Kate Taylor is a Lon­don based writer whose Interests are based primar­ily on music and art and also the philo­sophies and polit­ics that accom­pany them. In addi­tion, she has an MSc in psy­cho­logy, has worked as a ther­ap­ist, and paints abstract art pieces”. I start this Q&A with Kate’s bio for a reas­on as this is part of who Kate is. Recently Kate wrote an amaz­ing art­icle about our Queen (inside joke) Rishma’s jour­ney and the cel­eb­ra­tion of IAHH’s 8th year. How­ever, what has inspired me to do this Q&A was Kate’s deep, insight­ful, fright­en­ing, uplift­ing and heart wrench­ing art­icle. Kate opened her soul to  us and the rest of world for Men­tal health Aware­ness Week. In the art­icle she high­lights her jour­ney through men­tal health and this inspired me to want to do this Q&A. Per­son­ally I think she deserves it but more so I wanted to know a bit more about Kate. So, I want to first and fore­most I want to thank Kate for her time, and appre­ci­ate that des­pite everything she is happy to do this.

Who was Kate before this part of your jour­ney? What was it like for you grow­ing up?

There is no real ‘before’ as such, I believe that everything I have done, seen, and been through is inter­twined, lead­ing up to this point. I was born a triplet, in North Lon­don. Unfor­tu­nately my broth­er died early on so I am now a twin. Even when I was young, I found life dif­fi­cult. I always felt dif­fer­ent. School was hard. I was mis­in­ter­preted and mis­un­der­stood, so I was placed in classes for learn­ing dif­fi­culties. I mis­be­haved. I traunted. I was bul­lied. It turned out that I was in fact quite gif­ted, but I had been wrongly labelled. It taught me a valu­able les­son, that there are many people out there on the scrapheap who could have been very suc­cess­ful, but who were not giv­en the right oppor­tun­it­ies in life. I’m lucky I was able to push through the bar­ri­ers aca­dem­ic­ally, but it was not an easy road. I did not fit in. I was dif­fer­ent. I don’t miss school. Not at all!

My child­hood was not always easy. I come from a lov­ing Jew­ish fam­ily but many mem­bers of my fam­ily have had men­tal health prob­lems. My Mum, who I adore, had some of the same issues that I went on to have. I was angry at her for many years for her beha­viour when we were young. But I real­ise now that she was unwell. One of the most mov­ing things ever said to me was from my mum: “Kate, I wasn’t always there for you as a child but I am now”. And she has been. Bey­ond the call of duty. She has sup­por­ted me through everything.

My Dad had a massive per­son­al­ity. His nick­name was Del Boy, as in the char­ac­ter from Only Fools and Horses. He worked on a mar­ket stall selling women’s under­wear. He died two years ago. But we had many laughs grow­ing up.

What sparked your pas­sion for music and art?

Music has always been, not just a pas­sion, but an obses­sion with me. I truly believe that at cer­tain stages in my devel­op­ment it saved my life. I loved it as a child but it was in my teens that it really took on a massive thera­peut­ic effect. It was the mid 90s and grunge was my big love. My Dad had been a tick­et tout at one point (he was a duck­er and diver!), and his work part­ner went on to run the biggest tick­et agency in the coun­try. Hence myself and my twin were privy to all the tick­ets to gigs that oth­ers would kill for, such as Nir­vana and so on. But my tastes were eclect­ic and I loved hip hop and oth­er genres too. If music had depth and mean­ing then I was sold. I had big bouts of depres­sion and music was my medicine.

What made you then explore the philo­sophies and polit­ics behind them?

Explor­ing those things in music were partly instinct­ive and innate. As I’ve touched on, I am very sens­it­ive to the power of music to move me, to make me feel, and reflect. Emo­tion­ally I love being taken to the depths of my soul by music. But that also extra­pol­ates to philo­sophy and polit­ics. I have stud­ied both, but more than that I have always been aware of the world around me and social injustices. I worked for a while at a left wing anti-racist magazine in my early twen­ties. For me, where music is used as a tool or anchor for change, it can be the best cata­lyst because it reaches an audi­ence who may oth­er­wise not be reached. It really can be that voice for the voiceless

You have an MSc (Mas­ter of Sci­ence) in psy­cho­logy what was the inspir­a­tion to this? 

It actu­ally came about as a res­ult of my own exper­i­ences of men­tal health issues and addic­tion. These had effected me for years, and as a res­ult of my own treat­ment I became more and more intrigued with the work­ings of the human mind. Along with my own fas­cin­a­tion, and my con­stant quest for know­ledge, came an urge to learn to help oth­ers as I had been helped. I got a job in the field of ther­apy and I was giv­en the oppor­tun­ity to study while I worked. I received a dis­tinc­tion and four awards dur­ing this time. I love to learn no mat­ter the sub­ject, though for per­son­al reas­ons it was a top­ic close to my heart.

What was it like work­ing as a Ther­ap­ist and the pro’s and con’s?

Well as I said I partly got the job because I had per­son­al exper­i­ence with both men­tal ill­ness and addic­tion. It meant that I had a spe­cial insight into the patients inner world. It made me a great ther­ap­ist and I loved what I did. I have always had a great sens­it­iv­ity and intu­ition to oth­er people’s feel­ings. I wanted to help people with emo­tion­al dif­fi­culties and dis­tress and I believe I did. How­ever that asset was also a con. I took too much on board and car­ried the feel­ings of oth­ers with­in me without real­ising. It is a high pres­sure job with great respons­ib­il­ity. I loved the work so much but it was hard and some­times dark. Some of what you hear can haunt you.

So, the last ques­tion was a bridge to my next ques­tion which taps into your art­icle. Work­ing as a Ther­ap­ist when did you start to notice the signs of your Men­tal Health declining?

 As above, I already had a men­tal health con­di­tion but was stable at the time I star­ted work­ing. How­ever every so often I would have an epis­ode of my bipolar, and would have to go off sick. Every epis­ode got a bit big­ger and a bit longer until I could no longer carry on. I was told to sign off work and this time was it. I was off for a year, and went back but it was clear that I could no longer func­tion in that world. I was dev­ast­ated. I was hos­pit­al­ised because my con­di­tion was so bad. I have nev­er been in full time work since. That was over a dec­ade ago.

Dur­ing this pan­dem­ic a lot of us struggled with quar­ant­ine, but you have been in this pos­i­tion for some time now. As you men­tioned you have not even been able to go out on your own. What has that been like and how have you dealt with it? Not being inde­pend­ent must be difficult?

As I write this I have just got back from my leave. Sec­tion 17 is where you are allowed out for short peri­ods. This makes so much dif­fer­ence to my life here. For nearly 2 years I had not walked down the street alone or gone to a shop alone. Con­fine­ment is so hard for that long. It made me frus­trated and some­times I would explode on the ward because of that, which made them keep me inside even more. I think they got the bal­ance wrong because going out has changed me for the better.

Being held under the sec­tion 3 Men­tal Health Act I could not begin to ima­gine what that is like. How has this effected your view of the world?

 When that hap­pens gen­er­ally you are very unwell. With this epis­ode I have been resec­tioned three times in a row. It is fright­en­ing because you feel that you lose any power and rights once that hap­pens. Quite lit­er­ally treat­ment can be imposed on you against your wishes. You have to take med­ic­a­tion that you may not want, you can­not leave the build­ing, you can­not go home. Only with the per­mis­sion of the con­sult­ant can this hap­pen. I have felt stripped of human rights at some stages. Now I am doing very well I see that I was a danger to myself and needed treat­ment that I wouldn’t neces­sar­ily have con­sen­ted to. But you do feel angry. You feel like an anim­al caged in a zoo.

 I love the fact that des­pite all that have been through you still see a bright side or as you put it gifts. What gifts were they?

You meet some incred­ible people. Some of the most intel­li­gent, sens­it­ive, amaz­ing people I have ever met have been in hos­pit­al. They are beau­ti­ful. Also, I am a bet­ter ver­sion of myself because of my exper­i­ences. I have seen sor­row, des­pair, dis­tress, and hor­ror and I have found an inner strength I didn’t know I had. I have also seen joy, hap­pi­ness, and bravery. I have gained wis­dom and maturity.

 You suffered ter­rible epis­ode of psy­chos­is. When you recovered how did you pro­cess all of this?

 With dif­fi­culty. The reas­on being that I couldn’t remem­ber most of the epis­ode. I remem­ber some things, but much of what I know, I know by being told by oth­er people. It’s fright­en­ing real­ising how bad it got, yet at the time I didn’t real­ise how unwell I was at all.

Bipolar is noth­ing to scoff at but you have Rap­id Cyc­ling Bipolar. What is like hav­ing these extreme ups and downs as you put it? 

 It’s both awful and amaz­ing. The lows are hor­rendous. They can mani­fest them­selves in severe depres­sions that are so hard to treat. But I’d be lying if I said I hated the highs, because they can be amaz­ing. It’s like being on the best euphor­ic drug in the world for free. You feel exhil­ar­ated, buzz­ing, no inhib­i­tions. That part can be dan­ger­ous because you put your­self in dan­ger­ous situ­ations. Also, inev­it­ably, you crash down­wards. I’m hav­ing to learn not to push the highs fur­ther, even though I want to, because the con­sequences are not good. The med­ic­a­tion sta­bil­ises the mood, but I miss the up periods.

Being under the Sec­tion 3 Men­tal Health Act was the ECT (Elec­tric Con­vul­sion Ther­apy) vol­un­tary? You described that it helped your unmov­able depres­sion which is amaz­ing. How­ever, as you men­tioned it was very trau­mat­ic, but was it admin­istered by your choice?

 The ECT was admin­istered on a pre­vi­ous stay in hos­pit­al a few years ago. I was not under sec­tion then, I had gone into hos­pit­al vol­un­tar­ily suf­fer­ing from a crip­pling depres­sion. I thought I was being pun­ished by the dev­il. It was fright­en­ing and no treat­ment was work­ing. I couldn’t go on any­more and they sug­ges­ted it as a last resort. I wasn’t scared to have it, I was scared not to. I had run out of options. It required going under gen­er­al anaes­thet­ic twice a week for 12 ses­sions while they stim­u­lated a con­vul­sion. Yes it was trau­mat­ic. But it worked. I lost a lot of memory as a side effect, but that is OK now. It was a mira­cu­lous transformation.

You have built friend­ships with fel­low patients, have these friend­ships been hard to main­tain? How has your exper­i­ences changed the way you see people?

As I said earli­er, I have met some amaz­ing people. I have fostered many close friend­ships. Some of my best friends today are from hos­pit­al stays or sup­port groups. I find we have a level of under­stand­ing with each oth­er that is unspoken. We can be so hon­est with each oth­er with no judge­ment that I find dif­fi­cult to obtain with oth­er friends. How­ever I’ve learnt that you need to be care­ful. I do not routinely give my num­ber out. Some people are not as they seemed to be once out of hos­pit­al. I’ve learnt the hard way!

Hope. It is such a power­ful word and means a lot. To have hope is to have faith. How did you find your hope and hold on to it? Even at your low­est points, where does this strength come from? 

A life without hope is not a life. It is ter­ri­fy­ing when you feel trapped in a state of dis­tress. I have not always had hope and it brings with it thoughts of not car­ry­ing on. But some­how I have found the strength to get through. I’m not sure where the resi­li­ence comes from but for a reas­on unbe­known to me, I’m still here.

 As you put it this ill­ness has ruined your life. Soci­et­al ‘norms’ like “No stable rela­tion­ship, no chil­dren, no job or career” to quote your art­icle. Are these still things that you hope for in the future or have your goals and desires change? 

 I wouldn’t say it has entirely ruined my life, as I’ve answered in oth­er ques­tions it has giv­en me gifts, and made me a bet­ter per­son in many ways. But there are things I feel that I’ve missed out on and that makes me sad and angry about my ill­ness some­times. I don’t have what my friends and some mem­bers of my have. My life can, at times, be quite lonely and empty. It has also been enriched so I’m not sure if I would change my past if I had the choice. I have no desire to be entrenched in the ‘norms’ of soci­ety as you put it. But I would love to have close rela­tion­ships with people and also devel­op my skills of writ­ing and art to con­trib­ute to the world. Just in my own way.

 Your paint­ing again which is fant­ast­ic. What are your cur­rently paint­ing and what style of art are you focus­ing on?

I’ve got about 15 big canvases that I have painted sit­ting in my room here. I don’t know how I will even get them home! They are mainly abstract pic­tures. I don’t use real­ism. I feel that, if I wanted to rep­lic­ate some­thing, I might as well take a photo. I prefer to depict my inner world, not my out­er world.

 You said that you hate the sys­tem and not the staff, what is that you hate about the sys­tem? What improve­ments or changes would you imple­ment or like to see happen?

 I am cur­rently in a private hos­pit­al ward, but we are all NHS patients. I find, in my own opin­ion, that where private com­pan­ies are involved in health care, then the aim is to make profit out of ill­ness. That means corners are cut. There are not enough staff, and the ones here are stretched to break­ing point. But indi­vidu­ally there are some great nurses, health care assist­ants, doc­tors, and occu­pa­tion­al therapists.

 This year you pos­ted a beau­ti­ful poem on the IAHH website’s poetry sec­tion. A ded­ic­a­tion to your late fath­er which is a beau­ti­fully writ­ten piece. How has your father’s death impacted you? Have you any oth­er poems or is this some­thing that you are work­ing on?

 I still miss my Dad so much. He was such a big char­ac­ter. He was funny and loved being with fam­ily and friends. But he was suf­fer­ing towards the end of his life and so I hope he is rest­ing in peace. There is a line in a song I once heard: “They say you can’t take it with you, I think that they’re wrong. Because all I know is I woke up this morn­ing and some­thing big was gone”. That’s pretty much how I feel some­times. I do have oth­er poems as I love writ­ing but they are more occa­sion­al at the moment. I go through flur­ries of cre­ativ­ity and then some­times get blocked.

Through all of this as you men­tioned that being raw and open about all this helps. Where dd you find the cour­age to be this open about your exper­i­ence? I think that is needed as it gives a much big­ger insight to the import­ance of Men­tal Health. What was it that made you more com­fort­able about speak­ing about your journey?

 Talk­ing is such a relief. For years I hid my emo­tions, and my feel­ings, and my men­tal health issues, and the fact I was on med­ic­a­tion, and my addic­tions. That was a big load. It only made things worse. Shame is a killer. When I finally let go, my recov­ery began. Most people did not react how I feared they would. Some people did judge, espe­cially around drug use, but then they were not real friends. I still feel hurt but I have to try and focus on the people who were sup­port­ive. It is amaz­ing to feel free and honest.

Finally, what would you like for the future of Kate Taylor?

 As an out­sider look­ing in I would love her to feel bet­ter about her­self – improve her self esteem and acknow­ledge her tal­ents. She has plenty to give oth­ers and the world. She can help many people, and also con­tin­ue writ­ing. Mainly I would love her to find peace.

I want to once again thank Kate for tak­ing the time out for this Q&A. I am sure there is much more com­ing our way from her. Not sure about you but I am defi­antly look­ing for­ward to see­ing her art, read­ing more art­icles, and whatever cre­at­ive endeav­ours she pur­sues. If you can take any­thing from Kate’s story is that it is ok to open up about your Men­tal Health. If you find you are strug­gling then seek help and know that it is ok.




Men­tal Health 


NHS – Find Loc­al Support

Men­tal Health Foundation


The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.

Jay St Paul

Jay St Paul AKA Uncle JuJu is Founder & CEO of Hi…Creativity LTD | Dee­jay | Graph­ic Design­er | Illus­trat­or | Journ­al­ist | Writer | Pod­cast Host | Radio Presenter. Born and raised in West Lon­don Jay has always found love and solace in being cre­at­ive and express­ing him­self. Always look­ing to improve where he can and look­ing to learn new things as that is the jour­ney of being a creative.

About Jay St Paul

Jay St Paul AKA Uncle JuJu is Founder & CEO of Hi...Creativity LTD | Deejay | Graphic Designer | Illustrator | Journalist | Writer | Podcast Host | Radio Presenter. Born and raised in West London Jay has always found love and solace in being creative and expressing himself. Always looking to improve where he can and looking to learn new things as that is the journey of being a creative.