It sounds rather dramatic, but writing The Focus Program really did save me.
I’m not going to get too doom and gloom about it. I’ll just get to the point. It was 2015 and I started suffering with depression. I’d never had suicidal thoughts before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I’ve had anxiety for 27 years, so I’ve been dealing with mental illness for a long time, but depression felt weird to me. It was so quiet. The complete opposite to anxiety. I started to reach a point where, without trying to sound like Simon & Garfunkel, it was all a bit ‘hello darkness, my old friend.’
From out of nowhere, I started to write a book. I wrote whenever I felt the darkness creep over me. The book seemed to take on a life all by itself.
There’s positivity in the book, but it was a struggle to tap into that light while everything was so dark. I’ve always been quite spiritual, so maybe that helped.
By 2016 I had finished the book, and I realised that I no longer felt suicidal, which was a relief because, let’s face it, no one wants to die if they can help it.
I feel a strange disconnection towards the book, and I never know how to pitch it to people because of the mixture of storytelling and self-help. I don’t feel like I wrote the book. I feel like the depression did, or maybe it was the part of my soul that was trying to save me. Took me a little while to decide to share it with the world, or rather, it took my anxiety a little while to come to terms with people reading into my soul.
I struggle with talking about mental illness. As you can see, I am working on that. I feel that, as a mental illness fighter, I should be doing my part to help break down the walls and tackle the stigma. So, that’s exactly what I’m going to do from now on.
If we don’t talk about our mental health problems, how can we expect anyone to understand them?