Shining a light on mental health
Posted by RosNash
10th Jun 2015

ďI was in a pretty bad way when I was admitted into hospital. In fact, Iíd been unable to dress
myself that morning. I was extremely confused; I wasnít even sure whether I was in Glasgow or
not. Later that day I was sectioned under the mental health act and diagnosed with
stress-induced psychosis. No matter how many times this was explained to me, I found it
difficult to remember what was happening. I kept thinking the hospital I was in wasnít real, that
the doctors and nurses were just actors who were all in on a big joke. I was convinced any
minute someone would jump out from behind a curtain and say, ĎHa! We really got you this

I was a magazine editor at the time and during the week before I went into hospital, Iíd been
working really hard. I had barely slept. I remember thinking, if I can just make it to Christmas, Iíll
be OK. But I didnít make it. Without sleep, my brain stopped functioning properly. I spent the next
three weeks locked up on a psychiatric ward. Afterwards, my sister told me it was like visiting
someone with dementia. I had the odd moment of lucidity, where I was horrified by what was
happening around me, but during my stay on the ward I also said and thought some really weird
things. I thought I was a terrible abusive person who was being punished for committing a
heinous crime. I thought Iíd had an affair. I thought my husband was gay. I thought someone in
my family had died and I hadnít even noticed. I thought I was a boy who was just pretending to be
a girl. I even thought I was mixed up with Tommy Sheridanís perjury trial, which was a huge story
in the media at the time. I believed it was my fault he was in jail and that Iíd been to some
swingers parties with him. Of course, none of these things was true.

When I got better and went home I felt fragile for a while, and pretty shocked too. Being
sectioned, well, that was the sort of thing that happened to other people. Once I felt stronger I
started writing down my memories of the hospital. It was my husband who suggested writing a
book about my experiences. It made sense to me; lots of people had been through something
similar but most of them wouldnít feel comfortable writing about it. I started by getting a copy of
my hospital case notes. It was unpleasant at times to look back on it, but I wrote ĎWhatís Up With
Ros?í because I thought it might help other people. I wanted to prove that life goes on. OK, I had
a nasty experience, but since then Iíve travelled around Europe in a campervan, had a baby girl
and written a book. I wanted to show that mental health issues donít have to define who you are,
they donít even have to hold you back.

Iím also hoping that my book will help tackle the stigma that still clearly surrounds mental health.
If we can shine a light on mental health by encouraging people to be open about their problems,
we can start to take the fear away. I would absolutely love it if we could start to think of the brain
as an organ just like any other organ in the human body. Brains play up, like kidneys and hearts
and ears do. I think of my brain as a computer that needed rebooting.

I put as much humour as I could into the book, because I was determined to produce a good
story, a page-turner. Everyone loves to hear about other peopleís problems, but the last thing I
wanted was to write something that left you feeling miserable. ĎWhatís Up With Ros?í covers the
space of a year in my life, and that included a trip around Europe, so there were lots of silly
stories I could draw on. For me, humour is absolutely key - it works as a kind of barometer; I
think when you can look back on something sad and see the funny side of it, thatís a really good
sign that youíve moved on.

I've definitely changed since I was in hospital. My husband Rab and I have tried to keep the
work-life balance in check. I try not to worry so much, or at least to be open about my worries,
rather than bottling things up. I'm learning to be less of a perfectionist too. And every now and
then I remind myself to appreciate ordinary every day stuff, because when that's taken away
from you for a while, you realise how amazing normal life actually is. That might sound cheesy,
but it really is true.

I am only just back from maternity leave at the moment but I'm really enjoying being a mum to
Zoe; she's probably changed me as much as the hospital experience. I saw a great job
advertised the other day but it was full-time and in the end I decided I wouldn't like to only see her
for an hour or two each day; this also sounds cheesy but I'd miss her too much. Life now is
hectic but busy and lots of fun. I must have a good work ethic though, because I canít shake the
feeling that Iím skiving when Iím looking after my daughter.

Rab and I have also just bought a woodland in Caithness and we're hoping to turn it into one of
Scotland's first woodland crofts. We are just waiting for the green light from the crofting people at
the moment so have our fingers crossed.Ē

To find out more about 'What's Up With Ros?' and to read a free sample, go to

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