Gemma Cairney | The Pool |In My Head | Mental Health |

by Antonia



Gemma Cairney recorded some insightful series of podcasts, titled ‘In My Head’ for a week. She spoke to six women about mental health. Gemma who is a Radio/TV Presenter (The Surgery on BBC Radio 1) shares her story that inspired her to do these podcasts:

“I grew up in a household where feelings were hot like fire, raw like fruit pulp. The house was made up of my mum, my sis and me. A house full of growing and experiencing females, all different in age and personality, but blended with family similarities. Mum: a defiant careerist, as sharp as she is sensitive; sister: three years my junior, so much gentler and subtler, in her approach, quietly sponge-soaking everything up; and myself: exceptionally outright, far too precocious for my own good, always asking questions and wanting to understand EVERYTHING about life. There were lots of arguments – some as big as lighting bolts; there were hard tears when times were tough, which they were quite a lot. We learnt that Mum was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), due to some unexpected tragedies she’d experienced along the way. I’m not painting the happiest of pictures, but I do cherish the lessons learned, the most important being the importance of talking. Talking about the the toughness was high on the agenda – feelings weren’t burrowed dangerously away.

|“PTSD  can occur after a significant incident that is out of the ordinary. A person involved in such an event might have witnessed an injury or death. You might have been in danger of this yourself. It could have been a large scale disaster, or a small but significant accident. For example: Being attacked or assaulted, a road traffic accident,  a house fire, an incident at work or a natural disaster.” | MoodJuice |

It is no surprise, on reflection, I’ve ended up doing what I do: this year is my seventh at the BBC, presenting various radio shows, and a few months ago I landed the role of presenting The Surgery on Radio 1. It is the network’s only speech-based, call-in radio show dedicated to talking about whatever is on listeners’ minds – what we are worried about, in an open forum, with the help of my co-presenter, Dr Radha. I believe in fun, I believe in music and friends, but I also believe so strongly in the power of accessible and frank discussion. This year, keen to experiment with making content as well as hosting it, I also started my own production company, Boom Shakalaka Productions. We made the Tales From Sierra Leone podcast for The Pool earlier this year.


Our first live project under the company has been taking on My Beautiful Black Dog, a performance piece written by one of my oldest friends, Brigitte Aphrodite. MBBD is essentially a musical about depression. We’ve just finished a 10-day run of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. While there, I investigated, and was drawn to, many other pieces of work also exploring mental health, from talking to Matt Haig about his book – a stunning and easy-to-read part memoir, part survival-tip book on life and his experience of depression, called Reasons To Live – to comedian Felicity Ward’s bounding and hilarious portrayal of her acute anxiety disorder and Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a stand-up show. There was lots more too – lots of art and expression delving into pits of fear and sadness. I’ve been going to the Fringe for years and have never been so moved. I was physically charged by how many people are ready to talk about toughness, ready to battle the stigma head on and normalise issues of mental health.

|“Three more years of depression followed. Panic, despair, a daily battle to walk to the corner shop without collapsing to the ground. But I survived. I am days away from being 38. Back then, I almost knew I wasn’t going to make it to 30. Death or total madness seemed more realistic. But I’m here. Surrounded by people I love. And I am doing a job I never thought I’d be doing. And I spend my days writing stories, that are really guide books, the way all books are guide books.”| Matt Haig | 

The Pool is opening up the conversation further this week and I’m excited to be involved – keeping our minds healthy is complex and individual to us all. It may not be a classified condition going on in your brain, but there are an overwhelming amount of fragments to try and keep in check, no matter how happy or successful you are. I’ve recorded a series of podcasts called In My Head, jumping into the minds of six different women coming at life from totally different perspectives, and asking their opinions and experiences of mental health, and not burrowing feelings dangerously away.

The In My Head podcasts will broadcast at 9pm every night this week, featuring Kate Leaver, Jude Kelly, Brigitte Aphrodite, Karen Blackett, Georgie Okell and Philippa Perry.” Gemma Cairney | The Pool | 24.08.15 |

To listen to all the podcasts please click here.

Do you care for a loved one(s) who has a mental health illness or if you think you may be getting symptoms? Please get in touch with Carers Trust’s Babble , Carers UK  or myself (Antonia : -) via email I am here to listen and help you out in any way i can. xo