Bryony Gordon: Liking yourself shouldn't be a radical act

"I don't think I ever stopped being a teenager," said Bryony Gordon. So it comes as no surprise that her latest book, You Got This, works as a love letter to her younger self. Tackling issues such as anxiety, romance, body image and shame, it's a book that shares all that she's learned on her journey to good mental health. 

"I don't really have confidence. I think confidence is a trick," she said, "I have all of the same hateful thoughts as everyone else does... But what I do have is an absolute desire to not spend any more of my energy or my time hating myself. I don't want to be duty bound to find a bit of my body I don't like anymore." 

Gordon's story is one of highs and lows. From running the London Marathon in her underwear and interviewing Prince Harry on his mental health to suffering from OCD and rehabilitation, hers is a tale of self-discovery and growth. "I carried shame around like a backpack," she said, "but shame dies when you expose it to the light." 

Chronicling her recovery, she said she realised the thing she was best at in life was being herself. "Liking yourself shouldn't be a radical act," she said, "but somehow it is." 

In the Q&A that followed her talk, a member of the audience asked how society can get people to access the mental health support that we need. "What we really need now is the people in positions of power to sit up, stop witting and wanging on about Brexit and actually do something with the nation's mental health." 

Photo by Matthew Harry. 

If you are interested in more talks like this see Matt Haig: Notes on a Nervous Planet on Saturday 1 June. If you like watching Hay Festival events digitally please sign up to the Hay Player for more from the world’s greatest thinkers.