Not something I'm altogether happy doing, but that never stopped me before.
Let me begin with the favour. In the words of those slightly seedy classifieds:
Do you have a mental health difficulty? Have you experienced problems with debt? Would you be prepared to answer some questions for an article on debt and mental health? (Anonymously is fine). If so, please either comment here or e-mail email@example.com
OK, let me rewind.
4 years ago, I began a blog called Mad Marrieds' Journey Into Debt, about the year my wife and I, courtesy of a decided "up" phase in the bipolar cycle, ended up in 23 countries and a lot of debt in one year (or my wifer ended in debt - I was already too indebted to be allowed a credit card!!).
A nice young man at the Royal College of Psychiatrists was, at the time, working on debt and mental health, googled debt and depression, and found my blog.
In the four year since, I've worked with Chris on 2 major projects, In The Red, a study on debt and mental health by Mind; Final Demand, which resulted in a leaflet distributed to 140,000 people (the largest readership I'll EVER get) in the social care profession about debta nd mental health; I've spoken in parliament to the All Party Parliamentary Group on mental health; and I've helped Mind produce a guide on debt and mental health.
Last summer, my wife and I were in Camden when we saw ni the local rag an article about a magazine called One in Four, run by a cool looking dude called Mark Brown. It was pitched as a lifestyle magazine for and by people with mental health difficulties. I cut the article out, and "filed" it. A month or so back, I took it out and sent Mark an e-mail, wondering if they'd like to rnu a story on a bipolar writer who'd just launched a collective.
We spent one of the most enjoyable hours I can remember drinking coffee together in a garage in Walthamstow, and I came away with my first ever proper commission, to write a piece about debt and mental health for their magazine. The piece will focus on case studies of people who've experienced debt and mental health difficulties, with a view both to connecting with people, but also to giving practical advice to help people with both aspects of what's often a vicious cycle.
Anyone who is ableto spend a few minutes of their time to sghare their experiences and/or advice, I would love to hear from you. I'm happy to write about my own experiences, such as the time I genuinely believed I couldn't get through a theology degree with just 20 Bibles and HAD to get yet another, or the time I couldn't open a letter, had the phone unplugged, sat on the sofa and cried solidly for 6 months waiting for someone to show up for their money with a baseball bat. But I'd ratehr write about someone other than me for a change.
And a little advance warning. October 10th is World Mental Health Day. As well as being a great time for raising awareness (if you have a blog, why not write something), you may, if you live in the UK and watch the news any time a few days either side, find yourselves in the unenviable position of being confronted with my ugly mug :-)