As an avid runner and someone who has been quite vocal about my dealings with mental health I jumped at the chance to meet Telegraph journalist, author and Prince Harry’s new BFF - Bryony Gordon. Her latest book, ‘Eat.Drink.Run’ promised to be an account of how training for the London Marathon kick-started a journey of recovery for someone who suffers from OCD and depression. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was actually very little narrative on running within the book. Instead, it is a story of positivity and of finding hope in the midst of crippling mental health struggles.
Her third memoir following the best-selling ‘The Wrong Knickers’ and 'Mad Girl’, ‘Eat.Drink.Run’ is the kind of book you wish had already been written (although I’m sure Bryony is glad it wasn’t!) Those suffering from depression, anxiety and mental health issues have been screaming out for an honest account of what it means to live with these challenges. A journey told with honesty, humour, plenty of failure and a hell of a lot of success. It is anything but a self-help book, but her tale is both inspiring and relatable and just the act of sharing it has helped thousands talk more about their experiences and the topic of mental health.
I caught up with Bryony prior to her talk as part of the Jersey Festival of Words to find out just what makes a mad girl want to run a marathon.
You recently completed your second London Marathon this year. What was the motivation behind doing this run again?
I wanted to pass on the positivity I felt from taking part in my first London Marathon, so I agreed to run it again with my friend, the plus sized model Jada Sezer. I’m also really bad at saying no to anything, its got in me in some bad situations! The experience this time was totally different though, it wasn’t as enjoyable as my first. I think I got a tad complacent and wasn’t as fit as I could have been.
Do you feel that you need a new goal to drive you forward? Something to be your next marathon?
Yes, I am completely driven by my need for a next goal, but I am trying not to be. It’s not so healthy to be absorbed by these goals, so I must try harder to sit back at times and just let life happen.
Is there a compulsion to write another book as part of your mental health journey?
There’s a book deal, so I need to be writing another two books, but no I don’t get that same sense of satisfaction from writing as I would do talking about mental health. I find standing in front of a crowd much easier. I am working on the next book now, but there won’t be a requirement to take part in any challenge for this one.
Has writing been a form of therapy?
There is a lot of hate that goes along with writing the books, I find it much easier to talk about my experiences and feelings than to write them down, but this is my job. Obviously I do get enjoyment from it, but there is always the pressure of a deadline hanging over me. That having been said, If I hadn’t written ‘Mad Girl’, I don’t think I would be mentally in the position that I am in now, for which I am grateful.
Your book will resonate with a lot of people going through the same thing. Did you see yourself reflected in the people that you met along the course of your training?
Yes, most of what I do and write about in Eat.Drink.Run is about finding people like me. Searching for my tribe. ‘Mad Girl’ was written as an act of desperation and I like to think this is a story of hope.
How important is humour for you when talking about mental health?
I think using humour allows you to take a bit of power back, it’s about taking those negatives and turning them into positives. If I read a book and I’m in a bad place, I want it to make me laugh, misery memoirs just fill me with horror. I also don’t think it’s as black and white as feeling happy or sad, we can be both things at one time. Although I have learnt there’s one thing more important than humour though…..sleep!