Just Words?

By February 19, 2012 Uncategorized

“Words are the most powerful thing in the universe… Words are containers. They contain faith, or fear, and they produce after their kind.” – Charles Capps   Interesting article in  the Independent – full text here – that highlights this:   ‘A major revision of the the 1994 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, whose fifth edition is due for publication next year, threatens to extend psychiatric diagnoses to millions of people currently regarded as normal…. Among the diagnostic labels …Read More

Spots of Brilliance

By February 9, 2012 Blog

A few months ago, I painted our gate – red, with blue polka dots.  I was inspired in part by a woman called Yayoi Kusama – perhaps the world’s most celebrated mental patient. Kusama has been hailed as one of the most important female artists in the world. In 2008, one of her paintings was sold for $5.8 million – the record at that time, for any living female artist. Kusama’s battle with mental illness has shaped her art and …Read More

Fight the Fear

By January 30, 2012 Blog

I don’t know about you, but I’m a natural Eeyore. My glass is often half-empty – even when there’s plenty of drinking left. Tiggers – (like my husband), leave me dizzy and bewildered.  All that joy and bounce – there’s simply no need. Yet all too often, I’ll use my natural disposition as an excuse: justification for acting lumpy.   The thoughts go like this: I’m a melancholy person – not just a misery-guts.  I’m over-burdened: not over-committed.  I’m depressed, …Read More

Baby Steps

By January 25, 2012 Blog

I was reading an interview yesterday with Susan Boyle, (the singer who won X Factor and was catapulted from ordinary life to worldwide celebrity).  Understandably, Boyle struggled to cope with this transition and her mental health was gleefully discussed and dissected in the media. But more than the time she spent in therapy, I was struck by a phrase she’d learned from her mum: and one that I learned from mine too. ‘Baby steps’. ‘Baby steps’ means a number of …Read More

Food For Thought

By October 18, 2011 Blog, OCD

Maybe the way to handle some neuroses is to channel them. I was thinking that this morning as I passed a woman wearing a gorgeous patterned skirt. I smiled at her and then my OCD brain kicked into gear and mentally tidied it. Same thing happens when I see stripes. I want to scoop them up and tie them together. But perhaps that excess stress and energy  could be used for good. Instead of alphabeticising soups, I could save the whales. …Read More

Helping the Sick

By June 21, 2011 Blog

Mental health services in the UK are at crisis point due to overcrowding and staff shortages, according to the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Professor Dinesh Bhugra claims that many sick patients are being discharged back into society, putting both themselves and others at risk. 14% of consultants’ posts are either unfilled or filled by a locum.  Not enough British medics are choosing to train as psychiatrists, but visa restrictions means that foreign doctors cannot meet the shortfall. …Read More

When Words Fail

By June 1, 2011 Blog

Been talking to a friend who’s going through a really rough time right now. Searching for the words to encourage her, to rekindle her fight.  But perhaps there aren’t any.  Perhaps it’s a matter of praying and listening and being there. Perhaps, in some situations, there just aren’t any answers. Facing the past and facing your fears is not like an episode of Oprah.  There aren’t always cameras, recording your successes.  A studio audience, cheering you on.  A make-up and …Read More

Crazy in Love?

By May 12, 2011 Blog

I’ve written before about the stigma that attaches to mental health problems. Even within your family or closest friends, it can be difficult to be honest about your struggles – let alone when it comes to dating. There’s a fine line between being honest about what you can and can’t take on and writing people off without getting to know them. So I was interested to hear about the growth of dating websites, set up specifically for people with these …Read More


By May 9, 2011 Blog

Writing in last week’s Guardian, Clare Allen, who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, says this: ‘Diagnoses of mental health problems feel personal in a way that physical health problems don’t…a personality disorder is precisely that, a disordered personality; the problem is not an illness, the problem is you.’ Names are important.  They not only describe, but circumscribe.  They explain, but they also imprison.  When we label others, we ‘re often making value judgements not just about them, but …Read More

Insanity: A Beginner’s Guide

By February 28, 2011 Blog

I’ve been reading about the history of mental health and it’s fascinating. Here’s a very, very potted, vastly oversimplified version, with my apologies to anyone who really knows anything about it: Thousands of years ago our ancestors reckoned that demons and evil spirits could get in through our heads. The earliest sort of brain surgery was called ‘trepanning’ and involved cutting a circular hole in the head to let the evil spirits out. What’s most surprising about this is that …Read More