Anna Spargo-Ryan is highly regarded Melbourne-based writer and author who cut her teeth working in digital comms for The Australian Grand Prix and the long-running Aussie TV soap Neighbours.
Mum of two Anna had her first child when she was 20 and prior to her pregnancy had a psychosis where she was “really unwell”. For Anna her pregnancy and arrival of her baby represented some “some structure that I could understand in a world that had become very strange to me…”
Already living with depression and anxiety, Anna says that she assumed the existing conditions would “roll in all together” but says she was contending with “multiple symptomology” at one time that was different to what she’d experienced before.
Anna says: “The main feeling I had when they were small was that they deserved more than someone who was trying to figure it out as she went along…I felt that I didn’t have the skills to manage my own brain well enough for them to rely on me to take care of them, to be there for them. It really challenged my idea of what being there for someone was.”
Anna also shares honestly about mental health in her writing and also on social media, in particular Twitter, which can be a brutal space.
Anna finds Twitter a supportive place but knows that it’s not that way for everyone: “I’ve been lucky enough to meet people to help me better understand what mental illness is, to better understand what it means to be disabled…Twitter for me is a place that is full of kindness and people who are open to learning more…that’s not true of everyone’s experience though”.
You can find out more about Anna at her website https://blog.annaspargoryan.com/
Read Anna’s article "A tale of parenthood and mental illness" https://www.frankie.com.au/article/a-tale-of-parenthood-and-mental-illness-567844
Read Anna's Horne Prize winning essay "The Suicide Gene". https://www.thehorneprize.com.au/2016-winner
CONTENT NOTE: If you’ve been affected by anything you’ve heard in this episode you can phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or go to www.lifeline.org.au