Friday, 18 September 2009

Begging a Favour

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

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 :-)


  1. Wow, this was amazing to read. Both my best friend/cousin and my daughter live with bipolar disorder. Both rely on outside sources for income (SSI, family). I hope you'll keep us updated here.

  2. Hi Deb,

    Thank you - one of the things the Internet is so good at doing is helping us to realise that there are people who go through the same things we do. For those of us who live in small communities (and many people who don't), we can feel very alone, and comparing ourselves to those around us can make the problems seem so much worse. It's totally irrational, but knowing there are others out there can help us to get through some of the worst bits.

    I certainly will keep this updated. I'm guessing many of the details of the services and advice lines and so on available will differ between the UK and the US, but the basic problems are the same wherever you are having to cope with them. I'll send a link once the article is out in teh online version of the journal (I won't be able to post on my blog for copyright reasons, but I'd be happy to e-mail you a copy privately before it comes out).

    I did some workwith Mind producing a "troubleshooter" on debt and mental health that may be helpful. It's essentially a poster to hang on the back of the door with a checklist of things to do on a weekly basis to help people avoid getting into worse problems with debt. It should be available from the Mind website if not now then in the very near future.