Stewkley author's debut book chronicles his family's mental health battles

Mark Simmonds with his book 'Breakdown and Repair'
Mark Simmonds with his book 'Breakdown and Repair'

A father from Stewkley has had his debut book published about his family's battles with mental health.

'Breakdown and Repair' written by first time author Mark Simmonds tells of a father's tale of stress and success.

Mark Simmonds with his daughter Emily

Mark Simmonds with his daughter Emily

In July 2001, Mark suffered a mental breakdown caused by work-related stress.

He then suffered severe depression which culminated in a suicide attempt in Wing.

In 2012, the Simmonds family - Mark, his wife Mel, and their sons Will and Jack, faced another battle when their daughter Emily developed anorexia while studying in Aylesbury.

Both Mark and Emily have overcome their respective struggles and now Mark has penned a book about their experiences which was published last month by Trigger, a mental health and wellbeing publisher.

Mark said: "The book is split into two parts - the first is about my depression and the second is about Emily's fight against anorexia.

"The first part dates back to 2001 when I moved from a job at a management training company in Aylesbury to running a business alongside two other people.

"I had plenty of work on the go and struggled to keep up with the pace - my colleagues were based in London and I started to feel a sense of isolation.

"I was increasingly stressed with work and was finding I could not cope.

"I started taking medication and went for help as I became increasingly desperate.

"It came to a head in July 2001 when I decided to try and end my life in a suicide attempt.

"I was cycling through Wing and a ten tonne truck was coming the other way so I threw myself in front of it

"I was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital by helicopter and spent two weeks recovering from my injuries there - I sustained a head injury and a collapsed lung.

"The depression lifted when I was in hospital and everything became clear.

"I decided to work on a freelance basis and everything changed after that."

Mark then enjoyed ten stable years based at the family home in Stewkley (previously lived in by former England cricketer Darren Gough) where he maintained a good work life balance.

The second part of the book is the story of Mark's daughter Emily as she suffered with anorexia for five years.

Mark said: "Emily was 16 at the time and came home from Aylesbury High School having been sick.

"She was in her first year of A-Levels at the time and it proved to be the beginning of an eating disorder.

"We took Emily to various clinics for treatment but initially nothing was working.

"She had functioning anorexia - which meant she was surviving but not taking steps to conquer the illness.

"Once she had been discharged from the clinic she went to university in Durham for a year and then went on to work for ITV as a runner.

"The anorexia was still there and after a while it took its toll and she collapsed at work.

"Her boss at ITV was very supportive and after ordering Emily to take a complete two week break from work, when Emily returned she was very supportive."

Two years ago Emily managed to kick anorexia into touch and currently works in London for ITV.

The book is illustrated by Stewkley based graphic designer Lucy Streule.

Reviewers of the book have included politician and broadcaster Alastair Campbell who describes it as 'an important addition to the literature of mental health.'

Mark said: "It can be hard to talk about mental health but I decided I wanted to be very open about it.

"My family were very supportive when I said I wanted to write this and hopefully people will see it as a good news story because we both overcame our respective demons."

Breakdown and Repair by Mark Simmonds is out now priced at £11.99.