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13 Questions: Sophie Pelham

Sophie Pelham is a writer and actress living in London. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 4 years ago following a major depressive episode. she had recently been caught up in the Asian tsunami. Sophie is currently performing her one-woman show “Call Me If You Feel Too Happy”, co-written with former journalist Nicola Albon, at the Edinburgh Fringe. The Stage newspaper called the show “funny, poignant and insightful”. Maybe the same could be said for Sophie’s answers to 13 Questions?

Uppermost in my mind today is ...

Getting back into doing the show after my first day off in about six months. it was great, I slept quite a lot, watched a couple of other shows and nursed a small hangover as I didn’t have to perform myself.
Sophie Pelham in her Edinburgh show

I want to ban ...

Children in restaurants, I probably shouldn’t say that should I? I don’t dislike children per se, it’s just the way everyone coos at them even if they are throwing things around. If I did that I’d get sectioned.

Not a lot of people know that I ...

Am an insomniac who listens to a ‘Just William’ audiobook to get to sleep, I know it off by heart; Martin Jarvis is my best friend.

The best piece of advice I would pass on is ...

Embrace what makes you different and enjoy your individuality. For me that’s about accepting the fact I have bipolar, which can mean extremes of personality. It’s about not being embarrassed by it and not trying to be ‘normal’. I try to enjoy it because that’s what makes me different.

I struggle with ...

Organisation. Of my life, other people’s lives and anything that’s in my hands - I’m very untidy, I leave a trail of destruction behind me which I understand even if no one else does.

I excel at ...

Shopping, especially clothes shopping, particularly when I’m manic. Actually nowadays I think I use that as a small excuse for my habit.

My ideal dinner guest would be ...

Peter Sellers, but as he’s dead I guess it would have to be John Cleese. I love Fawlty Towers and Monty Python and we could do funny walks together.

If I didn’t live in the UK, I’d live in ...

New York. I’ve lived there before and I love it because there’s always something happening there. Instead of some drunk Irishman on the underground you get amazing breakdancers on the subway; it feels like you’re always in a movie.

Where do you spend most of your time?

In my head. Not trapped as such, but analysing, daydreaming and wondering.
Sophie Pelham in a scene from her show

My first job was ...

In a denture factory, which is probably why I now brush my teeth 3 times a day.

“Call Me If You Feel Too Happy” is ...

A one woman show based on my own experience of being diagnosed with bipolar. In the show I play a vast range of characters from my shrink to fellow patients at The Priory. I am incredibly honest about what I have been through and I wanted to tell my story not only because I knew it would make an interesting and funny piece of theatre but because I wanted to inform people about a condition which is massively misunderstood.

Exploring the issue of mental health through comedy ...

Reveals the real person behind the illness, and shows how mental health doesn’t always mean white coats and straightjackets. By inviting people to laugh at it you break certain stereotypes.

My favourite piece of feedback from the show has to be ...

“You’ve made my day!” This came from a woman who has had bipolar disorder for 40 years. She told me how brilliant it was to be able to relate to the character and seemed to really love the show.

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