Talisman When the days shortenAnd morning and evening seem almost to kissWhen the darkness surroundsI chase the gold as it slips behind the horizon.Hoping it might remain for a moment longer.But it is gone. I look down.In my hand I am clutching three emberssalvaged from the spent flames of a nearby tree.A quiver of gilded crimson.I didn't realise I would need them nowAs the day departs and the darkness resumes its watch.I hold tight to my treasureA promise of tomorrow,of another year.This poem met me on my walk this evening.As I rounded the corner I saw the sky above the rooftops, intense orange. By the time...

It was seven years from my first panic attack to a diagnosis of anxiety. Seven years without any help. Seven years of thinking I needed to get a grip. Seven years of beating myself up for not being able to stay in control.Before my diagnosis I didn't think I was ill and I didn't think I suffered with anxiety. What even was that?I thought I was a freak. And weak.A weak freak.I didn't know anyone who had struggled with their mental health (or maybe truer to say, I didn't know anyone who had ever talked about it). I had no...

1. It started on Monday night. I received a text informing me that the flight I was to take first thing Tuesday morning from Manchester to Heathrow, to connect to my flight from Heathrow to Charlotte, had been cancelled.2. After spending sometime on the phone to BA last night my flights were re-booked with American Airlines. Unfortunately when I arrived at Manchester Airport (possibly the busiest airport full of the most grumpy people early in the morning), after waiting for an hour in a queue, I was told that despite the phone call and the print offs I had in...

This is for you if you are in despair.I know how you feel.I have been you; terrified to leave the house, feeling I had no control over my own body.I have felt my brain was alien and unpredictable and I could no longer rely on it to tell me the truth.I know what it is like to wake in the night and be consumed with fear, able to hear my blood pumping around my body, the sound loud in my ears.I have wanted to hide, and felt shame. I have not known who I was or how to go on....

A few years back I noticed a book lying around. It was by a Christian speaker, one of those women who talk in authoritative statements, wearing power suits in bold colours.I never read the book, but I remember it's title, which shaped itself as a command.It was called 'Don't Dread'*.Oh, if only it was that easy.I was raised on stories of overcomers. I was told testimonies of people who through their faith had seen the breakthrough. I heard these stories in church on a Sunday, and round the dinner table. All the testimonies seemed to me to have a happy...

My therapist tells me that she believes it probably won't be long until there is a test, a blood test or something, that will tell what is chemically happening in your brain. To ascertain that something isn't right, some chemical or hormone isn't being released correctly or in the right amount (forgive me - I am no scientist).This would distinguish between mental illnesses that requires chemical intervention and those mental illnesses that can be alleviated by environmental changes and talking therapies, without the need for the pills.And although we shouldn't have to prove it, we shouldn't need that validation, it...

"Depression for me, wasn't a dulling, but a sharpening, an intensifying, as though I had been living my life in a shell and now the shell wasn't there. It was total exposure… What I didn't realise at the time, what would have seemed incomprehensible to me, was that this state of mind would end up having positive effects as well as negative effects"*When I was first diagnosed with post-natal depression towards the end of 2009 I had no idea of what was to come. But a door had been pushed ajar. A portal to another place, or perhaps, a portal...

You know the saying 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade'?Well sometimes when I see that written or hear it said, it makes me really mad. Because sometimes the lemons are being thrown at my head, or it's cold and I really want a hot drink. Sometimes the sour taste is hard and unwelcome and I don't have the energy or wherewithal to go and be a domestic goddess.We are experts in minimising pain. We love to push past it, to move on quickly. We think if we linger and look for too long, then we're being self-indulgent, we're picking...

I wrote this week about comparison. I realised the idea of competition got a bit of a bad rap in this post. I felt the need to redress the balance.Not everything about competition is bad.Competition can provoke work that improves standards. It can be the impulse leading to scientific breakthroughs, or to sporting achievements. As iron sharpens iron, so those working in a similar field can spur each other on, to better their ideas, their communication, their achievements. And this can be good for everyone.The London 2012 Olympic Games showed us how a display of sporting brilliance can influence a...

Today I am feeling a little anxious, a little stomach swirly.I need to talk some truth to myself.So I am going to start with this, something I wrote a long time ago at the end of a very anxious day: Just because the day starts one way it doesn't mean it will end the same way. Lots of days are redeemable. Truth.Then, I am going to book the train tickets to visit my friend in London next month, even though right now that feels like something that will be 'too much', something I will not want to do. I will...