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At this very moment, there’s two major events happening that I should be at. One is the third annual Mumsnet Blogfest in London (which I spoke at in 2012), a huge gathering of bloggers who have travelled from all over the country to network, learn and share information and the other is the Jack the Ripper Conference in Salisbury (which I spoke at in 2013), a huge gathering of Jack the Ripper researchers, who have travelled from all over the WORLD to network, learn and share information. I should be at both. I am at neither.

The reason for this is simple: I am depressed and my anxiety issues have worsened to the extent that I have panic attacks if I have to do anything more arduous than the daily school run, and even that is a hideous burden that I try to accomplish as quickly as possible, with my head down and earphones in so that I can get in and out of the playground as efficiently as possible. I don’t mean to be unfriendly but right now anything unexpected, like having to make small talk with someone I barely know or being delayed or being trapped in a tunnel is just too much for me to handle and will inevitably end in panic and tears. It’s even worse when I’m suffering one of my intermittent bouts of insomnia.

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I recently wrote about Juana of Castile on my Facebook page and was simultaneously saddened and heartened by the response. I mentioned in one comment that I suffer from severe depression and anxiety myself and other readers responded to say that they too feel the same way. I was surprised too – I suppose that I’d got so used to internalising my problems and resolutely not talking about them to anyone (no, not even my husband) that it was a bit of an overwhelming wake up call to be reminded that actually, no, I’m not alone and lots of you feel the same way.

People often tell me that they envy my life because I seem to get to do so many cool and amazing things, which I share here on my blog. I know that I am VERY fortunate and it is my absolute pleasure to share that with you guys as much as I can, but I suppose the flip side is that I should be more honest about how hard I find things too, that a lot of the time I very nearly don’t go to a lot of the events I feature because my anxiety overwhelms me so much. I do it though, because otherwise what would my life be? But it’s tough and often counter productive because I look at the sociable, cheerful, friendly way other bloggers and writers behave and feel like even more of a failure and social pariah – although you’d probably never know it to look at me.

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Anyway, there’s not really any point to this post other than to say that I’m struggling and that I’m here for those of you who are in the same miserable boat of woe.

And that next year I WILL be at Blogfest and Ripper Con as usual because I’m not going to let this illness set me back or defeat me any more.

Set against the infamous Jack the Ripper murders of autumn 1888 and based on the author’s own family history, From Whitechapel is a dark and sumptuous tale of bittersweet love, friendship, loss and redemption and is available NOW from Amazon UK, Amazon US and Burning Eye.

‘Frothy, light hearted, gorgeous. The perfect summer read.’ Minette, my young adult novel of 17th century posh doom and intrigue is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and is CHEAP AS CHIPS as we like to say in dear old Blighty.

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