keep rolling, then posted it online. I pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone that I showed my vulnerability, my emotions, to any stranger who cared to watch.

You see, there was a time when I went years without shedding a single tear. Throughout my teens until I was 21, I became extremely successful at blocking my emotions through bingeing, with a side of alcohol. So successful at burying all my pain that I ended up with my first episode of depression in my final year of university.

Even then, when I had learned that crying was a necessary evil, it was done in private and as little as possible. It was something I struggled to do, something I continued to avoid, something I swallowed down. Because crying was a weakness, a vulnerability. If I showed I was weak, that gave others power. And that was something I could never allow.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed how often I’ve laughed. Over the tiniest things: social media posts, puns, something a friend said, even physical comedy, which I never found funny before. I’ve noticed how I have felt happiness, joy, as easily as sadness, anger, and pain.

Then I realised. In blocking out my sadness, negative emotions, and vulnerability, I’ve also blocked out happiness, positive emotions, and sensitivity. I didn’t allow myself to be sad, but doing that meant that I didn’t allow myself to be happy either. By not crying, I missed out on laughter.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been times when dulling those negative emotions has been necessary to keep me alive. I’m not ashamed of taking antidepressants when I had suicidal thoughts. They helped me stay alive, they helped me through the pain of therapy and early stages of recovery from BED. There are times when feeling those negative emotions is a very bad idea.

But at some point in recovery from BED it’s important to learn to accept and live with emotions. And I wanted to share that when that happened for me, it gave me the freedom to enjoy those good emotions, too. Bright lights of joy shining on tears of sadness: a wonderful, miraculous emotional rainbow. I’m hoping for a pot of contentment at its end…

My Lowest Point

Trigger Warning: suicidal thoughts

There’s something happening at the moment which is bringing back painful memories. Triggering me, if you will. And as always when I’m struggling, I’m hoping writing it down will help. I’m aware it might not be helpful to some readers: if that might be you, please click away from this post now.

Around a decade ago, my life as I knew it ended. It started with workplace bullying, which led to a decline in my mental health. I developed debilitating anxiety, was prescribed propranolol after a particularly distressing anxiety attack which lasted for two days straight, and had counselling.

The issues continued, then my workplace was restructured and I was told I was facing redundancy. My mood declined. I would go to bed at night hoping that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. Those thoughts gradually became more intrusive. I was barely able to function, and recognised that this was the worst depressive episode I had ever had. I went back to my GP and asked for antidepressants.

Two weeks after I started the antidepressants, my partner of ten years told me he no longer loved me and I needed to move out. I couldn’t even cry. I was still getting used to the medication, and I listened with dry eyes, not knowing what or how to feel about the fact that my world was falling apart. I was mentally ill, and in one fell swoop, I was losing my job, my partner and my home.

I went to bed that night and made a plan to end my life the next morning.

To this day, I don’t know what stopped me from carrying out that plan, but I am so grateful I didn’t. Even though I’m struggling right now.

That job I lost was so stressful it literally made me ill. My relationship wasn’t making me happy and hadn’t done for years. I wouldn’t have been able to recover with those things still in my life.

So I moved in with my parents because I had nowhere else to go, and let them take care of me while I couldn’t look after myself. I had more counselling, and did a little freelance work while I looked for a full-time job.

I built a new life somewhere new. I got treatment for my ED, weaned off the antidepressants, quit smoking, made friends. I’m even finally starting to think I might be ready for a new relationship.

The last few months have been tough, but this is a reminder to myself that I have survived worse and come back stronger. I will be just fine, I just need a little time to recover and figure out my next move.

If you are struggling, too, please speak to your GP. I have.