Innovative new book details celebrities' battles with mental illness

A new book, supported by the Priory Group, aims to dispel some of the myths surrounding mental illness and change the perceptions held of those suffering with a mental health condition.

‘What’s Normal Anyway?’ by Anna Gekoski and Steve Broome features ten candid first-person accounts of mental illness from some of the UK’s most prominent names.

Telling the stories of the successes and failures of various treatments and techniques, their stories are also ones of recovery, positivity and acceptance and illustrate that mental illness does not have to be a bar to achievement, happiness and fulfilment in life.

The ten celebrities* share their experiences of a range of conditions including bipolar, anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, OCD, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, nervous breakdowns and suicide attempts.  Each story graphically describes the effect on families, experiences of stigma and the need to fight the social taboos still associated with this type of illness.

Dr Richard Bowskill, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Group, who has treated Anna, wrote an Afterword for the book in which he has said:  “Reading this collection of powerful and moving personal accounts of well-known individuals’ experiences of mental distress reminds me that being a psychiatrist is a humbling and unique profession.

“These testimonials are a valuable contribution to the literature.  They give a rich insight into the confusing world of a variety of mental health problems and have the potential to help others manage their distress.

“Mental illness is part of the human condition and sufferers usually experience a vast and frustrating array of emotions and thoughts.   One of the most distressing aspects of mental illness can be the feeling that you are alone with your suffering.

“I also believe that this book will encourage those suffering from mental illness to reach out for support, access and accept treatment, and begin their recovery journeys.”

He commented on the book:  “Anything that helps to erase the stigma of mental illness is to be welcomed and these accounts, from people in the public eye, are both brave and enlightening.

“This book is to be recommended to everyone, whether or not they have a personal knowledge of mental illness, to break down barriers and destroy negative perceptions.”

*Alastair Campbell, Bill Oddie, Trish Goddard, Alicia Douvall, Tasha Danvers, Richard Mabey, Stephanie Cole, Dean Windass, Charles Walker MP, Kevan Jones MP

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