Author has written 11 stories for Scott & Bailey, Caroline In The City, and Switched at Birth.
I am a 27-year-old Norwegian girl who lives in London, studying music.
Life is hard. It has always been hard. I've struggled with mood swings and impulse control my whole life, but it was never voiced, never seen. There was no real name for it. There were words, like "impossible", "brat" and "bad-tempered", but it never went much deeper than that. Most people didn't look beyond the surface, and those who did had no idea what they were looking at. And how could they? I was a confusing person.
Going into my teenage years, my mood swings became violent, with frequent anger outbursts and several days of darkness and indifference. For every year that passed, it seemed to get even harder to cope with life. But I soldiered on, at war with MYSELF most of the time, until I fell completely apart about four years ago. I could no longer hide it. The depression became so overwhelming that one very important person finally noticed: my singing teacher at university sat me down one day and talked me into seeing a doctor. Over the next few months I tried a few different antidepressants before finding one that worked for me, and my mood started to improve. For a couple of months I felt pretty great. Life seemed brighter, somehow. And then the antidepressants stopped working, and the next stop was the psychiatrist's office. Almost a year after first asking for help, I received a proper diagnosis: bipolar disorder.
My story isn't completely out of the ordinary. While most people develop bipolar disorder in their late teens or early twenties, and not during childhood like I did, about two percent of the population will be diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. It's a complex matter, because the bipolar spectrum is quite vast, but the main thing to keep in mind is that it happens, and it's something we, as a society, need to become more aware of. We need to open our eyes. We need to stop judging based on what we see on surface level. Life is intricate and full of grey areas that people tend to avoid. We don't know how to deal with the things we are uncomfortable with, so we look the other way. I wish we could stop doing that.
The world of fiction has always been my escape from reality during times that were hard; it felt good to escape my depressed reality in exchange for a fictional alternative. At times I'm convinced it actually kept me alive, because it took me out of my own thoughts, at least for a little while. My own life became completely uninteresting to me.
Today I am on medication, which has stabilised me, and I am seeing a therapist, but being bipolar means that I will forever be in "recovery" - there is no cure. I have realised that life is what it is, and even if it seems too heavy and impossible to carry on at times, I still do, and I think it's because I have realised that if I don't, how can I expect change? The change I want to see has to start somewhere, and I'm going to do my part. I want to make a difference, by writing something that grabs people's attention. I want to put the spotlight on people's emotions and the complexities of the human mind. It's what I seek to do with my fanfic writing, and it's what I ultimately want to do by writing a novel. I want to illustrate the psychological impact of bullying, which I experienced as a teenager, and the despair of mental illness. I want to demonstrate cause and effect, and how life evolves with each and every turn we take. I want to tell stories that show the world that life cannot be simplified. I want to reach into people's souls and leave my prints on them.
I often find myself drawn to characters that are unusual; characters that struggle with inner demons, or perhaps have a dark side. It doesn't necessarily have to be obvious, because in life, it usually isn't. It's about looking for subtle hints; about knowing what to look for. With fiction, I find myself analysing and over-analysing certain aspects, because I believe that fiction is a great way for a creative mind to reach an audience; there is so much human spirit in it. Some people say it's not real, and that it's pointless to look that far into it, but to those who have said to me, "It's just fiction, you know," or something similar, I say, "No, it isn't. It's life. It's not YOUR life, but it's life, and it is trying to communicate with you. If you can't see that, fair enough, but don't patronise me for seeing the importance of it and the beauty in it." Art, in any shape or form, is important. It has so much to say.
My list of favourite TV shows and movies is very long, but lately I have mainly been obsessed with Caroline in the City and Scott & Bailey. Complex characters like Gill Murray and Richard Karinsky draw me in and captivate me, and their relations with the people around them are significant in so many ways. And then you begin to peel away the layers of those other characters as well. Caroline Duffy is adorable, perky and always optimistic, but she's also that little girl who never felt quite good enough, and the daughter who feels like she continues to disappoint her parents. She's a hopeless romantic, but she is conflicted by the idea of being independent and successful on her own. She's very easy to fall in love with.
I like to describe emotions, and fanfiction allows me to do that, and in addition to that I can express the love I have for these characters whose feelings I have spent so much time with.
Favourite TV shows:
Guilty pleasure: Faking It
I also love theatre, and musicals in particular. Favourites include:
I love books as well, but because I've struggled with depression for so many years, my cognitive abilities aren't what they used to be anymore. I can't read very fast, and I get tired very easily. It's frustrating, but I do have periods where I can get into a book. I love the Bridget Jones books, I've read the first two multiple times, and I also love The Bell Jar, Tipping the Velvet, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Hours, and When God Was a Rabbit.
Julie Ann Pope (94)