Before I share an excerpt, here's a little bit about the book.
Graham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained.
Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamourise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.Start was published by Fledgling Press on 10th October 2018 and is available from Waterstones, Amazon UK and Amazon US.
And here's a short extract from the book:
FORGIVE ME ALL OF YOU - PLEASE
I have never sat by someone I love with all my heart and wondered whether the next day that person will have killed themself.
I have never been laughing with someone I love, taking a rare break by the shore in Leith, having a drink on the quayside while our son sleeps peacefully in the car, only to have to hear that love suddenly reveal that the beautiful sparkles on the water are spirits staring at him, warping his thoughts, that he needs to go back to the house, that he needs to be with the sacredness of the wood and the soil. That he will live under the floorboards of the house and fight a battle with the evil spirits, that there is nothing wrong with him but this fight and that he needs no help and no medication and that it will be all alright.
As I write this I am aghast at how blind I am at what I did.
I have spent a page or so saying that my wife was abusive in some ways and so, if she was that, what was I?
What was I when I would sit blankly, sullenly in the chair at home, on those rare occasions when I agreed to come up out of the dirt and the dark, dressed up in oilies and hats because they were protecting me from the thoughts that were being altered by the spirits? And she would sit and try to persuade me to eat.
What was I doing when I would try to stub cigarettes out on my hands only to be stopped by the sobs of my wife begging me not to?
What was I when I refused medication, refused to go to hospital and then decided to go to hospital after all, only to be held back by my wife who said she would love me, look after me, keep me safe, keep me from the horrors I went into when I was in hospital?
And she did keep me safe, did stop me from descending, full flood into terror. And she looked after our son when he would toddle up to the trapdoor I used and point down and say, 'Daddy.’
She would hold our son when I would look at him and burst out crying, and she would hold me later when I would allow myself to be held, and is it any wonder that she was exhausted and tired and angry?
Is it any wonder that as those years went by she found herself with someone she loved but thought of as alien, as a stranger? Someone, who, now he was on medication, and who, when she cuddled up to him at night, she found even smelled different?
Is it any wonder that she became more distant when I was held back in the hospital after attending the day clinic, having been found with a razor blade, about to cut my wrist; speaking to them, convincing them that she had the strength, the ability to look after me at home. That being away from family, being confined to a ward would only make me worse, make my existence all that more terribly risky, that much more a matter of life and death. That she would be strong again and in between caring for and loving my son, bringing laughter into his life, she would be there for me. The person she no longer knew but who she loved and treasured and who she so much wanted to come back to her, to come back to her as the gentle, skinny, smiley, passionate person she once knew.
Wow! Such honest, raw, powerful words. And a book well worth reading.