A 16-year-old Skye resident has bravely shared his struggles with his mental health in a series of essays which have this week been published by Amazon.
‘A Series Of Essays About Mental Health’ is the work of Portree High School pupil Luke Eveling who lives in Broadford.
The book was released on Wednesday 14th April via Amazon.
Across four essays, Luke writes frankly about a wide range of issues including heartbreak, peer pressure, drug abuse, and suicide.
Speaking to the Free Press this week, he talked about coping with isolation during the pandemic, being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and the “overwhelming support” he has received from family, friends and the wider community.
“The pandemic had a big impact on me,” said Luke. “I went from having all my friends about to being by myself. I can only speak for myself, but I think having too much time on your own can make you overthink things, especially when you have that disconnect from person to person, it is very hard to feel normal or feel like you are part of something.
“I think I already had a lot of problems beforehand, but I think the pandemic sped them up or amplified them — the book began about then, well over a year ago, as my mental health problems became really bad”.
Luke said he was spurred on to write a book by a friend of his, who encouraged him after reading an essay he wrote at school.
“The first essay I wrote about in the book was one I used for my English National 5 portfolio, the teacher thought it was really good.
“I was going through a hard time then as my girlfriend at the time had finished with me after an on-and-off two-year relationship, so there was a lot of sentimentality around it.
“I showed the essay to my friend and she said ‘you obviously enjoy writing, maybe you should write a book’, kind of as a joke.
“But I thought about it a lot more, and I just wrote because in many ways it helped me formulate my thoughts and articulate them in a way that I hadn’t really been able to before.
“I ended up writing four essays which then became the book.”
Luke’s struggles with his mental health resulted in him being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in November 2020.
Reflecting on his feelings prior to the diagnosis, he said: “I took a while off school, about five months I think.
“Having an undiagnosed problem is difficult — you don’t really know what’s going on and you have all these character flaws — especially for me, I guess, as my way of thinking is different to normal people.
“When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s I felt invalidated to begin with, but it then kick-started my recovery.”
He added: “When I was given that diagnosis it was nice to have a feeling that it was something I could pin down.”
Looking ahead to where his writing may take him in the future, Luke said: “I have always enjoyed writing, and have always been interested in journalism. I am pretty certain that I will do something with writing, but I have exams just now so I will probably take a break for a bit.
“I think it hasn’t really sunk it, though. When I finished my manuscript, my friend said to me ‘you’re a published author at 16!’
“I think I might have to switch off emotionally for a bit, because it has been so overwhelming.”
Touching on the response to the book, he said: “I only have good things to say about my friends and family, they have been so supportive of it, especially my mum.
“The people close to me helped to nurture this idea.
“The whole community and the support I have seen in the last few days has been overwhelming.”
Luke’s book – A Series Of Essays About Mental Health – is available to purchase now via Amazon.