You may not be aware, but tomorrow marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the focus is on anxiety, one of the leading causes of mental ill-health in the world. But before we open that particularly wriggly can of worms, I hope you don't mind if I introduce myself.
I'm Sarah Rayner, and I've been a Moodscope user for three years. Back then my chart was a vertiginous zigzag of ups and downs, and great though those highs feel, I was desperate to work out what triggered such extremes and to morph my chart from something resembling an alpine mountain range into one more like the South Downs, near where I live.
In this process I found being able to track my moods very useful, then when Jon left I offered to write some of these emails. Moodscope had made such a difference to me that I wanted to do a little to help the lovely team who run the site. I've blogged anonymously many times since and I've especially enjoyed the responses from you, my fellow 'scopers.
My day (and sometimes night) job is as an author – a few of you might know One Moment, One Morning, my novel, which was something of a bestseller.
More to the point, my new novel, Another Night, Another Day, is about a subject close to all of our hearts – mental health. It focuses on three people who meet in a psychiatric clinic and explores breakdown from the perspective of those experiencing it, touching on anxiety, depression, bipolar illness, addiction and more, yet is, I believe, funny as well as moving. I hope – like Mental Health Awareness Week and Moodscope – it increases understanding and encourages more openness. Certainly it has a positive message overall.
The book is available exclusively at Waterstones, but now, as a thank you to Moodscope members and to mark this important week, I've arranged with Caroline to give away a signed copy of Another Night, Another Day every day from today until May 19. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Giveaway' as the subject and they'll pick one person each day to receive a free signed copy.
Tomorrow I'll be writing the first of my blogs about anxiety – a subject I know about from personal experience. But first I just wanted to say 'hello', and 'I get it; I've been there'.
I hope by putting my name to my blogs, I'm helping in a small way to overcome the stigma associated with mental illness. I also hope it might illustrate it's possible to get better – because whilst my chart still isn't quite as gently undulating as I'd like, it's lot less alpine than it used to be.
A Moodscope member.