I found a copy of an award-winning essay when I was looking amongst my paper documents. I thought it had been deleted forever. I wrote it when I was struggling with chronic physical and psychological pain. My diagnoses at the time were treatment resistant major depressive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia. Later changed to bipolar disorder (type 1), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, coeliac disease (after this essay). Plus various other health conditions.
I won third prize in an Australasian essay writing competition by The Black Dog Institute in 2008. My first and only trip to Sydney. I destroyed the trophy during a mania episode as I was disappointed getting third prize plus it had my former name on it. I had changed my name to Xanthe Wyse after more trauma.
Today, I was merchandising toys and stopped to stare for several seconds at a new shiny Thomas the Tank engine anniversary toy. My son was obsessed with Thomas when he was little. The metaphor in the essay was partly inspired by his love of trains. I have typed the essay below and also linked a video of me reading it out.
I wrote about burnout and a breakdown as a metaphor so no-one could be sure it was about me. Then I chose Xanthe Wyse as a blogging name (blogs deleted after making it my legal name). Xanthe was the start of me having a voice. Now, 12 years later, I've nearly finished my first novel, Pet Purpose.
Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her mental health diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).