Amy sat in lockdown experiencing the same day over and over, wondering what to do with the rest of her life. She decided that she wanted to create a collection of poetry about her experiences with mental health. She also wanted to show the love and support she has gained from meeting her partner, having her family and friends support and how life can change in such a short time.
"I am an anxious, depressed and generally panicked woman about life/myself/the world at large, who decided to express herself through the joy of free writing. I hope it can inspire people to take a chance on something they want/need to do. I’m very grateful to my parents and my nannan for investing in my dream and to Partnership Publishing for making it a reality."
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What inspired you to start writing?
AB: I’ve been writing poetry since I was an early teen, probably 13 or 14 (a good way of getting all the teen angst out!) I’d write my thoughts, rhyming poems, song lyrics and also keep diaries. I did English Literature at GCSE and A-Level, and then came back to it through my Open University Degree course which I started in January 2016. The creative writing modules really inspired me to return to writing poetry for myself, and I enjoy reading poets such as Emily Dickinson and John Donne. I bought a copy of ‘The Mountain’ by Laura Ding Edwards and loved the idea of incorporating my life experiences with mental health into a poetry collection.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
AB: Start! I began free-hand writing as an activity for university and decided to keep a writers notebook where I would jot down little thoughts I had in the day, or conversations I’d overheard in my daily life. I loved the freedom of just writing the first thing that came to mind. It felt so organic and honest and raw. Find what works for you, some people enjoy the structure of specific poetic techniques, some people are better at fiction and creating new worlds, others are life writers and want to share their experiences with the world to help others. Gravitate towards what moves you the most and the words will come.
What book is currently on your bedside table?
AB: I have a few! I have been getting through the lockdowns one book at a time! Currently there’s a stack including ‘Great Goddesses’ by Nikita Gill, ‘The Ocean at the end of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman, ‘The Miseducation of Evie Epworth’ by Matson Taylor, and I’ve just finished ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.
My problem is ... my to be read pile never seems to get any smaller, as I keep buying books from The Rabbit Hole Bookshop in Brigg!
What’s your favourite TV show/series you could watch on repeat?
AB: Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big ‘Friends’ fan, I can watch it over and over and it’s still funny to me! I’m also a big fan of comedies like ‘Black Books’ and recently I’ve been repeatedly watching ‘Get Organised - The Home Edit’ to inspire myself to be more organised! I do have many things on my ‘must watch list’ and a list of recommendations from friends that I never seem to get around to!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? By whom?
AB: Do everything you can, while you still can. The time will pass regardless, so you might as well be chasing a dream while it does! And...be yourself, everyone else is taken.
Which season is your favourite?
AB: Autumn. I love it. I’ve written many many things about autumn. It just feel so...calm, cosy, and beautiful. It’s my favourite time of year. I love knitwear and warm drinks and...I could go on and on about it, but definitely autumn!
What are you good at?
AB: I’m very good at procrastinating! I’m good at being calm in a crisis, in the sense that if someone is more worked up than I am, I go into calm mode and try to resolve the problem (it might be a motherly thing I don’t know). I’m good at writing lists, I organise my whole existence through lists/diaries/calendars.
What are you bad at?
AB: I’m bad at rationalising with myself and I struggle daily with anxiety and panic. I think my anxiety has only worsened since becoming a parent and worrying about more than just myself/my future. I’ve struggled a lot in the past with maintaining friendships and relationships, as I have knee-jerk reactions to things and can act impulsively, so I’ve been working on not immediately reacting to every situation and actually talking things out first and being in a calm space. I’ve ended up socially anxious/physically shaking because I haven’t set the boundaries I needed so I’m working on that too. I think a lot of changes come in your 30s, when you know yourself a little better.
If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?
AB: Shakespeare, to clear up a few myths and facts or fiction about his writing! I would cook him some pancakes with various toppings, so we could chat while creating them.
If you could change your name, what would it be?
AB: It would be to Mrs! We were due to get married in 2020 but had to postpone like so many others, so I look forward to the day I will be able to be an official Mrs.
What is your favourite way to unwind after a busy day?
AB: It’s so terribly cliche but - Bath, wine or tea, cosy pjs, blanket and chocolate is my idea of pure bliss! 8 hours of sleep would also be fantastic but my mind refuses to switch off a lot of the time.
What do you do when you’re not working?
AB: I’m a stay at home mum/distance learner, so I spend most of my time with my significant other Jamie, my 2 year old daughter Lily and my step-daughter Phoebe. With lockdown there aren’t many other people we can see at the moment. We go on many walks, play board games, do arts and crafts, have film date nights, and try not to have tantrums! When we can, we like to see family and friends/have quality time together.
My activities since March 2020 have changed a lot as I never really took on craft projects/didn’t feel like I had the time, but with social distancing and things...it’s made me re-evaluate what I want to do, and also what prompted me to reach out to submit my poetry to Partnership Publishing! When I have some alone time, I have taken up making things like pom-pom wreaths, needle felting, diamond painting etc. Otherwise, I’m studying for Uni, binge watching TV or taking part in yet another video chat!
What fictional place would you like to visit?
AB: Central Perk. I’ve actually been to the Friends Fest TV Tour 3 times now, but it would be great to actually go to the real Central Perk with those characters! Or drink wine with Bernard Black in the bookshop!
What is one thing people may not don’t know about you?
AB: I make jokes about it sometimes, but I don’t think most people know how much I struggle with my memory. I remember some things from my childhood or significant moments in my life very sharply, but I often struggle to remember other events that people tell me about. I’ve been told it’s a side effect of anxiety/depression, as your brain is essentially so focused on the here and now/the perceived threats that it doesn’t always retain everything. I’m quite forgetful at times so lists and reminders are definitely my way of getting through the day!
Depression never really goes away, it ebbs and flows being manageable or being terrible, so I’ve had to learn to deal with it being in my life. Toxic positivity is hard to deal with, as some people are quite... practical, like “have a better attitude, exercise more, be happier” etc. But they don’t see that mental health is the same as physical health, your brain has an illness and it’s part of your body.