Stephen Hawking on Depression, “The Black Hole”

Real hero gone this week. Absolute idol of mine (And I know he is important to SO many of us!), in so many different ways.

Obviously his triumph with his physical health is timelessly inspiring. And not just triumphing over physical health, but then contributing the immense amount that he did to contemporary Physics on top of it.

Forgive my ignorance of the intricacies of his Science, I’m afraid I can offer less than zero insight on that…

But aside from these immense achievements, I stumbled upon something else. Turns out his brilliance even touched into the world of mental health, with something beautiful he said in a lecture in London in January 2016.

Drawing parallels between black holes and depression, Hawking said:

“The message of this lecture is black holes aren’t as black as they are painted.  They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought.

Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there’s a way out.”

The “black hole” is a phrase often thrown around in relation to depression, so I love how he has turned it in this way. Just as he smashed expectations of his own health, here he smashed the conception that there’s no way out of the black hole.

So I think, the time has come where we don’t have to be scared of the black hole. It may be dark, but there is a way out, and it will come.

For me there’s another layer to this metaphor, as just as physics daily disproves and proves and discovers and educates, medicine in mental health improves constantly. The further it advances, the ways out of our black holes will be clearer and clearer.


To a hero of mine, and of the world.

Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018)

Big love


P.S: Sorry one more thing people, I just found out he said a couple of years ago he wanted to play a bond villain because he thought his voice and chair would fit the part.

I genuinely could not love this man more.

Anna’s Story

This is a beautiful story from Anna, honest about the adversities we can face, but with an inspiring turnaround and positive outlook.

Anna’s page can be found here: I urge everyone to give it a read, fantastic content up there.

At 15 Anna was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety disorders. This started a journey of many years of very frequent hospital visits, sometime with just a week or two break between each. School and college became unmanageable, and Anna wondered if she would ever break this cycle and live a normal life. Fortunately one of the hospitals she often visited had a good support team to keep her just about coping.

Moving on from this however left Anna much more alone. After a brief time at a grocer’s as a cashier, it was decided that Anna would have to live in a group home for the moment. There were twelve others in this home, and to me it seemed as though this might have been helpful. Unfortunately, it was not at all, with Anna not even being paid minimum wage (no doubt from some form of discrimination), and earning just $5 some days, and being forced to do ALL the chores for the house some weeks. In other words, extremely detrimental to her health.

However, after six years of this Anna’s parents moved to South Carolina and Anna was able to go with them. This was when things started improving. Anna told me that she found a good therapist and doctor, and was able to start living in her own accommodation with her own space. She discovered meditation, as well as distraction techniques such as puzzles to aid her in focusing on the present moment. She is in much greater control of her emotions, and her life in general. She has friends, interests and a real purpose in life. Although accepting medication is crucial, she believes personal connections with others are more important.

Anna can still be hospitalised occasionally, but it is a far less scary prospect, and much more infrequent.

A short quote from Anna: “I am here to tell anyone willing to listen… it is possible to become who you want to be.” A mental health condition does not have to hold us back, we can make the choices we want, we are not defined by our thoughts. She also emphasises the importance of telling your story, of sharing your experiences, which all contributes to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health.

Two things that jumped out at me from this story:

  1. Meditation. People will probably already be spotting a pattern with me on this one, but I will never stop espousing meditation! It has changed my life, and I’m sure it’s not just going to work for me. I urge anyone to try it, and if possible give it a real effort, I truly believe it can help anyone.
  2. Anna stated to me that she believes mental health conditions can offer us a special insight into others. Often we are highly empathetic people, having experienced all sorts from the emotional spectrum, and can help others hugely. In fact it’s something I always find actually in turn helps me: helping others. Give out love and it will be reflected back to you.

Thanks so much Anna, and I urge anyone out there with a positive story to email me, and I’ll get it out there for you!

Big love,

Jack X

Nicola’s Story

Thanks to Nicola for this story! (Personal friend of mine without a blog, hence no share)

“I wanted to share my happy ending story of a lifetime of on-and-off depression.
My first episode of depression was triggered by a very traumatic relationship break-up when I was aged 26. I had always been an insular child and quite a weepy teenager but nothing particularly serious on the depression front so it came as a bolt out of the blue. I  had some psychotherapy but was told that I was psychologically normal and had just had a sad shock which had triggered an episode of depression. I took 20mg of Prozac (fluoxetine) for a few months and all was well …. until my first pregnancy some 6 years later when another episode of depression was triggered – probably post-natal depression caused by hormonal changes. I had three pregnancies in quick succession and was taking Prozac on and off between the pregnancies to stave off the baby blues. I found that 20mg a day would start working within about 2 weeks and I would be on it for several months at a time before weaning off by reducing my dose over a period of 3 weeks or so.

I then had about 10 clear years between the ages of around 40 and 50. No depression. No drugs.

Then, with no trigger whatsoever, when I was about 51, I was hit one summer by a massive depression. Couldn’t get out of bed. Couldn’t see anybody. Couldn’t do anything. Couldn’t make any decisions. Horrible dark thoughts about life being too exhausting to carry on. My life was perfect – lovely husband, 3 gorgeous teenage sons, lovely house, great friends. I just didn’t want to engage with any of it.
So I was put on Citalapram which I honestly thought was going to kill me. It gave me terrible panic attacks where I thought I was going to die. Made my heart pound and made me feel as if I was about to pass out. Changed back to the trusty old Prozac and slowly – very slowly this time – began to feel better. By early winter I felt well again so weaned off. Felt OK through Christmas, a bit wobbly in the Spring and then bang! It hit me again the following summer. Same deep depression. Another summer in bed.
This cycle continued for 4 summers until I went to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with medium to severe depression and anxiety caused by chemical imbalance possibly triggered by the menopause. His advice was that, as long as the Prozac worked and I felt well on it, I should just stay on it.

So that’s where I am now! Aged 55 and possibly as happy as I have ever been. I have now done 18 months on 20mg of Prozac a day and I feel great.

I did have an initial reluctance to stay on medication, probably for the rest of my life. The attitude of my generation is that being permanently medicated is somehow wrong, defeatist … I spend a lot of time justifying and explaining to those who have no idea what’s feels like to live with a mental health problem. Many of them have physical illnesses that they medicate so if they express reservations about my taking Prozac every day, I suggest that they might like to stop taking their asthma meds or their back pain meds or their allergy meds or their chemotherapy. Just because my illness is invisible to most people doesn’t mean that it doesn’t respond to medication in the same way that their illnesses do.”

What I particularly enjoyed about this story is the willingness to admit that medication was necessary. There can be a keenness when we feel so much better after a while having been on meds to stop taking them, particularly if there are nasty side effects. Personally I’ve been on Olanzapine before now (bloody hell I hate that drug), but was encouraged to stick with it, and that was the best decision I could’ve made. I switched to Quetiapine, which I find much less destructive, and so am now much happier, rewarded for patience!

We should never feel any pressure to come off drugs just because of some kind of taboo about being on medication. For me, I really couldn’t care less what people think of me taking medication every day, and if they do judge me then they’ve chosen themselves as people not worth knowing!
Big love X

John’s Story

Thanks so much to John, for being the first person to share, and for being brave enough to share in the public sphere that is the internet.

“John is 18, and was diagnosed with depressive disorder in March 2016. He was on medication for a year and a half, but now has managed to get off the meds and be stronger than ever.

While on holiday in the Alps in February 2016, John became severely depressed and experienced the darkest depths which those of us who have been there can empathise with. The temptation to take the easy way out was extremely strong, and the only thing that stopped him for that moment was the desire not to put his friends and family through the consequences.

John had injured his knee in 2015, and due to a series of complications and medical muck ups John faced two years of no sport. Being a sportsman, this prospect triggered the deep depression that he found himself stuck in.

John lost all motivation to achieve anything, in any arena, and really felt he could not face the future.

However, John attributes his recovery to both meds, and the realisation of the love for him felt by all the friends and family around him.

From going from complete academic apathy and being incapacitated, John began to re gain his drive, and really got down to work. Fast forward to January 2017, and John’s work pays off. He is offered a place to study at Oxford University, and is there today.”

The turnaround in this story certainly gives me massive encouragement for the future, and hope it does others too. John also emphasised to me that meds were just one of a lot of components that helped him turn himself around. Of course, meds are massively important. (I’m bipolar would never dispute that one!) However, it is just one piece in the make- up. John clearly values his family hugely and them him, and it’s important for us all to remember that there are always people who care about us. ALL OF US. Sometimes they’re difficult to see, but they are always there. He also wanted me to give a shout out to mental health charities, like MIND, who are just one of the examples who are out there for us.

One other thing… I think it’s really interesting how physical health for John was very linked to his mental health. And of course it works both ways: just as physical injury can be detrimental to mental health; keeping active and forcing ourselves to take exercise also supports our heads.


Send me your mental health success stories at:

Big love to all.



What this blog will be!

My dream for this blog is that it will become a place where people can share their stories about mental health, support each other, and prove that mental conditions can be a gift.

Please email me your success stories with mental health, and I’ll make a blog post about them. Just give me your first name and how you make mental health a positive thing.

My own background:

I’m Jack and I’m 19. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Bipolar Disorder in April 2017, having experienced some deep depressions as well as some hypomanic highs. I have been admitted to hospital before, and for a long time the diagnosis seemed like a curse. But I’ve begun to realise, thanks to some great people around me, how it can be a gift as well. The way I like to channel emotions is through being creative. I love writing plays, hip hop songs, and acting. I also find meditation enormously helpful, and would really recommend it for anyone, whatever your situation.

We have a particularly intense and unique way of seeing the world, and we should take advantage of that.

Whatever your mental health condition (not just Bipolar), please share your story, and together we can empower mental health.

Big love to everyone,

Jack X