Meet the local bookkeeper who learned to love a life less lived

Gail Marie Mitchell

A local bookkeeper has turned her hand to writing after being inspired to share her mental health journey, writes Bethan Tolley.

Gail Marie Mitchell, whose book titled ‘Loving the Life Less Lived’, was diagnosed with depression 25 years ago, and has lived with anxiety for much of her life, is now keen to share her story with others who have mental health issues.

The novel is the first from Gail, who lives in Gotham in South Nottinghamshire. The author may have her own business, Gail Mitchell: Business Support Services, but her debut novel is the first time she has stepped away from the numbers and embraced her love of writing.

Gail said: “I had always been good at writing, but I always thought that the only thing I was good at was being anxious. Then I thought, why not put the two together and write about anxiety.

Mental health charity Mind say that one in four people experience a mental health problem each year. Plus, there are those who are generally anxious or worried, but haven’t got a diagnosis. I thought, with what I have learned over 20 years, it could be of use to many people.”

Loving the Life Less Lived, which has been published by Red Door Publishing and will be released on January 26, will explain coping strategies to readers, as well as a range of tips and tools to use. Gail also shares her own experiences throughout the book and what she has learned from them.

Gail said: “I think it is an accessible read. I’m not telling people how to do things, but simply explaining what works for me and maybe it will work for them too.
“I want to get across the message that you are not alone. Mental health is very isolating, even now I know that it is very common, I often feel like I’m the only person in the world with it.

“I have been honest about some of my experiences, so hopefully many people will be able to identify with that. I also want to stress that it is OK not to be OK.”

Although Gail now has her own business, she found employers approach to mental health to differ at previous workplaces. She said: “Many of my previous employers were good with me, but some were diabolical.

“In previous workplaces, I had support workers, which was great as I would have someone to come along with me to difficult meetings. I think just having your colleagues understand that you have your strengths, but it is also OK to have some weaknesses. I think the biggest thing for me from employers has been acceptance and understanding.”

Although Gail often found her mental health issues exhausting and demoralising, she is now hoping that others will find her book incredibly helpful and she plans on writing many more books based on mental health.

Gail said: “People’s approach to mental illness has changed in recent years, but for the better. People talk about it a lot more and are more aware of it.
When I was first diagnosed with depression, I didn’t know anything about it. But now there is much more information out there for people.

“However, I do believe there is much more that needs to be done, especially in the workplace. If someone is in a wheelchair, they can build a ramp, but it is not always so easy to see how you can adapt to someone with mental health issues.”

Loving the Life Less Lived is released on 26 January.