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Writing About Mental Health Workshop with Helen Taylor

Friday 23rd September
11am - 12 noon BST

Pavilion, University of Aberdeen King's Campus 

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A workshop exploring the challenges and benefits of writing about oneself or one’s own experiences, especially with regard to mental health.

How do you write about being catastrophically unwell without either your clinical experience hijacking the situation or glossing over it, joking about it or just somehow not getting to the heart of it? It is often stressed that the process of writing is good for your mental health, but when it comes to writing about mental health, things become trickier… Is autobiography, life-writing, memoir, the way to go, or is it sometimes easier to write about mental health – your own or that of people close to you – in a fictional setting? Does humour help? Join writer Helen Taylor for a workshop addressing some of these themes and try some writing of your own.

Helen Taylor lives in France, and, in a previous life, trained as a doctor and worked as a research scientist. She knows more than is strictly necessary about the malaria parasite. Her first novel, The Backstreets of Purgatory, in which Caravaggio wreaks havoc in modern day Glasgow, was published by Unbound in 2018 and received multiple favourable reviews, even if her mum’s friends didn’t like the swearing.

In 2003, after a long history of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital with a life-threatening depression precipitated by the miscarriage of an IVF pregnancy. Her essay, Inside Ferguson House, published by Boundless in 2019, tells part of that story. It was met with such an overwhelming response from readers that she put aside her novel-in-progress to work on the full-length memoir.

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