International Bipolar Foundation

Singer songwriter Emily Maguire’s musical journey, from the UK to Australia and back again, has always felt a little like it could be a book, to me. Recently she launched a book, but it isn’t the story I always imagined. On World Mental Health Day, Emily admitted to Radio 2 listeners that for years she has lived with bipolar disorder and finally wanted to lift the lid on her story, and, in the process, on the stigma of mental illness.

Named after one of her most poignant songs, which she has always described as her "life story in three and a half minutes", 'Start Over Again' contains diary entries, pieces of writing and song lyrics accumulated from her teens to the present, all providing us with a unique insight into her mind in all its forms. It came about at the suggestion of her partner in music and life, Christian Dunham, to put together some of her diary entries and such and with his encouragement, it eventually took the form of a book.

If it sounds like heavy reading, it isn’t. Admittedly it took me a little while to read, more because it felt like that kind of book that had to be read over a period of time, in order for the words and story to truly resonate and tell their story – Emily’s story – and a very powerful one at that. Emily begins the book with a summary of her story, thus setting the scene for and giving context to the entries which follow, written in good times and bad, in and out of manic episodes. Whether you have experienced mental health issues yourself, know someone who has, or have no experience whatsoever, you cannot help but be both moved and educated by Emily’s story.

What cannot help but strike you is the incredible honesty with which Emily bares her soul – it is like hearing a friend share their story over coffee. In the process she gives added meaning to so many of her songs, once the listener understands the place from which they were written, something Emily admits she would not do if she did not have bipolar disorder; she considers this her silver lining and has reached the place where she would rather live with it than without it. However, that place is something for Emily to tell you about, not me, so I recommend you all find a copy of 'Start Over Again'. While you’re at it, if you don’t already have it, pick up 'Believer', the CD with the song which inspired the book and find out who Emily Maguire truly is for yourselves. [Helen Mitchell]

 
Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust

"'Start Over Again' is a moving and powerful account of Emily's experiences of psychosis and depression - it is a real privilege to be given this articulate and eloquent insight into the shifting mental state of a person living with bipolar disorder. The extracts of writing, letters, diary entries and lyrics, especially those reproduced in Emily's own hand, convey the energy and chaotic thinking of the highs and the incredible despair of the lows. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand more about bipolar disorder or the real life impact of mental health ill-health." [Lucy Robinson, AWP Communications] 
 
"Over the years the AWP Library Service has built quite a collection of personal memoirs relating to mental illness, together with poetry, biography, fiction, even a few graphic novels. The great thing about “Start Over Again” is that is combines several different elements of these to produce a really vivid account of Emily’s journeys into depression and psychosis. There is the diary element (7 days off lithium…) where we learn about the day-to-day battles with illness, and the joys of a singer-songwriter getting regular airplay on the radio. These are interspersed with poems and striking lyrics from songs, written when Emily is on a high – I would rather be a shooting star than the empty space in between. Emily’s story is one of living with bipolar disorder - the family condition as her grandmother called it - a recognition that her mental illness can be managed, and that it’s just one part of who she is, not the whole thing." [John Loy, AWP Chief Librarian]
 
Timefinders Magazine

Emily Maguire is a beautiful young woman, a gifted singer-songwriter, a skilled maker of goat’s cheese, a person of above average intelligence, and a deeply spiritual human being who knows what it feels like to go insane. Emily Maguire has bipolar disorder, but rather than allowing it to disable her, she has chosen to see it as enabling her to be who she really is, even though it means she has to start over again after every breakdown.

'
Start Over Again' is the title of Emily’s first book: a combination brief autobiography/collection of lyrics, poetry, prose and journal entries that tell the story of her very challenging but extremely interesting and ultimately rewarding young life, from 1991 (age 16) to the present (age 35). In only five short years, Emily has morphed from living on disability in London and having no idea about what to do with her life, to a woman who lived in a tin & potato sack shack in the Sunshine Coast of Australia with her lover, to a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter who has played the Royal Albert Hall and whose songs have been featured on BBC Radio 2.

I am a fan of Emily Maguire’s thoughtful lyrics and sun-kissed, sea-breezed, soothing vocals and ever since I first heard her song 'Keep Walking' in 2008, I couldn’t help but adore her. With three albums to her credit, including 'Stranger Place', 'Keep Walking' and 'Believer', and tours across the UK with such prestigious and well known artists as Don McLean, Glenn Tilbrook & Roddy Frame, Emily has evolved from a young woman afflicted with intense fibromyalgia (resulting from a car crash when she was still a teenager) and manic depression into an eloquent, exquisite and valiant artist who has chosen to allow the world to take a look inside her head and to be an advocate for those too afraid to share their voice.

Emily’s courage in publishing this work is colossal. 'Start Over Again' is an honest, poignant, often painful, but amazingly hopeful and positive message to anyone who suffers from depression or a mood/personality disorder. It is okay to acknowledge your feelings – to own them – to learn how to manage them and to take responsibility for your own health & wellness without being labeled as someone who is somehow deficient, less than, or broken.

As someone who suffers from episodes of depression and who comes from a family with a history of clinical depression, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, and an inability to cope with significant stress, I have enormous empathy for Emily. I understand all too well what it feels like to wonder if you’re going mad and whether fighting to stay grounded and self-composed in this difficult but beautiful world is worth the significant effort. I choked back tears while reading Emily’s Foreword and found myself feeling deeply moved and reflective about my own journey.

Emily, who finds comfort in Buddhism, will give you hope when you read her story. She will reinforce the fact that being different from what society perceives as “normal” is something to be embraced rather than ashamed of. Emily’s willingness to open up about her drug use, mood management, and her stay in a mental hospital will undoubtedly encourage her readers to look at people they know who deal with similar issues in a whole new light. It’s so true that “suffering is something we love to watch from a distance.” But the truth is that none of us can make it through this life without help of some kind and a lot of love.

After reading 'Start Over Again' you will hear Emily Maguire’s lyrics with different ears and her songs will become infinitely more meaningful. She hasn’t professed to have found the answer to her problems, but she’s absolutely willing to keep walking and persevere through her hours of darkness. She is a revelation. [Christine Bode]