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How to Stay Sane in an Insane World – Jeremy Thomas Talk

March 13th, 2017

Sleep for eight hours a night, exercise, be grateful for the small things in life, and when things get tough – just keep swimming.

Pupils at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools learned these important lessons from author, speaker and all-round survivor Jeremy Thomas when he delivered his insightful talk, ‘How to Stay Sane in an Insane World’, yesterday.

The former record label manager, who overcame his own battle with bipolar disorder and went on to make award-winning BBC documentary, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, inspired nearly 1,000 pupils, staff and parents with his story.

Delivered with incredible good humour, honesty and charm, Jeremy spoke at three separate events throughout the day at Monmouth School and HMSG, drawing from his extensive experience of mental health, the music business and novel-writing.

The aim of his talks is to normalise the subject of mental illness and take the Hammer Horror out of old perceptions. Over the last five years, Jeremy has visited schools across the country to share his poignant history of manic depression, addiction and loss.

He offers practical and useful tips on how to stay mentally healthy and get the best out of life, demonstrating that prevention is far better than cure.

“In the last two years the talks have really grown a lot and I’m quite zealous about it,” Jeremy said.

“I really believe in it and I think it should be in the school curriculum. This makes mental health a truly normalised subject for children.”

HMSG pupil, 17-year-old Katie, said: “It was really interesting. His personal story really put into context what mental illness is actually like, rather than what you see in films and on TV.

“It was useful for us, learning how to deal with stress during exams.

“I didn’t realise how important sleep is before.”

Jeremy’s top tips on how to stay mentally fit:


Our brain and body need time to reboot and restore themselves, so give them a break and get some good sleep.

Know when you are tired and do something about it.

Avoid drinking 20 cans of Red Bull or gallons of coffee.

Switch off phones and computers at least an hour before bed, and keep them switched off.


When you feel worried and overwhelmed, consciously make yourself relax.

Practise deep breathing techniques – it works for combat soldiers and Olympic archers, so it can work for you too.

Try singing – whenever and wherever – and if you are any good, join a choir.


Speak to someone you trust, share your thoughts and feelings. Speaking to people in person is a way to stay sane.

If something is troubling you, write it down, share it (best with a pet – they are less complicated than humans).


Taking exercise gets oxygen and endorphins into our brains and wards off depression and anxiety.

Walk, run, skip and jump – cycle, swim for 20 minutes a day.

Work out any anger or frustration, physical activity is a great outlet.

Take some time out to play.

Give thanks

Appreciate what you have, not what you don’t.

Do something for someone else – and remind yourself daily of all the good things you have done in your life.

Don’t make life a constant battleground – agree with somebody for a change.


It’s helpful to remember that anger is often based on fear – fear that one is losing control.

Take control, manage your time. Having a routine is good, plan ahead and get organised.

Attempt to do three things, no more – once you’ve done those, add another three to the list.

If it’s all a bit much and you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ and remember to punch a pillow.

Building self-esteem and self confidence

Self-esteem isn’t something that someone else can give you, it needs to come from within. It takes time, but the biggest deal is taking the first step in the right direction and then keep on going.

Here are 10 things that you can try that might help build self-esteem:

1. Be kind and generous – if you give, you will find people will give back – what goes around, comes around

2. Respect others, respect yourself

3. Be honest and tell the truth

4. Write a short story about your darkest secret or something that troubles you deep down. You can always burn it afterwards

5. Stand up for yourself, stand up for others, and speak up for what you want and believe

6. Accept what you cannot change, change the things you can, and let the rest go

7. Do two things each day that you don’t want to do

8. Find an interest that has nothing to do with money or technology but gives you pleasure

9. Don’t procrastinate – do it now

10. Practise good habits and not the bad ones

Click here to visit Jeremy’s website

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