A Novel Way to Cope with Seasonal Sadness

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), October 21, 2002 | Go to article overview

A Novel Way to Cope with Seasonal Sadness


Byline: Jill Tunstall

IT'S THE dream of many a struggling student, to have their first book published, see their name in print and have that first foot placed on the ladder of literary success.

For third year English Literature student Anna Doughty that dream is reality. As she prepares for six months of intensive swotting for final exams and assessment next year, Anna will also have to find time for book launches and signings.

Her novel How Glass Becomes Sand has just been published by Gwasg Pantycelyn but it seems only a matter of time until it is picked up by a major publishing house.

An original tale of a woman who wakes up in hospital to discover that staff believe her to be a man (or is the truth the opposite way round?) it was written when when she was just 19.

Four years later the novel still languished in a drawer, fear of rejection prevented its young author from sending it off to publishing houses. But Anna's life had gone on, with some unexpected twists and turns, which finally brought her in contact with an interested publisher.

I meet her in the Bangor University terrace bar where, in traditional student black coat and jeans and perched on a lurid green velvet banquette seat with a black coffee in hand, she recalls how the novel came about.

``I did my GCSEs and hated school so much that I took two years off to recover and did a GNVQ at Llandrillo,'' she explains. ``I did my A-levels then was accepted for St Hilda's College at Oxford, but after two weeks of studying there I cracked and left.''

There is an explanation for this disaffection with educational establishments. Anna suffers from SAD - Seasonal Adjustment Disorder - a form of depression which has dogged her family. As the nights draw in, instead of thinking of roaring fires and kicking through the leaves, sufferers find themselves slipping deeper into melancholy.

``I can sit there feeling everything's awful, nothing's going right and then I will put a light on and it will lift,'' she says.

Special lights and some medication have helped Anna, but the pressure of the Oxford hot house (featured recently on the Channel 4 docu-series College Girls) was too much.

``I felt that I should be able to cope, that I was lucky to be there and it would help with a writing career,'' she says.

``But I decided to come back to Wales and study at Bangor where I would be happier and get a good degree. …

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