So I’ve written a book. It was a hard slog showing up every day with a gaping chasm of a blank page staring at me. And spending ages hacking away at sentences to get them just right. Not to mention the years of getting the whole tone and voice right. So after nearly 19 years of putting it back on… Read more →
Peer Supported Open Dialogue is revolutionising the way people are treated in the mental health services. It developed in Finland after their mental health system collapsed. Finland had had the worst statistics in Europe for schizophrenia. Now it has the best.
A group of family therapists got together and asked, how can we do it better? Open Dialogue is the answer. It is based on a totally different model to the current one which adopts the brain chemical imbalance theory. It brings together the social network of the person at the centre of concern (the patient) and encourages all those voices to be heard. It taps into the power of the social network, so that it takes an active part in the healing of the family member. It sees mental health problems as a symptom of the social network breaking down and so it aims to repair them. It is a social model that believes in the power of the individual within the collective to heal.
It is being introduced by Dr Russell Razzaque author of the radical book Breaking Down Is Waking Up. And Green Lane Films (my production company) has been asked to film it. My personal and professional life have finally joined and had children! And this video is the offspring.
Melinda Messenger features in this clip that I shot at the Open Dialogue Conference in London earlier this year. Melinda is doing a Transpersonal Psychotherapy training and is the Patron of the UK Spiritual Crisis Network.
If you want to know more about Peer Supported Open Dialogue sign up to the POD Bulletin.
I wrote the last sentence of my book this morning. Whoop whoop! High Five! Backflips all round… Over two years of discipline and commitment, not to mention the amount of wading through the quagmire of my sabotaging mind. My confidence in my writing has increased with the help of some critique from Elizabeth Diamond. I sent her another 20,000 words… Read more →
If you need something to validate your experiences and help you understand them in a better light you would do well to read Servants Of The Sacred Dream by Linda Hartley. Here’s an extract: “A person going through a process of profound inner change is often viewed by society as mentally ill, suffering a pathological condition that needs to be treated… Read more →
Here’s an extract taken from the last episode, when I’ve just come out of hospital:
“It’s so good to be home where I can potter around, make healthy meals and listen to the radio. I have it on as a soundtrack to my cooking. Like the classic Morecambe and Wise breakfast sketch where they dance to the striptease tune, I move around to the music. Taking a side step and sliding my other foot, Tango like, to join my first, before opening the cupboard door. Reaching for a pan and twisting to the hob and placing it deliberately on the beat. My every move is a dance, connected through the fabric of space, to the rhythm of the Universe. Even when the radio is switched off, I still feel the pulsing of life taking me as its partner.”
I’ve just sent off my next 10,000 words to Elizabeth Diamond to critique. This means I am now a third of the way into the book. It doesn’t feel nearly as daunting as it did in the beginning. I’m well into episode 3 of 7. I have bullet point notes that I made after each episode to jog my memory… Read more →
Here’s another extract with reference to a piece of music in. This time a classical number. Another one for the Booktrack soundtrack to my ebook.
“We’ve booked tickets to see a string quartet performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which isn’t the kind of thing either of us would normally go to. But it’s so cultured in Venice that a classical concert feels compulsory so the poster stood out. It’s one we both know. Who doesn’t?
“It’s a fairly small space and the audience is sitting at the same level as the musicians. As the music begins, I try to picture a spring landscape so that I can connect with what Vivaldi was trying to portray. But it’s no use; I’m distracted, searching for the advert I’m only half remembering. Maybe it’s an airline company. Marco Polo Business Class with Cathay Pacific? Definitely something trying to get across a sense of class. I lure myself away from this thought by deliberately imagining a fawn frolicking in a woodland. But that doesn’t work either. It’s usurped by an image of a bunch of people dancing around a Baroque Ballroom in 18th Century grey wigs and too much white face powder. Then faint memories of another commercial steal my attention away again. How am I supposed to enjoy this? The music has so many associations my ears are too biased to hear it properly.
“I decide to stop trying so hard and instead I focus on the musicians’ bows moving in unison: two violins, a viola and a cello. I watch their fingers moving quickly across the strings and let out a sigh as I relax in my seat.
“Around each player is a purple glow, the same colour auras I saw in the hospital years ago. When I tense up they disappear but when I relax they appear again. I deliberately tighten up and let go a few more times to test this theory. I can definitely only see them when I’m in a relaxed state. They can’t possibly be hallucinations.”
Another music extract that hasn’t been through the critique process for you this week.
“Back home I feel great. I put on a Nitin Sawhney album and stand in the middle of the room listening to the evocative sounds of the Indian instruments. A weird banjo like thing slides into a bluesy guitar. Then a male voice hums alongside a contemporary beat. A high female vocal in Hindi joins in, followed by a distant New York rapper.
“What do we do in these crazy times? I grab my synthetic white feather duster with a plastic handle and dance. A soulful woman’s voice takes the lead.
“Down by the river, Life flowing deeper, Tide growing stronger, No, you can’t hold can’t hold the river. The Hindi singer repeats her refrain between each verse bringing the sound of India into my living room. I stand with my feet wide apart and my hips pulse to the beat. There’s a strange pull in my lower belly, like a trickling stream made of air. The river is flowing through me.
“Inside my head I can hear it talking to me, Like the river to the ocean, I can feel it growing in me, And all day, all night, in the rhythm of the city, From the dusk to the dawn I can feel it flowing through me. I raise my right arm up to reach the cobwebbed corner above the stereo with the candyfloss like duster. A silky, liquid, golden, river of light flows from the handle to just below my belly button, where it is anchored. As I move the duster upwards, the ribbon grows longer to follow it. The gold is shimmering multi coloured, reflecting pink, purple and orange light like oil does on water. It looks like Computer Generated Imagery in a movie. I move my hand back towards me. Graceful folds take up the slack of the excess ribbon. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. They are perfectly spaced, sized and curved, the way a silken ribbon would curl and bounce.
“Down by the river, Life flowing deeper, Tide growing stronger, No, you can’t hold can’t hold the river. I dance on through to the kitchen clearing away the cobwebs. My body feels light and agile, a magical ribbon dancer.
“A jolt of fear rushes through me. What if I’m hallucinating? And the ribbon is gone.”
Are you ready for some strong cheese? I’m nervous about sharing this excerpt because it hasn’t been through the critique process of Elizabeth Diamond. But it’s another extract with an audio track so here goes:
“It’s a two-day bus ride from Auckland to Wanaka. I’m tired from rushing around jetlagged, sending off CVs to all the TV production companies in the capital. I’ve got myself a mobile and not expecting any calls for work immediately and I can’t get out of the city fast enough. It’s good to finally stop and let the world pass by through the window rather than having to go out and get it.
“I’m traveling alone, a trip I planned before Oscar and I got together. He looked hurt when I first mentioned it. But he’s seven years younger than I so I’m not taking the relationship that seriously. It’s the last year I qualify for a work visa now that I’m thirty and there’s nothing stopping him from joining me.
“Headphones on, I tune into a local radio station. Apart from the accent, there’s little to differentiate it from any other commercial stations back in the UK. Most of the songs are the same with the same over the top adverts. But it’s the soundtrack to my journey and I’m enjoying it in spite of myself. I watch the landscape change from an urban sprawl of tropical palm tree lined avenues to lush green hills and volcanic peaks.
“Na na na na na. Na na na na na. Ronan Keating catches me off guard with a jingly boyband beat, making my bus ride feel like a music video.
“Hey baby you really got my tail in a spin. Cut to a close up in my head of the bus wheel spinning.
“Hey baby I don’t even know where to begin. But baby I got one thing I want you to know. Wherever you go tell me ‘cause I’m gonna go. Cut to an image of Oscar walking down a wide, open highway singing to camera.
“We found love, so don’t hide it. Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it. I need you, so stop hiding. Our love is a mystery girl, let’s get beside it. The lyrics tug at my heart. I’ve come half way around the world to hear the UK’s No 1 tell me that I’ve found love. And I am hiding. My throat tightens up.
“Can’t you feel my heart? Don’t fight it fight it fight it. I wipe away the tears from my wet cheek and reach for the photo of Oscar in my purse.”