By Mhairi Taylor
Key Themes: Depression, Mental Health, Illustration, Recovery
Locked In Looking Out is the story of a lifelong battle with depression. Illustrated by the author’s own artwork, it is an articulate and often humourous account of mental health provision in 1990s Scotland. Through letters written at the time, it details the worst years of Mhairi Taylor’s life. Often harrowing, Locked In Looking Out documents a time when Mhairi was in and out of hospitals and her moods seemed out of control. It tells of Mhairi’s slow progress towards, if not complete recovery, at least a more settled life in the present day.
About the Author
Born in Edinburgh in 1970, Mhairi Taylor has suffered from a depressive mood disorder from her early teenage years. More than a decade later, after several years in and out of hospitals, she was eventually diagnosed as bipolar. Mhairi has also had long-term problems with alcohol abuse but now lives, for the most part, a reasonably settled and sober life, still in Edinburgh, with her cat.
Starting at the beginning...
If Tuesday’s child is full of grace then I’ve been inappropriate from the day I was born. To be fair I wasn’t due for six more weeks, but a little high blood pressure on my mother’s routine check-up meant that I was rent from my cosy womb earlier than expected. I was tiny. The only clothes that fitted me were two dolls’ cardigans knitted by my parents’ neighbour. Alone in an incubator for the first month and a half of my life – boxed off from reality and contact – is it any wonder how I turned out?
I have very few memories of childhood, and those I do have are of occasions when I was humiliated or undermined. I was three and told off for talking – admittedly I was wandering off on my own on a family holiday and chattering to strangers at the bar in a strange precedent to my later life. I was five and afraid of the school bell. I was seven and wet myself in the classroom. I was nine and stung by a bee that crawled into my swimsuit one long, hot, summer’s day. I was 11 and a prefect and, on opening the door to tell the younger kids to stop throwing snowballs, got one in the eye. On the other hand: I was seven and praised for my artwork. I was eight and helped pick ice balls off the teacher’s dog. I was nine and the summer days were long and hot. The neighbourhood kids all used to play in the street and up in the woods – climbing trees, building gang huts, jumping the burn. The boy across the road and I used to build ‘inventions’ which usually involved having a bucket of water tipped on me...
Even then I had good years and bad years. Primaries 1, 3, 5 and 7 were bad, while 2, 4 and 6 were good. Then I went to high school. The first year was fairly unremarkable. Mallen and I burnt our biscuits. New friendships were forged, old (or rather, younger) friendships faded. I did well. I was good at every subject and I was popular and bright although, at the same time, when the prefects came to talk to us I just could not picture ever being as old as 16 – I couldn’t believe that I would ever make it to such an age. Four more years seemed an overwhelmingly long time. We moved to a brand new high school when I went into second year. Again I excelled at everything. I had many friends and no enemies. Top girl in my year, smart without being a geek, creative and sensitive. ‘Sophisticated’, an English teacher wrote on one of my report cards. I was always picked second for sports after Gillian, who went on to play football for Scotland. All was going well.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 18 July, 2012.