Sawtell author has shared her experience of living with mental illness.
Sawtell author has shared her experience of living with mental illness.

Writing was trigger for bipolar diagnosis

Sawtell author and mother of three says she's come very close to losing her battle with mental illness.

Kim Hodges was 46 when she took a break from her role teaching sociology at university to write a book about growing up in the small remote town of Coolah.

"Writing triggered the trauma of a health crisis I had at the age of 17, so it was cathartic in one way but it also triggered my mental illness."

She was diagnosed with bipolar, severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

"It was a relatively late diagnoses but in retrospect I realised I had moodswings but hadn't had any hospitalisations or episodes prior to that."

Her book Girl on the Edge was published in 2016.

"It sold well and my publisher was thrilled and it's in most libraries and book shops."

But locals in nearby towns like Dubbo and Dunedoo weren't impressed.

"They said 'how dare you write about mental illness and domestic violence in our town'. The book is all about growing up in a regional town with class and gender inequality, and poverty."

Now in her early 50s Kim has released a second memoir Girl Over the Edge, which is about her lived experience of mental illness and advocacy work.

Living with mental illness will be a lifelong struggle for Kim.

"My last hospitalisation was three months ago for a month.

"It doesn't go away, you just have to try and manage it."

She says it is very important to get a good team of health professionals including a GP, psychologist and psychiatrist.

"And you have to trust them and listen to them. I didn't want to listen for a long time."

She is sharing her insights in a series of talks as part of Mental Health Month:

- 10am, Wednesday October 14 at the Angel Food Cafe, Dorrigo

- 10am, Tuesday October 20 at the Bellingen library, face-to-face

- 6.30pm, Wednesday October 28 at Coffs Library via zoom.

Kim was born in Bellingen and decided to return to the region eight years ago to give her sons a coastal lifestyle without the hustle and bustle of city life.

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