The Funny Side of Being a Vulnerable Writer

How 26 letters helped save my life


In 2016 my world turned upside down. What ensued was something akin to a very dark comedy. And I was the hapless, down-on-his-luck lead character.

As anyone will know that has gone through an acrimonious divorce, it’s about as pleasant as having an enema, while the whole procedure is streamed live on social media; you know it needs to be done, but you can’t control who gets to see all the gritty details.

People say blood is thicker than water and that you can choose your friends, not your family. Well, guess what? That’s bullshit. Some people are just arseholes, plain and simple. Faster than my divorce attorney could cash my cheques, friends and family deserted me.

I’d gone from being an average Joe, with a family, house, job etc, to a bumbling nervous wreck. All within a matter of weeks.

On a daily basis, I nurse people that are acutely unwell. But, being a psychiatric nurse doesn’t stop you from becoming mentally unwell, no more than being an oncologist stops you getting cancer.

I got depression and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I experienced anxiety too. I then became suicidal.

So what did I do? I did what most people do in similar situations. I buried my head in the sand and hoped all my problems would go away.

It took me a while to get my shit together. How did I do it? I found something I love doing, something I am passionate about, something that helps me make sense of the world. I started writing.

As a writer, I don’t make lots of money. I’m no social media influencer. And I have no bulging email list. I’m as broke as the tooth fairy in a house full of meth users. I now view my bank statement as fake news. I have about as much influence as a sociologist in a room full of economists. And the only person on my email list is my mum!

However, writing not only keeps me contented, but it also keeps me alive. Due to my ongoing circumstances, aspiring to be happy is an unachievable goal. I am aware that this fragile stability can unravel at any time. But I take each day as it comes. I am grateful for each passing day. And I love and cherish those that are close to me. I am grateful for what I have. And I try my hardest not to ruminate on what I have lost.

My writing is an integral part of both the journey and the destination.

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that”

Robin Williams

Originally published in Medium publication ‘Invisible Illness‘ 13/09/19