World Mental Health Day, a day dedicated to the education and awareness of mental health across the globe.
As most of my books handle the subjects surrounding mental health issues, I’ve been asked to write a guest blog about the topic.
Mental illness has always been a taboo topic for most people, and for some it still is. But I’m glad that’s finally been changing over the years and that people aren’t afraid anymore to open up about their problems.
The reason why I write about it in my novels, and why I believe it’s important to take care of your mental health, is because I have suffered from it before. Just like many other people, on the surface it looked like I had everything sorted out. But underneath, I was a man with deep insecurities and anxieties that prevented me from getting a decent night’s sleep. And it wasn’t just me, I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t alone. For many years I have seen people from my close environment succumb to it.
It took me a while to figure out what was going on, and by writing about it, I want to speed up the healing process for other people. If there is anything I have learned from it, it’s the importance of opening up. Talking to your friends and family is the best step you can take, and that’s exactly what I did. And of course, writing them down helped speed up the process as well.
Multiple studies have discovered that reading increases social awareness and empathy. It can even reduce some of the prejudice people have towards certain subjects, like mental health issues. Many authors, including me, try to give their characters some psychological problems, hoping it would increase awareness about the subject.
When authors manage to present their characters to their audience successfully, expressing every inch of their moods, it allows the reader to understand those feelings even better. Sometimes they are even able to experience those feelings themselves through the author’s words.
Reading helps the reader feel more connected to their favourite characters, and if those characters happen to have mental health issues, it helps them understand it more. It can even help people who are dealing with issues like depression or anxiety by showing them the warning signs. Sometimes people go through life without even knowing they’re being chased by a big, black dog, not knowing why it’s chasing them. Or what they can do to escape its clutches. It’s only later on that they realise they are suffering from a mental illness.
Writing about it makes it real and it shows that it could happen to literally everyone, and that is what the world needs today. More and more people suffer from depression or a burnout without even knowing it. It is our duty as authors to help people understand how important it is to take care of your mental health.
That’s exactly what I did by writing about my own mental health issues, which also worked as my own therapy. My novel Insomnia deals with topics like anxiety, depression and how the lack of sleep can cause panic attacks or even paranoia. One of the main reasons why I handled such dark topics in my books, is because I wanted to show some of the warning signs, giving people the chance to understand those issues better. And maybe even help them recognise them in other people and get them the help they need. I used my own experiences and insights in my novel, and with Insomnia I hope to improve the awareness of mental health. Everyone deserves to live a happy and healthy life.
If I’ve convinced you just how important it is to take care of your mental health, spread the message. And if you like nail-biting, fast-paced thrillers, or if you’re just curious on how I implemented such delicate issues into a world-twisting, sleepless read, get yourself a copy of Insomnia.
 The black dog has been used as a metaphor for depression from classical mythology through medieval folklore to Churchill.