Andrew has recently published his debut mental health poetry book (Un)limited by the mind. We caught up with Andrew and asked him a few questions about the important work he is doing to raise awareness of OCD and mental health more generally.
Please could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm Andrew and I'm thirty years old. I love to write. I brought out my debut mental health poetry book (Un)limited by the mind this year and will send off my crime book to publishers next year. I help run an online mental health group and just try to raise awareness about mental health in any way I can.
What inspired you to write the book?
I started writing maybe seven years ago, when I was still in a major battle with my OCD and anxiety, but had started making some progress. It was a way to let my emotions out and express myself, when I felt like very few people around me understood my problems. About three years ago when I felt like I had come a long way, I decided I would use my experiences to show people that their problems can be reduced and managed and that they are not alone. Fortunately nowadays, there are more ways to get support with mental health, but when I was diagnosed with my OCD about eight years ago, I felt I could only talk to my therapist and one friend who had suffered from OCD from a young age. I wanted mental health to be more openly talked about, even though it can be tough to open up. That way, maybe people wouldn't feel as alone as I did. I wanted to combine honesty and hope in my writing, so people could relate, but also see that their problems can get better. People can tell when something comes straight from the heart and can sense the power behind the message. My writing comes straight from the heart and I hope it will help give people some motivation and help them open up about their problems.
Do you find writing poetry is helpful in any way to your own mental health?
Writing poetry has been great for my mental health. For different reasons as time has went by. When my problems were at their worst, it was my way of letting out my emotions when they got really intense and it kind of helped lift a weight off my shoulders. Not everybody will have a friend who can understand their problems, so writing for me meant I didn't have to keep my problems inside. As my problems got better, my writing became about helping people and raising awareness and that in itself helped because I felt I was starting to make a difference and was raising awareness. Knowing that my work has at least helped a few people, has put a smile a smile on my face and means I have turned my negative experiences into something positive.
What has the feedback from the book been like so far?
People have been very complimentary about my poetry and have spoken about how honest and powerful my work is, as well as that it offers a lot of hope. People's kind words and messages that my poetry helps them, keeps inspiring me to share my experiences and trying to raise awareness. It is especially my support on Instagram that made me decide to publish my poetry book through Amazon. People's kindness has also made me feel like I'm helping raise mental health awareness and that and helping people, is what I've wanted to do since first posting my poetry.
What is your favourite poem from the book and why?
I mean everybody will have poems in the book that they will connect to more than others, but for me personally, attack and create a spark are two of my favourite poems. Attack talks about how you can't stand still and that no matter how tough it may be to move, you have to make a change otherwise it will just paralyse you. Seeking help and opening up is essential for you to get your life back under control. Create a spark talks about accepting that we can't control everything and as control is such a big issue with OCD, we have to embrace life's unpredictability and realise many of the things that happen in life, are out of our control. Once you can make some changes to your mindset, it can create a spark and give you the motivation you need to start moving forward and change your life. It can give you your freedom back.
If you'd like to see a copy of this book, it is available on Amazon.
Andrew's poetry can also been seen on his Instagram account.