NaNoWriMo 2017 for Rochdale and District Mind


MIND_Rochdale-and-District_Stack-1504016273-900x600 nano_feature


As November closely approaches, we are also getting geared up to dive in to the madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – a major annual event which sees published author’s and aspiring writers amongst us preparing to face the challenge of undertaking 50,000 words during the course of November.

That’s averaging 1,667 words per day, and provides 100% commitment from the participant to meet that target.

To give you a vague idea of the amount of work 50k is, that’s pretty much just over the word count of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby… (47,097!)

This year, I have geared myself up for my first ever NaNoWriMo challenge, and took the sensible advice to start prepping early. To say I started three months ago, it certainly has come around quickly!

Whilst taking this challenge, I also thought it a great opportunity to do some fundraising for a charity that is very close to my heart.

Rochdale and District Mind is a local mental health and wellbeing organisation who primarily relay on donations and sponsorships to keep the Charity afloat. The volunteers work tirelessly to support and assist in recovery for those in need – myself being one of those seeking help when I turned 18.

Mind was the first services that I braved to access on my own. At the time, I was severely struggling with depression, cripplingly low self esteem, bouts of mania, self-harm and addiction after suffering in silence from my early teens. This pathway ultimately lead me on the right pathway to get my diagnosis of Bipolar disorder – from which I received the treatment I needed to get back on my feet, go back to university and raise my beautiful young daughter.

As of many people who I have to be thankful for, the kindness and the efforts of the service workers at Rochdale Mind saved my life.

As much as I feel I can’t give enough back, this is my way of saying thank you. For my NaNoWriMo project 2017, I will be undertaking my first fiction project, a novel, which focusses on the realities of mental health.

Please help support Rochdale and District Mind (and also encourage me in my word count!) by visiting my just giving page below and giving a small donation.




I’d also love to hear from those who are taking part with NaNo this year!


Thank you!


To find more about the incredible services and support that Rochdale Mind do please visit their website:


“Sharing Stories” – How Bipolar type II has affected my life, by Jenna White.



“My personal story with mental illness begins when I was 13 years old. I began to feel different than the rest of my peers and I showed signs of both depression and mania. I was put on mood stabilizers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills to quell the mood shifts. I began to self-mutilate, choke myself with scarfs and pop different pills in the medicine cabinet. Neither my Mom or Dad understood mental illness and chastised me endlessly with a hint of concern.

I began high school and in grade 10, and found the worst boyfriend I ever had. He was mentally, emotionally, sexually and physically abusive to me for a year and a half. I had grown up with abuse so I knew this was over the top but I knew how to handle it…or so I thought. I began to snort hard drugs like cocaine and speed. The boyfriend, Kyle, didn’t want me taking my medication because he didn’t believe in it. I was being broken spiritually and not getting proper help for my mental state.

At 15 I attempted suicide for the first time. I had “tried” before by popping handfuls of random medication from the cabinet but it wasn’t a serious gesture. This time I was in the bath, note written, a full bottle of Tylenol in my stomach and I was on my way. But suddenly I changed my mind and threw the bottle at my mom, evidently she made me throw up and we never spoke of it again.

Fast forward to when I am 19. My mental state was so terrible I was having black outs with a different personality. I had been a drug addict for 4 years at that point and it was all getting to be too much. I quit drugs and moved to Toronto Ontario with a boyfriend and his kid. In Toronto I was admitted to a hospital ward for 2 weeks for a final diagnosis: Bipolar II.

From then I’ve been admitted 3 more times in two different cities. I constantly struggle with medications and dosages which cause me to go into manic and depressive states. My family, social and professional life suffers from my disorder.”

-By Jenna White.

Jenna writes about the personal struggles with having a Bipolar type II diagnosis on her blog, Brandnewbipolar.


Please drop me an email on if you want to take part and be featured in “Sharing Stories”, if you have a story to tell or you just want to share your thoughts about your experiences with mental health. I am so proud of everyone who has contributed and who has joined me in this journey so far, and I do hope our army gets stronger. A bigger voice. A fight to speak louder. – M

Follow the Sharing Stories Facebook page! – The Manic Years – Sharing Stories of Mental Health

Speak. Louder.


Recently, The Manic Years has had many of you emailing in your first hand experiences of what it is like to live with difficulties from a variety of backgrounds reguarding mental health. So far, the stories in the feature has inspired people, reached out to many and succeeded on expressing a multitude of inner turmoil that is so often hard to explain for some.

It is clear that attitudes towards mental health is changing, thanks to all the hard work of so many people have advocated for mental health, and the rights of those who struggle. Admitting you have a problem, and even asking for help is getting easier for some as having depression – and many more illnesses – is becoming more normalised.

However, we are still lacking in how information about mental health disorders is delivered, and many thousands, millions out there are still struggling to recognise what exactly they are suffering with;

“I can’t be Bipolar, because I am not happy, right?”

“I feel numb all the time, but it’s obviously not depression. Depression means you are sad, this must be something else.”

“I cut last night. I can’t explain why. I will just hide it and pretend like it didn’t happen.”

This is something I have come across (and even felt myself) over the years. People are being misinformed. People are not educted enough.

It is so important that we take a stand and speak out about our experiences. Go on to one of the most popular health websites, where it explains symptoms of anxiety and you get the standard list of symptoms; Heart racing, sweating, shortness of breath. Worry….

Can you relate this to your anxiety? Or is it so much more than that?

It seems that facts and figures aren’t enough, what does this information spread to our ‘non-sufferers’ out there? The people who have never experienced depression/anxiety and the rest as such?

CLASSIC SYMPTOMS; “Heart racing, sweating, shortness of breath…Worry.”

THEIR REPLY; “Just take some water. Sit down. Stop over thinking things! Problem solved.

Do you see the issue here?

Sometimes there is no logic behind mental health. There is no one solution. It is so much more. Anxiety is so much more than worry. Depression is so much more than feeling sad. Bipolar is so much more than a sad/happy state. Self-injury is so much more than an act of agression towards one’s self. If people who have never really fully experienced the wrath of psychological problems, then why should we expect people to recognise what is happening to them when they do get ill?

It is so valuable to others who are lost that those who have experienced mental disorders speak out about our feelings and our realities. Sharing not only makes it okay, makes people feel like they aren’t alone, but it also gives people something to relate to. It is the key to understanding when we are suffering. Speaking up, and speaking louder can save lives.

The ‘Sharing Stories’ feature will continue to do that, and I have many hopes that each and every one of your experiences will connect to someone, somewhere in the world and give them not just the knowledge they need for understanding what they are going through, but also the comfort they need to carry on and the confidence to speak out themselves.

Please drop me an email on if you want to take part and be featured on the blog, if you have a story to tell or you just want to share your thoughts about your experiences. They matter, so much. I am so proud of everyone who has contributed and who has joined me in this journey so far, and I do hope our army gets stronger. A bigger voice. A fight to speak louder.

M x

“Sharing Stories” – Of losing hope, by Róisín.

sharing stories, the manic years

“I’m not 100% sure of what’s gone on in my life, but it’s been awful really. My Dad was an alcoholic who abused me, and my Mom didn’t mean to be neglectful, but she had to work all the time because my dad refused to get a job.

When I was just starting school, she got us together and left him. Of course, I had bonded really well with my Dad. After all he only beat me because I deserved it – it took years to realise that he beat me because he was an angry drunk – so I fought so hard to spend every second with him; I was wild, I would scratch my mom and scream and throw things around my room. He got a girlfriend, things got worse; she was abusive too, and so fucked up. I was always afraid. Always.

I stopped eating, began purging. Then I started self- harming, and I was close to death. Then at 13, I got sick. But not from that…

My mom brought me to hospital, and I found out that I had a brain tumour! If I had left it any longer, they said I would have died. They thought I was so underweight because I was ill, and I thought to myself, ‘Ok, I won’t tell them, I can start over now.’ Oh silly me, huh?

​Well, skip forward two years and I tried to kill myself. Even though the wounds I made were not life threatening, they knew what I’d do if I was left alone; so they admitted me there and then. I ended up in an inpatient unit; hse run, you know, and I still to this day have nightmares about it. I don’t mean that in the ‘it was so bad, metaphorical nightmares’ kind of way, I mean literal nightmares; I wake up and I can’t move or speak. My Psychiatrist recently told me I had Borderline Personality Disorder -and wow, that just messed me up; but he’s referring me to a specialist; so maybe help is on it’s way? I’m tired right now, losing hope. I hope they can do something.”

-By Róisín.

Huge thank you to Róisín for opening up to us about her struggles, and I wish her all the best on her journey to seeking support.


Themanicyears is still looking for people to share their stories. If you have an experience with Mental Health you would like to share on here, please do not hesitate to drop me an email on, and get your story published on our “Sharing Stories” feature.– M.


“Sharing Stories” – Music and Blogging, by Scott Hamilton.

sharing stories themanicyears


My name is Scott. I live in the North East of England and was originally diagnosed with depression and anxiety over twenty five years ago.

I was a quiet kid, kept very much to myself as I was growing up. My family appeared pretty normal at first but cracks have shown with all of us at some point. My first major episode came in my late teens. I started developing signs of depression and anxiety whilst studying for my A-Levels. I went to the doctors serval where I was told any combination of these things:


“It’s your hormones.”

“It’s common for someone your age.”

“You’ll grow out of it.!”


Mental health as we know it didn’t exist in the late eighties and early nineties. You were kind of told to get on with it, buck your ideas up.
I started getting worse. By the end of my studies I’d become a mess. The strict rules of sixth form led to some metaphorical butting of heads. I was alienating people. I was slipping into a pretty bleak struggle with myself and I was pretty damn intent on breaking me.I started self-harming as a way to manifest the white noise and shit in my head. If I could make it real it would exist. If it existed I could try to deal with it. I would punch walls until my knuckles bled. Even now I can’t flex my hands without the knuckle joints of my little fingers popping. I started isolating myself even more, growing more and more despondent every day. That was until I took my overdose.

Even now I know it wasn’t premeditated. I didn’t think that I wanted to kill myself. I just wanted everything to end. I wanted an absence from existence. I just wanted the journey I was on to just stop. I took a lot of pills and washed them down with some beers. After I few hours I let my family know what I’d done and was rushed to hospital where I ended up vomiting for hours, puking the poison and parts of my stomach out of my system.

I saw some counsellors but knew I wasn’t quite right afterwards. I kind of rode the waves of my life, battling the ensuing panic attacks and depression whilst trying to find some purpose to my being here.


Something saved me.


As corny as it sounds I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for music. It literally saved my life and connected with my soul. It became something that would inform and influence me. I ended up singing in a kind of arty punk cabaret band, influenced by performance art as much as music. It provided me with a much needed outlet for the trapped white noise in my head – it gave a voice to my plague of fears and doubts. Onstage I’d writhe, contort and throw myself into the moment I’m an attempt to exorcise the negativity. If I didn’t come off stage cut, bruised, marked or bleeding it had been a bad gig.

Eventually I started on medication. I was first prescribed Prozac in the late nineties. I always felt it worked for me when I needed, and would spend time on and off it. Sometimes it would leave me dazed and confused, other times I could function like a normal member of society. Since then I tried, and occasionally had success, with several different meds. At the moment Venlafaxine is doing a great job of keeping me relatively on an even keel. Some days are better than others but I much prefer that than being too numb to care.

My last major spell with anxiety and depression started five months ago and was the result of me not being able to process some things properly. The anxiety robbed me of my ability to go outside and enjoy my life for a while. Counselling and the afore mentioned meds pulled me back to a point where I could go back to work and try to live my life the best I can.

One of the things that I found really helpful was starting to write a blog, The Order Of The Dog. Within a few hours of my first post I’d had messages of support and compassion. I even had people email me to tell me their stories and what had happened to them. This spurred me on. I ended up creating a small closed support group on Facebook, also called The Order Of The Dog, after someone messaged me to say that my blog had helped her understand her daughter’s suicide attempt. I knew then that things had become more than just about me, I’d been able to strike a chord with others too. I try to post my blogs a couple of times a week, here on WordPress but also on Blogger too. I mainly talk about my issues but I’ve also starting telling the story of other people too which I’ve found incredibly rewarding.
The whole thing of being able to talk openly in such a way has been incredibly therapeutic and I know it’s really helping me as well as other people. Not only that but I’m also helping create an awareness at my workplace around mental health issues and support. I’m finding I can be a tool for change rather than let everything change me. I like who I am (most of the time) and I can help create an acceptance and understanding of what I’ve gone and continue to go through.

-By Scott Hamilton.


You can find Scott’s Wordpress blog at TheOrderOfTheDog , and find his facebook Support group here.


Themanicyears is still looking for people to share their stories! If you have an experience with Mental Health you would like to share on here, please do not hesitate to drop me an email on, and get your story published on our “Sharing Stories” feature. – M.


Yesterday was the first day I didn’t find myself using opiates to cope. I have been having the odd one or two pills (down from 10 in two weeks) and I’ve only just remembered that yesterday went by without me even thinking of them. My anxiety is gone. Whether it has cleared up from not abusing codeine, or I don’t feel the need to use as the new medication has controlled the anxiety? I have no idea, but I’m grateful that this may all be over very soon.

Last month, I had a dry month. Midnight until midnight I was clean of any alcohol, to control the risk of cross addicting. There has been no self harm incidents. No bad thoughts of harming myself whatsoever.

And I can hold my head up and have the pride to say that my decision to cut clean from my partner of 6 years, the father to my child, has saved my life.


I took some. 

I know it’s no Codeine, so you can understand my confusion whether to call this an actual ‘relapse’ or not, but it’s an Opiate nonetheless. 

For a brief update, I have a slight past history of painkiller addiction and overdose, the recent one being a bad spell from last December to February this year (codeine). It’s something I struggle with, and first started when I was about 18 and battling my first ever serious attempt to quit self harming… But silly old me ended up cross addicting with boxes and boxes of painkillers per week in aid to control the urges (without realising anything was wrong – surprisingly easily done!). 

So when I had the headache from hell after work today and my mum offered me a packet of Tramadol – I took without even thinking straight. 

I admitted it to The Boy. He was proud of me for having the courage to tell him; control measure in aid of the temptation of me hiding that I had them and taking as many as I wanted. Then I promised I wouldn’t take anymore tonight and this was just a minor setback.

No more headache. But I have had a rush of pure warmth, relaxation and ecstasy running through my veins and for the first time since ‘The Event’… My anxiety has gone. It’s been minimal before, but I’m always fighting it off (kind of like a ‘do or die’ doing everything in my might to stay positive and carry on going, because if I didn’t I don’t even think if bother seeking medical attention next time the suicidal urges kicked in). And it’s SO good not to have to fight it… I know now in the back of my mind that those drugs are there, waiting for me, and when that vicious anxiety comes slamming back in to my heart and crippling me, there’s a magic little pill that will shut it down entirely. 

I know I’m strong willed enough to fight off the temptation, however what is frightening me is whether I actually care enough to even attempt to resist. 


Psychomotor agitation. Does this mean im on the way up? Does it mean I’m mixed? I’m still pretty fresh to all of this. My arm is a mess – it’s the only thing that (barely) relieves it at the moment. Hopefully it will be enough to last me until I attempt to sort myself out.

I’ve decided to set some goals to help with the healing process. This is the list I’ve drawn up so far;

1. Try and get an earlier nights sleep, especially when I have to get up for work the following day. Even if it’s an hour earlier, at least it’s something.

2. Stop speeding. No seriously Megan, have more road awareness. Ive noticed I can’t help but put my foot down the past week or so.

3. Eat a little healthier. Not diet, but just fill the body with more nutritious stuff, just to make me feel better.

4. Enjoy work. Embrace it. It’s what ive wanted to do for a while now and I have this amazing opportunity in front of me that I’d be stupid not to appreciate.

5. Get out and run. Don’t push it, just let it occur naturally.

6. Let the self injury die down on it’s own. The more you fight the more you struggle. Be kinder.

7. Figure out what you want and be honest to yourself. Keep it simple – you can’t change the present situation but what’s the rush? You’ll Get there when you’re ready.



Where about on the line in the past few months did I let this slip?

I want – I need – to regain my control back over my life, as currently it seems my emotions are living my life for me. Making my decisions for me, ultimately leading to self-destruction. And what’s worse is, I’m letting this happen.

When did I become a big softie, and what degraded me to have so little self-esteem?

I’ve relapsed again with the pills and the self-harm. I know that I’m worth more than to hurt myself and delay my progress. If I’m not careful, I am going to ruin my life.

In addition to the latter, I’m letting people around me control me. Easily lead, always have been, it’s a major character flaw. But it’s still all down to the personal decision process. Do I let people lead me on and influence me? Yes. Do I have to fall for this? No… No I do not.

I think it’s time to turn this around. Close my eyes and think about what I want in life, what my short and long term goals are and fight. Make peace with myself, befriend the enemy. Be clever. Be quick. Be kind to myself. Look up to the stars more, realise how much of a tiny proportion of insignificance my life and my issues are compared to the universe itself and what really matters. This is my life and I’m fed up of being hurt, by myself and by others around me. Regain that control, take the drivers seat and step it up a notch.

Make my own decisions. Stop caring about matters that don’t give anything back in return. I don’t have to be self-destructive and I don’t have to be in pain. What do I want out of the time I’ve been blessed with on this Earth? Stop caring about what others want – that’s their problem. Be realistic. Fall in love with my own personal reality; not with the mere idea of fantasy. Don’t get caught up.

What an impact a tiny spark of self-respect can have.

I  believe that you control your destiny, that you can be what you want to be. You  can also stop and say, ‘No, I won’t do it, I won’t behave his way anymore. I’m  lonely and I need people around me, maybe I have to change my methods of  behaving,’ and then you do it. – Leo  Buscaglia