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One in four people will experience mental health problems at some point in their lifetime, but there remains a great deal of ignorance about what it's really like to experience mental illness - or indeed even what the symptoms of mental illness are.
My name is Martine Daniel, and I am proud to say that I am one of those one in four. Yes, proud, because I firmly believe that there should be no shame in admitting mental health problems. Despite the negative views of mental illness that the media is often guilty of portraying, the majority of people with mental health problems aren't dangerous or violent.
Early in 2009, mental health charities Rethink, Mind and Mental Health Media launched an ambitious campaign to break the stigma surrounding mental illness. Fronted by celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax and Alistair Campbell, the Time to Change Campaign has taken to the streets of the United Kingdom in an attempt to bring to the attention of the general public the truth about the experience of mental illness.
I wanted to make my own contribution to the Time to Change Campaign, but instead of just putting up posters or distributing leaflets, I wanted to do something more, something unusual. So I wrote my debut novel, The Fire in Your Eyes to capture the experience of Bipolar Affective Disorder (formerly known as Manic Depression). Chipmunka Publishing, the mental health publishers, released The Fire in Your Eyes in paperback in August 2009. The novel is also available as an e-book, and as an Amazon Kindle edition.
The stigma of mental illness isn't going to be easy to break, which is why I'm going to keep on writing novels that explain the truth of mental health problems. The sequel to The Fire in Your Eyes, Legacy of Lies, should be available early in 2010.
I have recently launched the mental health mansion to collect together information and advice about mental health - including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, psychiatric medication and psychotherapy.