Young celebrities won’t let me give up on my mental health project

Do you know when someone’s words suddenly shine a light on your motivation to go ahead and do what drives you?

I’ve been on and off with big ideas to fight the stigma around mental health. The past few weeks have been ‘off’, but yesterday someone said ‘those’ special words and changed the game.

When I’m given a task and a deadline, I go ahead and do it. But when it’s a task for my own project – and one that means so much to me – I easily get off track with my own emotions, doubts and fears. Thinking about this day and night, with help and feedback from all sides, can be quite overwhelming.

celebrities mental illness

Prince Harry’s interview with Bryony Gordon about his grief denial for 20 years, following his mother’s death, made my determination reappear like an erupted volcano and now even sleeping seems like a waste of time.

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It’s time to talk (and today is the day for it)

Let’s end the stigma around mental health simply by asking a friend or a colleague how they’ve been feeling. Today is ‘Time To Talk’ day.

Whether you like these guys or not, they are right in this:

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry stand next to each other with Heads Together hairband

Royals William, Catherine and Harry fight mental health stigma through Heads Together

Through our work with young people, emergency response, homeless charities, and with veterans, we have seen time and time again that unresolved mental health problems lie at the heart of some of our greatest social challenges.

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One more man has died. Of despair

Whether it was suicide or not, this was yet another man hiding nightmares behind smiles – someone nobody thought would vanish this way. He was 30. This needs to stop happening

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine who was very close to me during my depression time drew my attention to a Facebook post from a former colleague we had at Alzheimer’s Society. I was surprised, but most of all I felt encouraged to see another voice speaking up from the darkness of social media:

Remembering Ian Preston

Remembering Ian Preston

I’ve had a shit 2016 and I’ve realised over the past few weeks if I’d only reached out to my amazing group of friends I’d have found it a lot easier. Men really don’t talk about our mental health enough, and in the words of The Hold Steady, it Almost Killed Me. Movember this year is dedicated to stopping men dying too young so in that spirit I just wanted to (re)-tag some friends who’ve made sure I’m still here.


Today I learned that Ian is not “here” anymore.

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We need to talk about depression (so why not start with mine)

(read in Portuguese)

Depression has symptoms. They may be obvious or subtle, but mostly they have one thing in common: feelings

I’ve been writing since I can remember. I would write for everyone or just for myself, for specific groups or individual people. Some people need to run, to cook, to be outdoors or to see friends every day; I needed to write, even when I didn’t read my own writings.

For two years I lost the pleasure in doing one of the things that I enjoyed the most. I lost count of the times I put a pillow behind my back and made myself comfortable with a laptop on my lap, only to shut it down soon thereafter since I could barely write a sentence. I tried it with new and old notebooks, with fancy pens, I tried in the evenings and in the mornings, I used candles and music, I tried at home and in cafés, while travelling or in random places. I even went on a winter retreat to a small town in the south of an island, to spend four days totally dedicated to writing.

Yet nothing would come out.


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Let’s stop pretending we’re always fine

(ler em português)

Let’s talk mental health. Enough of sharing smiles and colourful photos, enough of achievements and dream travels. Tough moments need to be shared too – that’s life, plus shared pain is less painful

Now that I’m finally able to face this screen and write about this, I’ll share a recent episode that was very meaningful to me when last winter I went to a conference in Gainesville, a small university town in northern Florida, USA.

It was a packed four-day trip, including two days of travel, which may explain why it was all so intense. Things were getting clearer in my head then, and I certainly felt sensitive to inspiring stories, people, songs and places.

debora miranda na conferência frank, onde se partilham exemplos de como a comunicação pode melhorar o mundoThis is a rather unconventional conference: frank brings together professionals who believe that good quality communication can make the world a better place. In a very TED, US style this was a quite human conference, so I let myself get carried away by dozens of people’s experiences and stories. Suddenly, I too felt the urge to let out my thoughts – “maybe they will trigger some further empathy”.

This urge turned into the words that I had been fighting to write for months. At last, during one of  three return flights (Gainesville – Miami – London – Lisbon) I wrote: 

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Behind my ‘Thank you’

(ler em Português)

A year ago today I was enjoying one of the happiest days of my life. My two worlds came together, from home and from far away, to celebrate three decades of life on a more than perfect summer day.

Cars travelling from my Lisbon routes were joined by planes flying from Dortmund, Berlin, London and Brussels, filled with French, German, Portuguese, Uruguayan, American, English, Irish and Italian friendship.

DSC09844 - Copy

(there was more than that!)

For cancerians (and more so for pessimistic ones) it’s difficult to accept full happiness, even if for just one day, as though there would always have to be a trap somewhere. That acceptance is therefore even more amazing as one nervously looks around and doesn’t find any trap at all. Rather, it is about appreciating the cloud under which we lived, making us forget the colours of our childhood, passionate moments, foreign scenes. And so we finally show a genuine smile.

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EURO 2016 Final, Terreiro do Paço, Lisbon (Credit Lusa Agency)

If you don’t run on Portuguese blood you can’t feel this, but let me try to explain

What winning the Euro 2016 really means to Portugal

Portugal campeão Euro 2016

Me losing my voice in Marquês de Pombal

I need to let this out, even if I should not be allowed to speak anything else but Portuguese right now. My beautiful language is “only” the 6th most widely spoken worldwide and I need to shout beyond that!

To be Portuguese is to long for something that we achieved in the past; something (at least seen as) great, and in a past turned into nostalgia. Our nation lives in the memory of sea heroes which we stubbornly think we may never become again.

We’ve been a Republic for over a century. We had four decades of dictatorship, ended with a peaceful revolution. We had a colonial war and I grew up with my father’s stories from two years in Mozambique. Thousands of people across generations left Portugal and settled in other countries, mainly France. The 10th of June is Portugal Day, when much of this is remembered.

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10 things I miss and don’t miss about London

Hampstead Heath London

Before moving to this crazy city I was told of an important milestone for Londoners: once you reach five years, either you stay forever or you leave. Five years in I decided to leave.

My love-hate relationship with this place is shared by many – maybe this list too.

1. Food
To miss: dishes from every corner of the world, cooked either by your friends or in one of thousands of restaurants.
Not to miss: Sainsbury’s tomatoes tasting like cucumbers, Kenya-injected avocados and peeled Thai prawns making us forget what living prawns look like.

2. Job market
To miss: being able to apply to virtually any job.
Not to miss: Brits calling me European.

3. People
To miss: making friends with friends of friends who became friends for life, come from every corner of the world and understand my London struggles so well.
Not to miss: only seeing them every five weeks and accepting that once one of us leaves we’ll never live in the same city again.

London skies4. Weather
To miss: 10 million people appreciating every single minute of sunshine.
Not to miss: ten months of winter.

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We need to talk about cervical cancer

During my Science Journalism MA studies in London I had a fascinating experience with The Guardian, working with the science desk to investigate an important health issue while experimenting innovative online journalism methods:

In her seven part Guardian series Débora Miranda has investigated cervical cancer prevention strategies around the globe. Here she summarises some of her findings and lays out the decisions that doctors and policy-makers must now take.

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