Amid a mental health crisis in Northern Ireland, Ireland’s Big Issue spoke with Niamh Brownlee, who chronicled her experiences in a psychiatric unit in Struggling to Breathe.
During 2020’s first lockdown, Niamh Brownlee, from Carryduff, County Down, found the journal she penned in 2015 in a psychiatric hospital – and sought a publisher.
Brownlee was a 24-year-old primary school teacher when she was admitted to a mental health unit. She had struggled with her mental health since she was seven, but bulimia and acute depression surfaced while she was studying for her A-Levels. She spent the next six years restricting her calorific intake, then binging and purging – sometimes up to 30 times per day.