I have anxiety. Only formally diagnosed in adulthood but looking back I think I’ve always had it. I was a nervous child, happy, but an over-thinker. I would catastrophise sometimes the smallest of issues causing myself so much angst. Of course, on the outside, no-one would have guessed it on most days (but not on my worst days). I have high-functioning anxiety which is just another way of saying that I was (still am) great at hiding my feelings and getting on with it. I learned to live with it. I didn’t know any better. I thought this was just how everyone’s brains worked. I did not have the technical terms to put to my emotions and thinking patterns, it wasn’t something that was openly talked about at school and when it was discussed it wasn’t in an open and accepting way. So, I just carried on. I am, as are many people with anxiety, a perfectionist. Nothing short of perfect was acceptable. So, I did good in school, achieved great results at University, landed some wonderful teaching positions, bought a house, met and married my soulmate, was blessed with children. To everyone else, I had the perfect life. But all the while I continued to carry the weight of my anxiety on my shoulders until one day that weight finally got too heavy. It broke me. I dropped my bundle. I had let that bubbling and simmering pot of water overboil. And that need not have been the case. If I had the tools to manage my anxiety, the awareness that asking for help was not a sign of weakness and mental illness wasn’t something to be ashamed of I could have received the help I so badly needed long before it had the devastating impact on my life that it did. This is why I am so passionate about helping dissolve the stigma around mental illness and start these conversations and education around anxiety early in childhood. If children grow up understanding anxiety, they will not only be able to identify the signs in themselves and others but also have the tools to manage it. It will not be as hard for children to reach out and ask for help when they need it because the shame surrounding mental illness will not be there. I want my book to be a conversation starter with children. The open door that begins an education surrounding mental illness and ways to understand, cope with and manage it.