‘Crying Into the Saucepan’ fries mental illness stigma

Beibhinn Thorsch

Credit: Nikki Hayes

Mental health issues are familiar to most Irish people, and few understand the power of mental disorders more than Nikki Hayes (the pseudonym of Eimear O’ Keefe), whose debut book ‘Crying Into the Saucepan’ deals with her own struggle.

Hayes is a respected and popular radio DJ with an impressive back-catalogue, who has also been diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder (BPD). She describes her journey suffering without professional support and with misdiagnosis throughout the book, and the somewhat graphic details of a true experience living with BPD.

This personal biography surrounding mental health is one which has been sorely missing from the Irish literary scene for quite some time. It is rare to see a prominent figure come and be brutally honest in a way which truly resonates with anyone affected by mental illness.

Beginning work in pirate radio during her teens in the 1990s, the protective psuedonym of Nikki Hayes was born. The name would come to be known and loved over the the course of her 23-year DJ-ing career, during which she worked with notable outlets like Spin 103.8 and 2fm.

Also named Emotionally Unstable Personality disorder, BPD affects the thought process of the sufferer. Mayo Clinic describes it as “a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness.”

This book is a journey in itself as Hayes lays out her life story with regards to the disorder and her experience working in radio in chronological order. This allows the reader to clearly understand and empathise with the disorder, creating a safe space for people who have been diagnosed or are waiting on diagnosis of this disorder.

Speaking to the author, Hayes said that she did not have a specific image of who she thought would or should read the book.

“I hoped [the book would help] people searching for answers when depression and anxiety treatment didn’t seem to solve their problem. I wanted people to know how common BPD is and what it is. It’s not spoken about” she told The College View.

Published in October 2017, the book is Hayes’ first, although she recently teased a second release on twitter. ‘Crying Into the Saucepan’ brings readers right up to date with what the author’s life was like at the time of it’s publishing, yet leaves us with a slight longing for more.

When asked if she had any idea the book would resonate with young people as much as it has, Hayes responded “I was a teen when all this manifested. I just convinced myself that I was insane and no one corrected me. So I believed it.”

This book shows resilience in a realistic sense, which is essential for anyone dealing with personal struggles to see.

The story is also an excellent incentive for anyone who may be in the midst of a mental health issue to go and receive help, something which Hayes is a strong advocate for.

“I always said from the start if one person felt OK by reading it… It was a message received.”