Hailing from the Border region, Andrew Lawes is a 34 year old writer renowned for his openness and compassion. Lawes started publishing his writing in 2012, due to a combination of realising his mental health issues were escalating and immense frustration with the lack of support available for the mentally unwell. Lawes' story of fighting depression received acclaim from both sides of the Atlantic, notably from Jonathan Davis of Korn who remarked, "bless you for giving people hope," and from Duff McKagan of Guns 'N' Roses, who thanked Lawes for his courage in his article 'Depression Ain't No Joke.' Lawes' next article, 'Loving Someone With Depression,' was written in response to a lack of support and advice for the loved ones of people suffering from what Lawes coined 'the cancer of the soul.' Republished on several mental health websites and, most notably, the Good Men Project, this essay steeped in empathy and compassion received in excess of 300,000 views, and remains Lawes' most popular piece of writing. Lawes' later essays on male suicide and self-harm, while not reaching the popularity levels of his depression writing, played a crucial role in opening the doors for other men to rise above the stigma and discuss their own struggles.
Despite his writing on mental health issues helping so many people, Lawes continued to struggle with his own state of mind, and found the success of his writing created a pressure he was ill-equipped to handle. A death of a loved one and the loss of his dream job in controversial circumstances, within weeks of each other, left Lawes unemployed yet seemingly with an ability to voice the things others felt unable to verbalise. Fuelled by grief and desperation, Lawes made a decision to ignore his own need for recovery and instead push himself to the brink of insanity, in the hope that, should he survive, he would be able to tell his story and help those suffering from the farthest extremes of mental illness. This process ended with Lawes being sectioned in 2015, with the official diagnosis being psychosis induced at his own hand. After being released from the hospital a week later, Lawes embarked on the long process of rebuilding both his mental health and his life.
Twenty-two months after his section was lifted, Lawes returned to work. Having isolated himself from the world during his recovery, including a six-month stretch where he barely left his room, Lawes became a labourer for his brother, Darren, one of the top resin floor layers in the country. To go from spending so long detached from the world, confined to a tiny area where he felt safe, to travelling the length and breadth of the country was a massive risk, one Lawes knew he had to take. With his brother and a friend at his side, Lawes re-emerged into the world, rebuilding his confidence and his ability to engage with people, while proving to himself he could do a difficult job he never imagined he'd be able to do. After a year, Lawes was made redundant and the company ended up bankrupt. While the old Lawes would have crumbled in such circumstances, the Lawes of 2017 had a strength and resolve he'd never dared imagine he would have, and he knew he was ready to resume helping people as best he could. In addition to returning to care work, Lawes began studying Psychology with Counselling through the Open University, with the intention of ultimately becoming a Psychotherapist, and also became a Samaritan. These three strands enabled Lawes to support people immediately, while also gaining the skills and knowledge to become able to help them profoundly in the future.
After taking the time to repair his mind and reinforce his own mental wellbeing, Lawes is now able to fulfill his mission. In addition to his University work, Lawes occasionally shares essays about mental health, life and the world, what he calls his Disorderly Thoughts. For fun, he also writes a weekly column about Fantasy Premier League, and his ongoing failures to achieve any level of success in his mini-league - what he calls his FPL Nightmare. Lawes is also presently working on the book he drove himself to insanity to research. At seven years in the making following a lifetime of struggle, it promises to be the defining insight into what drives someone to madness, and how it is possible to make it back from the brink.