Interview with Claire Eastham Author of we’re all mad here
Claire Eastham is an award-winning mental health blogger, campaigner and bestselling author of the book ‘We’re All Mad Here.’ Regarded as one of the UK’s fore-running mental health bloggers, Claire’s witty and self- deprecating sense of humour has seen her attract thousands of subscribers. She is known for her relatable and honest approach, bridging the gap between health professionals, doctors and those living with mental illness. She is fast becoming known as an expert in the field. Claire is an ambassador for Charity MQ and is regularly asked to be an authoritative voice about anxiety on TV and Radio. She is currently writing her follow up book, which is sure to be another hit.
Q. When did you first realise you had an issue with Anxiety?
Officially? When I had (what I now know) was a panic attack and ran out of an important meeting screaming! But to be honest, I’ve always known that something wasn’t quite right. I would fret about social situations for days in advance and be consumed by negative thoughts.
Q. How was anxiety affecting you on a day to day basis?
Social anxiety is very specific in that the person obsesses about being judged negatively. (Even though deep down I knew that people had better things to do than think about it)! It didn’t help. I would analyse body language and a go over previous conversations, looking for signs that said person hated me.
Q. Do you remember how it made you feel at the time, before any help?
That I was a freak. A loser who couldn’t handle things that other ‘normal people could.
Q. When you first told people about what was going on how did they react? Did they realise something was going on?
They were shocked! I’m what you might call a ‘high functioning crazy!’ So it was a surprise for most people. But they were very supportive.
Q. When you went to the doctors about your anxiety what did you think of your treatment? Did they get it?
I could tell you a story about the doctor recommending that I try ‘Chamomile tea’ and the expletives I said to her in response! But I won’t…. I don’t blame GPs, they have ten minutes with each person, so diagnosis can be difficult. A lot of treatment was trial and error for me. Meds, therapy, exercise etc..
Q. How did it make you feel when you were given your diagnosis? Happy, Sad, Scared?
Relieved, because finally IT had a name. I wasn’t a freak, I had Social Anxiety Disorder.
Q. Can you remember a moment with your anxiety that, even though was tough, makes you laugh?
When I recognised a colleague in a very small Pret and rather than go over and make conversation I actually hid under the table ‘looking for my non-existent contact lenses!’
Q.What treatments were you offered and did they help you or did you have to find them yourself?
SSRI medication, which definitely helped but took a while to kick in. Exposure therapy, exercise and just good old fashioned ‘down time.’
Q. You have a book! We’re All Mad Here! What made you decide to write a book about Anxiety?
It was all very random to be honest. A publisher got in touch and asked if I’d like to turn my by then very successful blog into a book. To date I still can’t believe how many copies it’s sold! It makes me feel so proud and honoured.
Q. Do you think it helped you in a way? Writing and getting your story out?
In a word. YES. I always joke that I’m better on paper than in person, but it’s true! Writing helps me to express myself in more depth.
Q. Any plans for another book in the future?
Q. What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone struggling with anxiety?
DON’T KEEP IT A SECRET. You wouldn’t keep a broken bone a secret and the brain is no different.