The only thing crazier than Sammie was the welfare state supposed to be helping her! Getting your needs met in austerity Britain is a game of Russian roulette. Will she beat the system?
“A lot of comedians talk the talk when it comes to demanding social change, but Samantha Pressdee walks the walk.” (Steve Bennett, Chortle)
In 2014 shortly after the death of my Dad, I was hospitalised due to a severe mental breakdown. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and was told by a psychiatrist that I should consider myself disabled, give up work and that I'd be on medication for the rest of my life. His words felt like a death sentence.
Despite his advice I had hope that I could still live a full life and reach my potential. Not long before my breakdown, I'd visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as an actress in a play. When one of the cast members invited us all to see her cousin Alfie Brown. It was the first live comedy show in an hour long format I had ever seen, and I loved it so much I felt inspired to tell my own stories through stand up. Alfie was also diagnosed with Bipolar, as is Russell Brand and Tony Slattery. It seemed to me that comedy is sanctuary for the nutcase. A 2014 article in The Guardian states comedian is the most likely profession to be diagnosed with psychotic traits. I'm convinced comedy is my home and although some may see me as a pesky squatter, I've managed to resist the bailiffs so far.
Covered is the 4th hour long comedy show I have written. It's based on my very personal journey back to sanity in austerity Britain. Although I'll never make a full recovery. In the 5 years since I left the hospital I have not had a serious Bipolar episode. I talk about how I struggled to get my needs met by the state, the people who helped me along the way and those who tried to knock me down.
It's not just about me, 1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues and not everyone is as lucky as I have been. That's why my show is part of a wider project called Pulling It Together. I have invited wellbeing experts like Nutritionist Michelle and Life Coach Andrea to share their insights. They have been a great blessing in my life enabling me to regain and maintain my mental health. Fellow artists who have experienced mental health issues will also share stories and tips through a series of podcasts and blogs. I plan to create a booklet with excerpts from these to sell on a pay-what-you-want basis after my show in Edinburgh.
The first blog written by award winning comedian and number 1 best seller author Dave Chawner is available here.
You can listen to the first podcast 'Nutrition and Mental Health' with Michelle here.
I have a wonderful team of people on board. Award winning comedian Phil Nichol is working with me as director. PQA Venues have offered me a lovely wheelchair accessible space and Ariane Oiticica will be handling my press.
It costs thousands of pounds to launch a show at the Edinburgh Fringe. I will be up against celebrities and comedians with rich financial backers in the struggle to get my voice heard. I feel I have something to say that is important, as people with mental health issues often get their voices dismissed. Or worse we are excluded from society completely, sometimes with grave consequences.
Can I convince you to join the mission? After coming straight out of a mental hospital into the comedy world, I haven't done too badly. Just days after being released in 2014 I made it into the final of Can Comedy's new act competition. I've had several four-star reviews for my shows and in 2016, I made it onto The Telegraphs best jokes list. I have also been invited onto various Talk Radio shows to discuss social issues and in January this year I appeared on George Galloway's RT television show. I have a part-time job on television as a presenter and tarot card reader and will be self funding most of the project. The project is not for profit and I won't be paid for my work. I feel this is my purpose, so I don't mind not making any money but I do have to pay for lots of other things like accommodation, my venue hire and fees for the people who are working with me.
“the most endearing political activist I have ever met.” (Kate Copstick, Scotland On Sunday)
If like me you believe it is important that people with mental health issues get their needs met and their voices heard, that together we can break down stigma to cultivate a more compassionate and supportive society please give what you can, or share with people who may find this project of interest.
For further information about the project and tickets for the show please visit pullingittogether.org.uk