“Dos and Don’ts For the Mentally Interesting”… on today at 2.15pm on Radio 4

Edit:  Hello Radio 4 listeners!

Anyhow, I was just unsubtly reminding you that the play is on this afternoon, at 2.15pm on Radio 4.  You can listen online, or catch up on BBC iPlayer.  I do think iPlayer can be accessed outside the UK.

(Listen again: here is a handy link)

It was Radio Choice in the Guardian today, and the Times, so that’s nice!  Although the Times review was strangely morbid…

Afternoon Play Radio 4, 2.15pm Seaneen Molloy describes herself on her sumptuously appointed MySpace page as “a tiny Irish writer” (she’s 4ft 9in). Since 2007 she has also written a blog called The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, parts of which have been adapted for Louise Ramsden’s play Do’s and Don’ts for the Mentally Interesting. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry,” Molloy (played by Séainín Brennan) writes in her first entry. “If you’re bipolar, you’ll probably do both at the same time.” And, yes, you laugh ? because when Molloy is up she can be very funny ? and you’re spared the really dark bits because when she is deeply depressed she can’t bring herself to write at all, she’s too busy trying to stop herself killing herself.

Just for the sake of journalistic integrity: I’m 4ft 11″, I gained two inches, which are very important as it means I’m nearly 5ft”, which is almost the size of a real person.

I’ll be listening with you (and my family), and will update this entry afterwards to say hello to people who’ve drifted across!  I hope people like it and find it helpful/hopeful/funny/deplorable/erotic etc…

You can read this if you like– it’s about the play and contains some background information that explains some things and puts others into context.  The Posts I Want You To Read page is also a good place to waste an hour…

Edit- slightly embarrassing emotional blathering and thanks…

 Bloody hell, this is surreal!  It’s a parallel universe version of me and Rob!  I’m listening to it via my Sky box and Lou and I have our names on the screen.  Some of it is quite painful, so, yeah, it has been a bit difficult at points.   Parts about our dad made me tearful, but I’m glad he’s in there, that people know he existed.  I’d been texting my big sister Paula the whole way through who was reassuring me, as well as laughing at me and Rob.

My mum rang me in tears saying she was proud of me and now I’m all weepy.  I think I’ve made my mum cry about three times in my life.  She’s been in Belfast all this time and hasn’t even known some of what went on.  So that’s what has made me a bit, well, weepy.  I was partly dreading it because I couldn’t quite bring myself to listen to it in its entirety before, because it’s close enough to reality to be upsetting, so it was somewhat emotional hearing it properly.

Many many thanks to Louise Ramsden.  She is a brilliant writer, so thanks to her for being so completely respectful, supportive and genuinely being totally ace.   It is her play.  Also a billion thanks to Fiona Kelcher, the producer, who wanted to do the play in the first place and whose sensitive handling of the issue was the reason that I agreed to it. She has also been fantastic and lovely and so have  the cast, especially Seainin- right, will stop the speech now.  But we got a shite AND a bollocks on Radio 4 after the Archers! Hurrah!

Obviously some people won’t like it which is okay, but I hope some find this helpful and that they identify with it, and that they find it in some way hopeful.  And that it does help get the idea out there that people with mental illness are just people, and that the experience of living with it is a human one.  And thank you for listening.  (And thank you to the people who read and comment, too).

Anyway, blathering over!

One more thing- my psychiatrist knows that this play has been broadcast.  I anticipate a little something extra in my next prescription.

66 Responses

  1. Listening now and I’ve got to say that I’m enjoying it it a lot more than most of the programming on R4. Got it playing on three different radios so I don’t miss any of it.

    I’m glad that the issues contained are being adressed, mental illness isn’t spoken about enough.

    • Excellent play would love a copy as I work as a mental health social work trainer. It gives a very real insight into how a person with mental illness experiences life. Any thoughts on whre I could get a copy?

    • Seanean, What an awesome play🙂 Both times I listened to it over here in Western Canada I just felt so much LESS alone. Thank you for that. I love your writing too ~ xx

  2. Listening in my kitchen – a really great production.

    All sorts of emotions about a topic i don’t know much about … I shed a tear when Kate Bush came in on the sound track… really good stuff

  3. good show.

    not enough people hear these afternoon plays

  4. I’ve just finished listening to it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It brought me to tears at one point but also made me smile at times. Thank you.

  5. Hi Seaneen

    So glad I was off work today to be able to catch the play – first time I’ve ever listened to one on the radio.

    It was fantastic – they should incorporate it into the training materials for mental health professionals. The bit about Rob at the end is exactly how I feel about my husband.

    It was such a good insight into your experiences and I really hope your blog gets made into a book, you have such a talent.

  6. Just like Martin I’ve been listening in my kitchen and just like him I started welling-up when Kate Bush was played.

    I am currently receiving treatment for depression and anxiety and could relate to a lot of the emotions, thoughts and behaviours you were talking about. Thank you for making this subject so much more accessible and raising awareness of mental health.

    You’re right, I cried, laughter and the play touched me deeply. Thank you.

  7. Seaneen….It was excellent. I cried and I laughed! Feel so proud to be a reader here. You should be really proud of the play🙂

    I was really touched!

    Love Helena

  8. Just finished listening to this play, stumbled upon it by accident. I thought it was very honest and truthful and didn’t sugar coat the situation.
    My dad suffered with severe mental illness for 10 years before he passed away in 2006. My parents lost nearly all their friends when my Dad was ill, people just don’t understand mental illness, they are scared of it.
    Plays like this help people who are suffering in the same way as you are to know that they are not the only ones feeling like that…

  9. Seaneen, you were totally right – I have both laughed and cried listening to your story this afternoon, a thousand thanks for your honesty and humour. I was particularly sympathetic to your response to the idea that our health is all a matter of ‘attitude’ – I’m sorry to tell you that when I was a chronically ill teenager I used to catch that crap too, and I heartily wish I had had the energy and courage to punch the purveyors of that assinine worldview firmly in the mouth. If you ever have the opportunity to do so, I for one will be cheering😉 Take care of yourself and keep writing!😀

  10. Have just been transfixed for the last 3/4 hour listing to ‘The Do’s & Dont’s …’. Thought it was absolutely amazing – smiled and wailed all the way through! Have suffered with depression since I was about 16 (nearly half my life) and have been a carer for both the mother of my ex-fiancee and my ex-fiancee, so know both sides pretty well by now. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your world – it’s strangely positive being able to share dark depths. Thanks again🙂

  11. Thought it was fantastic, I was diagnosed 12 years ago when I was 43, having been ill on and off since I was 17. I cried – about the relationship with Rob, because that’s just how I feel about my partner.
    I emailed my psychiatrist to tell him to make the med students listen to it.
    The psychiatrist asking all those pat questions…. my GP is like that and I wonder sometimes whether I should just write down the answers to the usual 5 questions or so. I’ve only had one GP who asked the really important questions…. like “how much are you drinking?”
    I’m lucky in that I’ve been employed continuously, with one 6 month period off work, half of that in hospital.

    Brilliant play – will tell my siblings to listen to it too.

  12. Hi, I’m from Taiwan. also listening now .
    I think you are really pretty.
    I tried to kill myself few years ago n’ still feel suicidal sometimes, but keep telling myself that if i did it my grandma will be sad. (not very close to my parents)
    Struggling betwen sanity and insanity agonize me.
    It’s not very common for people to see psychiatrist in Taiwan. I hate dotors anyways, so I’ve never had any treatments.
    I dunno why I’m saying this. wish I would know what I can do with my life. Still fighting with the bad mood.
    anyways…
    Wish you all the best. : )

  13. That was awesome. I was driving and got home half way through but had to just sit in the car listening till it was finished. Congrats to radio 4 for programming something really meaningful. My father was a manic depressive (as we called it then) and died when I was 13. This was so beautifully written. Congratulations – I see the comments are flooding in and all positive. You bloody deserve them. Will follow this blog from now on.

  14. I somehow managed to post this on a 2 year old entry so I’m reposting it here.

    Hello!

    I heard the dramatisation of this on radio 4 today. My girlfriend is going through something very similar to you. I try help her however I can. Hearing your perspective helped me a lot. Thank you.

    I hope you are doing OK

  15. Well, it was great. :o)

  16. Furthermore, I’m a med student interested in Psychiatry – God help me if I ever end up like one of those terrible wooden robotic drone-psychiatrists you describe and that I’ve personally had to deal with whilst dragging my suicidal girlfriend through various urgent referrals. May I never do as one of them did when told that she’d tried to hang herself with a pair of tights and ask “did you dangle?”. As if there’s some suicidal ideation dangling criterion that one must pass to be truly suicidal. “Dr, We have a patient who just tried to hang herself” “Did she dangle?” “Well the tights stretched and her feet touched the floor” “Ooh, close one, but no dangling no action I’m afraid, tell her to fuck off.”

  17. You must feel 10′ tall today.

  18. caught the play by pure luck – it was excellent – it should be repeated hourly !!!

  19. I’m so glad I stumbled onto the R4 play – I was intending to park up for a little snooze.

    Mental illness so needs to be brought out of the closet and the ‘Victorian’ stigma done away with. Many of my co-workers come out with jibes like “just another psycho nutter case” when dealing with mentally ill patients. You’d think ambulance people would know better – many do, but there’s a lot who still see people like you and me (bipolar too) as an inconvenient, time wasting, pains in the arse.

    The music thing is great at times – I have a soundtrack playing in my head most of the time, particularly when I wake up. The really odd thing is it’s music I don’t know that well or even like. Weird stuff like christmas carols, Vera Lynn, Abba and a couple of days ago Three Little Pigs (swine ‘flu?) I keep telling myself I should make a playlist, but like the ‘mood chart’ it’s the path of good intentions that leads to…

    Keep up the good work!

    Peace & love Kev

  20. First heard about you on ‘All in the Mind’ I think.? Was trying to find your blog but couldn’t until I found the Radio 4 listing. Sadly missed it this afternoon but will catch up on IPlayer and look forward to reading your archive. I have a brother who is bi-polar and I’m sure it’ll help me to understand him better.

  21. I honestly thought I was going to listen to it and dislike it.

    I like radio plays and was a big Archers fan for a while but I didn’t think the blog would fit the format.

    I was wrong. It was really well done. And I will be listening again.

  22. Hi,

    I cought this play by accident today and I have sat reading though some of your posts ever since. thank you I think you are an inspiration. I am someone who has suffered with severe depression but (touch every piece of wood in the house) currently ok, my best friend has recently been diagnosed with bi polar disorder and for my sins I am training to be a mental health nurse. I thank you for your eloquent, funny sad and fascinating insights into your world.

  23. Congratulations! Very moving in places. Will listen again.

  24. Hi Seaneen, I was glued to my radio set as promised and basked in your reflected glory to my heart’s content. I thought Louise’s work, as you say, more than did justice to your story. The whole thing worked so well and I would have been equally blown away by it even if I hadn’t been lucky enough to ‘know’ you online.

    The bit about your dad, and the use of the Kate Bush song, was incredibly moving. I felt I got more of an idea of how you and Rob are as people. This play is MOST USEFUL as a consciousness raiser around mental health…I want to send the link to all my family!!!

    This has got to take you to a new level in raising your profile too. I’m sure something else will come out of it, and that you are destined for great things babe. A huge achievement, thank you to everyone involved, and hurrah for Radio 4! Zoe xxxxx

  25. […] while listening to the rather excellent Radio 4 play based on Seaneen’s blog. Details here if you’d like to give it a […]

  26. I stumbled on the play by accident and found it so moving (agree with the others about Kate Bush – I don’t often find myself crying when listening to Radio 4).

    Your honesty and courage are truly inspiring. What a great way to help people understand the issues. I’m a counsellor in training and will be recommending this blog and the play to my fellow students.

  27. Oh Seaneen, it was heartrending and heartwarming at the same time. You should be really proud of yourself for writing the blog in the first place and agreeing to the play being written and performed. It should be compulsory listening for psychiatrists, GPs and all involved in working with the mentally ill. It shows that those of us who have mental illness are people too, and have the right to be treated as human beings and not as objects to be ignored or treated like dirt. Keep writing the blog, keep loving Rob, and keep telling everyone how it really is. I’m going to write about the play on my blog and tell any of my readers who don’t know about it that it is something that they really should listen too.

  28. I loved the play, Seaneen. Bloody brilliant. I had tears in my eyes during the bits about your Dad.

  29. Hello , Seanean: Loved the radio play ,excellent and , moving .
    and as a cpn myself I found the scenes where you tried to joke with the psychiatrist hilarious.The system can be dehumanising but many of us within struggle to oppose this.
    Your blog has become a real hit: congratulations ……..!

  30. Seaneen, it was fantastic. I sobbed with you (or the actress anyway) and I’m so glad that your suicide attempts were unsuccessful. Your Dad could never be disappointed in you, he would be very very proud.

  31. Re. your last post – both you and Rob are beautiful and I’m about to catch up and listen-again to the play right now. I’m sure it will be just as if not more wonderful than all the above spoilers suggest.
    Fanfare, applause… Oscars and mores…
    K.x

  32. Fantastic. Just fantastic.

    Your Dad WOULD be proud of you.

  33. “Normal” person here (h’yeah right) who caught it by chance.

    Cried and laughed – that caught me off-guard.

    Love your writing style here.

    Contrary to common perceptions, R4 plays often feature swear words, particularly on Saturday’s for some reason – a time when kids aren’t even in school!

  34. Raved about you on my blog some more too Seaneen. I won’t rest until you’re more famous than…er (runs out of words under pressure of speech). The play has really made my day and helped inspire me on the good fight against stigma and discrimination.

  35. That was great. It hit some nerves here, too.
    xx

  36. Seaneen, that was just brilliant. So sad in parts, you are amazing. You should be so proud of yourself.
    Lauren xx

  37. Aha, I’ve been looking forward to that! Just listened to it on iPlayer. It’s brilliant, love the tips. (Going to try and squeeze a diagnosis out of them myself soon… eek!)

  38. It broke my heart. But in a good way. Well done mate it was beautiful.

    Lola x

  39. Wow, I am floored by that play. Very inspirational.

    If you were a few inches taller, Rob might not be able to keep you in line. So lets be thankful your not.

    Got me to wondering who you’d pick to play you and Rob if it ever hit the big screen ? (I figure on the big screen you just might hit 10ft tall!)

  40. Well done Seaneen, it was very touching. I must admit I was nervous too about how the Afternoon Play style would handle your material, but they did a good job. Take care, you and Rob too, Dx

  41. I’m so incredibly proud of you Seaneen… I’ve been lurking on your blog for ages, having been originally assessed for bipolar/BPD and then having been diagnosed with C-PTSD and all the depression/anxiety related problems instead!

    Your recent trauma touched me no end, as I can’t have children myself. But even with that in mind, you so did the right thing. The effects on you due to childbirth could have been horrific, and they would have had an influence on your child too.

    Having had a miscarriage in years gone by I can relate to the loss you and Rob are feeling. You have absolutely no reason to feel guilty. You did the right thing for everyone at the time. One thing I’m thankful for is the fact that yu have each other. You seem so close.🙂

    Anyway, onto more cheerful stuff – I really am proud of you – your writing is all over the net and finally you are getting some recognition for all of your hard work (and let’s face it, sometimes blogging IS hard work, even if people don’t admit it!) To get radio exposure for a play based on your life is an amazing achievement. Thank you for raising awareness for mental illness in general and bipolar disorder in particular. The world needs more Seaneens.🙂

    Oh and totally unrelated – I’m a composer and I listened to Rob’s stuff – pretty damn good ain’t he!

    Hugs to you both
    Bex.
    x

  42. This play was amazing!! I never listen to the radio, but my dad mentioned it, I am suffering from Clinical Depression, and have for 3 year, it was a great play and i will probably now be a regular visitor to your wen page;-)
    I laughed, well at least smiled inside at some!! Its so true and hopefully for someone who has never suffered will give them an insight, hopefuuly my dad took note, although i doubt it, well done and thanx xx

  43. Brilliant!

    As a recovering alcoholic myself I love that you saw your dad as a lovely but ill man, who loved you very much & was there for you. It’s sad when people don’t get better, I’m one of the lucky ones.

    You’re such an inspiration, I related to much of the feelings & really admire you! You’ve helped so many people!

    I was chatting to a few friends tonight, one of which has bi-polar, the other depression, so they’re gonna listen on I player.

    x

  44. I’m writing this comment without having read the other comments yet, coz there are so many🙂, so apologies for any repetition.
    I did listen to the play and I wholeheartedly enjoyed it. It was strangely nice to hear what your accent may sound like (I haven’t a clue about accents) and also how Seaneen is pronounced.
    Also the play had lots of humour, which helped temper the more serious side of it.
    Louise x

  45. >Just for the sake of journalistic integrity: I’m 4ft 11″, I gained two inches, which are very important as it means I’m nearly 5ft”, which is almost the size of a real person.

    This made me grin. I was just under 5 ft at 30 and i grew 2 inches over the next two years and then last month i suddenly (at the age of 38) grew another two inches and I am now proud to be 5 ft 4″.

    You blog is very thought provoking and I’m glad that the BBC aired your play. Raising awareness is so important in the fight to get better care and to educate ‘the public’ that mentally illness does not define a person.

  46. Listened before bed last night. Was fantastic stuff – really quality and brought both chuckles and tears. Brilliant!

  47. Seaneen.
    I’ve just listened and laughed and cried.
    My partner committed suicide a couple of years ago and one of my friends has suffered from serious depression for many years.
    This play should be compulsory listening for..for everyone.
    Keep going.
    Bringing mental illness out of the closet vital. And this does it.
    Well done.

  48. I’ve just heard it. It has been a really boring Saturday and I wasn’t expecting much to happen until I (maybe) go to the pub later.

    I was worried that I wouldn’t like it but had promised to myself: if it’s rubbish, just say nothing.

    I thought it was really excellent. Great use of your writing and the music made it transcendent.

    When it began I thought “OK, I know all this about Seaneen from reading the blog” and I felt it might feel somewhat stale as a fairly long time reader. But after five minutes or so I was learning lots of new things, so it became entirely fresh.

    For example, I had no idea about the Bowie song at your father’s funeral and it’s a song I love too. I’m a big fan of that Bowie era.

    There were at least four moments when shivers ran up my spine. Not in a “horror movie” way. More like those times when two things happen together that match perfectly, say seeing someone in the street and music spilling out of a pub that you’re walking past and you make a strange connection.

    I’m very proud of you. I know many times you begin your posts with “I’m not feeling like writing at the moment”. And I’d be the last to say you should post when you hate to. But it’s so wonderful that so many times you have written and this great play is one result of that.

    I think I’ve said before… you say your “ambition” is to be a writer. You ARE a writer. The money should follow. It really should.

    Oh, and five stars for getting Vivian Stanshall mentioned.

    I raise a glass to you, to Rob, to Stanshall and Bowie. There. What fine company you’re in.

  49. Oh. I forgot to say: do you have a copy from the BBC? I think you may have mentioned that they gave you a CD but I’m not sure.

    You may decide you want to ask permission from the BBC to be able to host the play on your site as an mp3.

    If you don’t have a copy I should be able to get someone to grab a copy so long as it is still up on iPlayer. My computer won’t do it (it’s a sound card issue) but I have a network of friends and one of them would be able to grab it.

    Reply here if you want me to arrange that. I’ve set this to give me email notification of further comments, so if you post I should get it.

  50. Driving up the M1 listening, eventually had to pullover to give it the attention it deserved. Really good play (from one who hates radio plays).

  51. Thank you for this so much. Until recently I thought I’d completely accepted my manic depression, back when I only took two tablets and had never been truly manic.

    Now that I take an assortment of mood stabilisers and have been hospitalised for a true manic episode I find it hard to accept. Every day I stare at my pills and have to decide to take them.

    Again, thank you for this, you said what I wanted to say but so much better (as you always do).

  52. Hi,

    Been reading your blog for a while now but for some reason don’t think I’ve ever commented. Listened to the play on Friday and just wanted to say congratulations!

  53. Hi
    Congratulations. I have listened to the play twice already and it was amazing. Thank you.
    Does anyone know how to save a copy to a computer or is there any other way of gettiong a copy? There are various people I want to listen to it but its only available on the BBC website for a week.
    Thanks for any help
    Rebecca

  54. One method you can try to use to record the play is to download a free program called ‘Audacity’ (Google and ye shall find).

    On the toolbar there’s a little drop down menu and it *may* have an entry called “What U Hear”. This will then record (once you click the record button) any sound your computer makes, including the play if you have it running. It will also record any other noises that your computer makes during this time, such as incoming mail notifications, which can be a little annoying.

    However, whether you have the “What U Hear” option depends on what sound card you have. My old computer had it but the one I have now does not, so I can’t do it.

    If I were able I would have recorded it and put the file up on some web space and provided a link. But it’s no go with my current machine.

    I’m sure there are other ways of doing it but I don’t know them.

  55. Wow, I managed to concentrate on this (in two sessions- still not good enough for 45 minutes uninterrupted) and it was excellent. Some of the things you were describing hit very close to home.

    Are you stealing my inches? I’ve lost three in the last few years (gone from 6’1″ to 5’10”) and am still shrinking. That said, you could have another 4 of them, and I’d be happy🙂

    Well done again. You’re an excellent writer, and it translated well into the radio play.

  56. Never commented on here before but am an avid reader and just had to say Congratulations. I have just managed to hear the play on iplayer and thought it was just brilliant.
    The bits that got me the most for some reason were the short interactions with the man in the shop when buying milk. Ouch!
    You have done such a lot by bringing this to wider attention, much applause x

  57. good on you girl. i try to survive like stephen fry says by living in r4 i was so so glad to hear the play it helped babe and that was a godsend keep it up your magic

  58. I just finished listening to the play – it was wonderful, had me laughing and crying. I’m going to mop myself up now so I can do some work. Congratulations. XXX

  59. I still haven’t heard it😦 *sob*. Will get on iplayer as soon as I’m somewhere where I can listen. I hope you are getting lots of new readers as a result and feeling proud of yourself. Take care!! xxx

  60. I finally got to listen to the play this afternoon.

    The first part about diagnosis made me cry. It reminded me of my diagnosis and reminds me of what I am going through right now.

    It all just rings so true and reminds me just why I’ve been reading your blog for so long. It was weird to hear bits that I had read months and months ago, read out on the radio. It must be even weirder for you, Seaneen, to hear your own words.

    The bit about your dad dying made me cry. It reminded me of the acute liver failure of my partner’s father. The simpsons line, especially.

    The line about laughing and crying if you’re a manic depressive like you of course were very true.. I mainly cried but there were plenty of laughs too. I’m just sat here in tears now, writing my reply to you.

    The bits about your relationship with Rob especially rang true for me. I’ve been struggling with the effects of this illness on my relationship with my partner over the past few months and it was interesting to be reminded of how you readdressed the balance in your relationship. Perhaps moving out is not feasible for me, but it does need to become more balanced. The line about suicide being a lodger and the spiky sea urchin never going away, seem bleak, but true. I just hope my partner will agree to listen to some of this, as your words may help him to realise what life with this shitty illness is really like and how relationships can work despite all of this.

    I hope you are proud of yourself and what you have created with this blog. I am thinking of you. xx

  61. you’re famous now! I see a career in advocacy and after dinner speaking in your future my dear.

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