Huge thanks to Ruby Wax for such a great Q&A session on Twitter yesterday. So honest, informative and well put. My question was number 8.
PS So great that Sane New World is still floating near the top of the charts. That book is my bible.
1. Just finished your book! Much better than other ones on same topic I've read. Any other books from you coming our way?
As soon as my behind recovers from sitting down for 2 years and losing the use of my legs while writing this book, I’ll start on the next. Thank you for saying you like my book better than similar ones. I am not in the lofty realms of those scientists who are brilliant but you can’t understand a word they’re writing. I have just enough I.Q. points to translate complex stuff into ‘common person speak’. Also I got D’s in High School, if that’s not proof of neuroplasticity, nothing is. P.S I wrote a book 10 years ago called “How Do You Want Me?” It was edited by Carrie Fisher and I thought it was going to rocket my career as a writer into the ozone. I was usurped by Jordan (remember her?) who was big at the time. She sold millions I sold 3. It took many years to recover.
2. What one thing would you recommend employers do to support illMH?
Give rewards like a free holiday or cash to those who ‘come out’ and admit they have mental illness. When they get better make sure everyone in the office celebrates and throws them a ‘got well’ party. If you make them feel you care they’ll probably work a hundred times harder than anyone else when they’ve recovered. If you give, you always get back. You don’t want to lose people who have mental illness sometimes they’re the smartest on the team.
3. What advice would you give to ppl who have a friend or family member with mental health issues?
Someone told me that he was worried about a friend in his office he thought had problems and decided to send an email saying he was there if his friend wanted help. I thought that was a great idea because sadly many people feel shame about their condition, not to mention a fear of losing their jobs or be ostracized. With an email they can choose to take you up on the offer or ignore it. If it’s a family member don’t try to make them feel better or cheer them up, they feel like crap, trying to perk them up only makes them feel worse that they can’t feel better. If they say they want help, get them help, if they don’t, there’s nothing you can do but love them unconditionally.
4. Would you consider having brain surgery ie. a partial lobotomy if it meant not having to take meds for the rest of your life?
You seem to think something is wrong with taking meds? Everyday I say a little prayer of gratitude that they exist. Ok, they may have side effects but there are over 2,000 varieties so don’t give up. Taking meds, I feel like this is how I would be if I didn’t have mental illness, rather than the block of cement I turn into when depression kicks in. With a lobotomy what makes you human gets wiped out, you’re now the walking dead. How can you even compare these two? It’s like saying would you rather have cancer or take a hike?
5. How did u keep it hidden from the public for so long?
Luckily I only got really mentally whacked every few years so I would claim a broken limb or a gall bladder problem and get away with it by taking a leave of absence. No one every found out. You can always say you have some other disease (all other diseases are forgiven but the big ‘MI’). I once had to interview someone with depression for a show and I was in an institution and didn’t want anyone to know. My husband picked me up, drove me to the studio where I did the interview (I was sicker than he was) and then I was driven back to the institution. The inmates said I was crazy to have done that and I took that as high praise as they are the experts.
6. It seems many tweeters can not get access to mindfulness (i have) do you think the stigma & NHS are trailing & what should they do?
Just google mindfulness, there’s 8-week training courses everywhere. Also mindfulness isn’t simply for depression it covers people who feel stressed or want to experience some kind of calm/peace/happiness whatever you want to call it, there’s no stigma in that. Mindfulness is growing within the NHS because when all the money has dried up for therapy and there are no more beds left in mental institutions, mindfulness will be the only thing we’ve got because you learn to self-regulate your mind. It’s training you do on your own like any physical training and the more you do the stronger and more resilient your brain gets.
7. What's the best thing you have discovered to get through a 'black day'?
Find someone who also has depression; they speak your language and will never tire of your negativity or obsession with what drugs you’re taking; its such a relief to be able to complain non-stop. It’s much easier and more delightful to be with someone who doesn’t answer “Fine,” when you ask them how they are.
8. What more can we do to help you get recognised nationally for all your amazing hard work?
You could write to the Queen and tell her to knight me