How can I get better?
You can get better, but there isn’t a magic cure. It takes work and effort – but boy oh boy is it worth it! Like any long-term illness you need to constantly look after yourself – you will have good days and bad days. I wish people could be more practical with mental illness, just as you would if you had a physical illness, and really think ‘what are the things I can do to make myself better?’ Yes, you can take anti-depressants and have therapy (and I do both!) but there are other things you can do to look after yourself, like exercise, being kind to yourself, talking to family, friends and others who are going through similar things. People never ask me ‘How can I get better?’ and I think we should not be afraid to ask ourselves this question.
Do I have regrets?
People never ask me this question, as I think they believe it’s negative and they don’t want to drag me down. We often say ‘don’t have regrets, it’s a waste of time’ but I think it’s important to think about the things you want to do more in your life and those you want to do less, and that’s a very positive thing. I have loads of regrets – taking shed loads of drugs, hurting people with thoughtlessness – but instead of beating myself up about them I try and work out how I’m not going to do them again!
Do you think you’ll ever reach a point in your life where you will be cured?
The simple answer is no. I don’t think there is a cure, and that’s something I have come to terms with. OCD is very treatable. I think that looking for a magic cure isn’t helpful. Instead, I like to think ‘well, there may be times when I get ill again, and when that happens, I’ll reach into my tool kit and do what I can to get well again’. It’s not the end of the world.
Will reading MAD GIRL be a trigger for my own mental health issues?
Life is a trigger! I’m a firm believer in confronting the things you’d rather ignore; in doing the thing you cannot do.
Are there any downsides to living your illness in the public eye?
The main thing I would say is that because you have written about your illness publicly and honestly, many people think you’re sorted and that you have come to the end of it all. But all books have to have a narrative – they need a beginning, a middle and an end – and I still screw up. There are times when I feel really bleak. When this book went into the bestsellers charts, people were saying ‘well done! Life is so great!’ but pathetically I was having an OCD meltdown at the time and I just wanted to cry. We all have our moments, right? I’m just glad I’m now in a position to be able to share them with people, and have people share them with me.