Writing has literally saved my life … and given me a new one

18th March 2013

Inspired by her own experiences of illness and recovery, Linda Gillard, a published author based in the Scottish Highlands, often includes mental health themes within her work.

Having already encouraged others in their recovery through her writing and talks, Linda has now shared her personal story of recovery with SRN. Her story focuses on the importance of being creative and finding the right focus in her life, starting with writing her first book Emotional Geology, but also explores themes of medication, stigma, support and carers.

Part 1: “I thought there was something cyclical going on in my head that was different from what everyone else thought was going on.”

Linda introduces herself and how she became diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder after charting her own moods. (Duration: 3:25 minutes)

Audio recording: Linda Gillard (Part 1)


Part 2: “I think one of the reasons I had a breakdown was that I am a naturally creative person who had excised creativity from my life.”

Linda describes the importance reading, and latterly writing, had for her in coming to terms with her diagnosis and dealing with the effects of medication on her creativity and sense of self. (Duration: 4:23 minutes)

Audio recording: Linda Gillard (Part 2)


Part 3: “I was trying to find an upside to bipolar. When I was diagnosed I read the textbooks and I couldn’t find any good news.”

After reading an inspiring quotation, Linda was motivated to write an “alternative autobiography” which became her first novel Emotional Geology, which other writers supported her to get published. Linda also describes her desire to make people more aware of the potential positives of experiencing bipolar disorder when in recovery. (Duration: 5:58 minutes)

Audio recording: Linda Gillard (Part 3)


Part 4: “I think if I’ve managed to educate people about mental illness I’ve sort of done it by stealth.”

Linda recognises the hold stigma still has over our society and the role that story can have in challenging attitudes even with readers with no particular interest in mental health. (Duration: 3:40 minutes)

Audio recording: Linda Gillard (Part 4)


Part 5: “If something is personally therapeutic for you is it transferable?”

Mental health (including issues of suicidality) has become an underlying theme for Linda’s creative work because of her own experiences. She talks about how glad she is to have found what she was born to do, helping people and making a living. (Duration: 3:15 minutes)

Audio recording: Linda Gillard (Part 5)


Part 6: “Writing has literally saved my life … and given me a new one.”

Linda explains how the symptoms of her illness are self-managed without medication through her creativity, changing her lifestyle and having support from her psychiatrist. (Duration: 3:36 minutes)

Audio recording: Linda Gillard (Part 6)


Part 7: “I decided the only honest thing to do was to fight the stigma.”

Linda has chosen to be open about her experiences, but here she shares the professional considerations she made first and why she was willing to share her story. (Duration: 1:30 minutes)

Audio recording: Linda Gillard (Part 7)


If you’d like to share your own experiences or read more recovery stories please visit SRN’s story-sharing website Write to Recovery: www.writetorecovery.net.