An ex-Observer journalist on her battle with depression, and the creation of a celebration of women with complicated lives

Not long after my 30th birthday – which I spent cry-dancing in a random club with baffled strangers – I went to my GP and was diagnosed with depression. In some ways it was a relief. The feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, unworthiness and loneliness with which I’d struggled since my teenage years finally had an explanation. It was caused by dodgy brain chemistry, serotonin deficiencies. Even better, there was a treatment and it was simple and easy to swallow.

For the next five years I took Prozac for depression and propranolol for anxiety. They helped. Work was also a crutch. After a brief and improbable career as a teacher in a private school, where the pupils were as self-confident as I was self-conscious, I quit for the glamour of journalism – well, the Oban Times. I then, via the Glasgow Herald, joined the Observer, technically as Scotland editor, though a more accurate description could have been the panicker in the north.

I began to see that I was a hopeless communicator in relationships, especially with emotions such as anger, shame, envy


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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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26 March 2019