WELL-known St Helens poet Lynn Gerrard is famed for her sharp wit and dark humour, but behind the moniker she faces some serious and deep-rooted mental health issues.

As part of our We Can! women's wellbeing campaign, we spoke to Lynn - aka the Grumbling Gargoyle -, who has forged a career out of expression and performance despite struggling with anxiety, depression, panic attacks and OCD, which leave her unable to leave home alone.

Lynn's creative life began with the 'Stand Up to Stigma' project at Central Library, which encouraged participants to create and perform comedy routines to improve mental health.

After this confidence boost, and with the support of loved ones, Lynn started to publish micro-poems on social media, which soon caught the attention of a publisher Wallace Publishings, which offered her a four-book contract.

An only child, born in St Helens, Lynn says life was "a sequence of devastating events" after her parents split when she was five.

She said: "My mother told me that I came out of the womb writing.

"Essentially, however, I've always had a keen interest and appreciation of the arts in general but my becoming part of that scene as a published writer came about quite by accident."

She says she "cried like a child" when her first book 'Darkness and Decadence' was published.

She said: "Being 'out there' frightens me for a number of reasons so, rather than decline into a vegetative state, I write - but it's far from easy for me to do so much of the time because of the health problems, but I won't give up.

"I'm not very strong in the self-worth department so to even contemplate that anyone would want to publish my stuff was quite staggering."

She is sharing her own struggles with Star readers in the hope that it will help others through similar problems.

She said: "The consequence of my past is that my present is peppered with numerous psychological disorders including depression, severe anxiety, panic attacks and varying levels of OCD.

"I'd rather avoid people than be with them. Not because I am anti-people but because I find it very difficult to cope with the proximity of others. I am completely incapable of going outside alone because life and its noise and its sensory intrusions confuse, disturb and terrify me."

She says walking into a supermarket can trigger a panic attack due to the "sharp invasion of colour and erratic shapes that seem to zoom at you until they become a disconcerting blur".

She adds "overcoming these challenges is a work in progress" but certain things are in place to help her through this.

To women who face similar challenges, she says: "Don't let the world make you feel like an outsider.

"Your life is as precious as everyone else's but it doesn't have to be like everyone else's. It is ok to be yourself. Let the world adjust to you."