Writing Her Way Out of a Social Anxiety Tunnel in the UK - OC87 Recovery Diaries

Writing Her Way Out of a Social Anxiety Tunnel in the UK


Claire Eastham is a Manchester UK-based writer, public speaker, & bestselling author. The title of her newest book, F**k, I Think I’m Dying: How I Learned to Live With Panic, is a good example of Claire’s frank and often humorous approach to storytelling about her journey with social anxiety disorder.

After living with near-paralyzing symptoms for most of her childhood and young adulthood (including blushing, sweating, stammering, shaking, heart palpitations), Claire had a nervous breakdown. She was 24 years old. She had been “white-knuckling” her condition for years, but at this breaking point, Claire finally sought help. Her doctor diagnosed her within minutes.

At the time, Claire’s doctor said “I don’t understand how you’ve been coping.” Claire’s response?  “I suppose I haven’t, you know?” All that was about to change. According to Claire, that interaction was the spark she needed to start a blog to document what was happening to her “in a no-nonsense kind of humorous way.’

Ever since, writing has been critical to Claire’s recovery. In addition to her latest book, she is also the author of We’re All Mad Here: The No-Nonsense Guide to Living with Social Anxiety, and has shared her journey with social anxiety in the terrific OC87 Recovery Diaries essay We’re All Mad Here: Claire Eastham & Anxiety Recovery.

In addition to writing, Claire has tried many methods along her recovery journey, including medication, therapies and exercise. “Dogs and humour help too” she adds.

This month, OC87 Recovery Diaries is pleased to present a video featuring the delightful Claire. She was one of five international guests at the 2019 Write on the Ocean Women Writers’ Retreat that OC87 Recovery Diaries hosted in Cape May, NJ.

We took the opportunity of this gathering to interview our international guests. The interviews resulted in a new OC87 Recovery Diaries video series titled “Writers Talk,” in which we meet people discussing the important relationship between writing and mental health recovery.

Our film interviews with each of the “fabulous five” writers in this special OC87 Recovery Diary series include Liza Brock (Australia), Claire Eastham (England), Florence Mukangenzi (Rwanda), Pinar Tarhan (Turkey), and Sanjukta Chauhan (India).

We hope you’ll enjoy getting this international perspective on writing and mental health. We know you’ll enjoy meeting these terrific, articulate, and often, very funny, women.


EDITOR IN CHIEF: Gabriel Nathan | EDITOR: Glenn Holsten | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman

See Related Recovery Stories: Anxiety, Mental Health Short Films

Glenn is an award-winning director who loves to create compelling documentary story experiences of all lengths for screens of all sizes. He is an avid reader, studied literature in college, and his passion for stories with strong characters and interesting narratives stems from those years. His career as a visual storyteller began at WHYY (the public television station in Philadelphia) where he worked for 15 years before becoming an independent filmmaker. In addition to his PBS documentaries about arts and culture, he has directed films about justice and human rights, and now, mental health. He was emboldened to undertake his current documentary project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, a colorful feature-length documentary about surviving mental illness and finding the courage for recovery, after his transformative experience directing OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, along with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston.