How to describe yourself after breakdown?

My story

One reason (of thousands) why people may not want to go into mental hospital is because we worry about how we might be described, both then and afterwards.

“Nutcase,” for instance.

Of course, few people are as heartless as to say that. But still, we wonder how to describe the person we have become.

I did, anyway.

I was recently asked to describe myself so that a friend could introduce me to some influential people who might help me spread the word. I didn’t know what I could say, so I asked a handful of friends.

Here’s one of the replies, edited to protect other peoples’ identities:

It is helpful.

I have had mental health problems, but I was previously, and often still am, together and positive.

Taking my drawings on tour


I visited a major law firm in the City of London last week, to talk about doing an event with them – a talk, with my drawings on a slide show, like the events I’ve done elsewhere.

I realised that, like many other organisations, this firm is looking to do something to coincide with big national Mental Health Awareness campaigns. 

Which is wonderful, but I’m quite booked up in October. And I could do with spreading out my work relating to mental health. It’s quite exhausting!

So I’ve been wondering about creating a mini exhibition of (some of) the drawings I made, and writing captions to go with them, to take from one firm to the next for a week / fortnight / month at a time.

(Yes, I know lawyers aren’t all white men in pinstriped suits. But I’d like this work to reach men as well as the many women who are already, bless them, open to this kind of thing)

I could also take it to churches or other community groups.

As usual, I find the idea of starting something like this rather overwhelming, and wanted to put the idea out there to see what people suggest.

Do you think that’s something firms / churches / others could be interested in? (If so, what kind of ‘others’?)

Your suggestions gratefully received.

But I’ve closed comments, because I’m getting a lot of spam, and it’s stressing me out! My contact details are at the bottom of the Talks and Workshops page.

My story
While I was still in psychiatric hospital (but going home at night), I went to a reception at 10 Downing Street. It felt like another planet. Happily, a great friend recognised me…
…and we took a selfie at the front door, on the way out.

I’m posting these pictures because I’ve been in touch with my friend again today. I remember how wonderfully she responded to me telling her I had come straight from mental hospital.

She laughed, and shared a few things about her own various struggles, over the years.

I felt hugely grateful to be able to laugh.

And for her bravery in sharing her own stories.

The following day I was back in hospital again.

Next time I attend a glitzy reception (if anybody should invite me to one) I will try to remember that the people around me might include psychiatric patients on day release…

Postscript. Farah Tazeen Ahmad died on 6 November 2019. The world lost an award-winning broadcaster, her sons lost their mother, and I lost a dear friend.