Equilibrium Magazine 48

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>> Mindfulness >> Arts & Reviews >> Hearing Voices Network >> Exercise (your self-control) >> An evening of Anti-Psychiatry >> News, views and opinions

Equilibrium Patron Dr Liz Miller Mind Champion 2008

Front cover: Azure D Osborne-Lee: ‘Small Golden Blessing�

web alerts If you know anyone who would like to be on our mailing list and get the magazine four times a year (no spam!) please email: equilibriumteam@hotmail.co.uk (www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium). Equilibrium is devised, created, and produced entirely by team members with experience of the mental health system. Photo copyright remains with all individual artists and Equilibrium. All rights reserved. 2011

Design: www.parkegraphics.co.uk


editorial Despite the jack-in-the-box nature of this year’s spring (coming and going and taking us all by surprise!) hopefully our Spring issue of Equilibrium will channel some positivity in your direction, whether you’re browsing through it over breakfast in the garden or huddled up in bed in three blankets and a scarf! We hope you enjoy this season’s articles from both the team and guest writers, and thanks to everyone who sent us their spring pictures for the front cover - we loved them all! Although it is a tempestuous time at the moment, with a new round of biting cuts taking effect, a picture of a lamb or two still puts a big smile on our faces.

disclaimer Equilibrium is produced by service users. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly forbidden without the prior permission of the Equilibrium team. Products, articles and services advertised in this publication do not necessarily carry the endorsement of Equilibrium or any of our partners. Equilibrium is published and circulated electronically four times a year to a database of subscribers; if you do not wish to receive Equilibrium or have received it by mistake, please email unsubscribe to equilibriumteam@hotmail.co.uk

the team Facilitator/ Editor: Kate Massey-Chase. Editorial team: Pumla Kisosonkole, Angela, Dev Chatterjea, Ian Stewart Graphic design: Anthony Parké.

contact us Equilibrium, Clarendon Centre, Clarendon Road, London, N8 ODJ. 02084894860, equilibriumteam@hotmail.co.uk. We are in the office on Friday afternoons 2.30-4.30, but you can leave a message at other times and we’ll get back to you.

contributions Wanted: contributions to Equilibrium! Please email us with your news, views, poems, photos, plus articles. Anonymity guaranteed if required.




LISTENING TO... Kate: Dilemma on Radio 4, a panel show chaired by Sue Perkins, discussing moral conundrums; some great music suggested on the blogs Yes Miss Fox (http://yesmissfox.wordpress.com/) and Creativise (http://creativise.wordpress.com/) – their ‘Tuesday Tunes’ and ‘Mid-week Melodies’, respectively, have been introducing me to some new favourites Anthony: Bollywood singing – we’ve broken the car radio and it’s stuck on a random station! Ian: Mark Knofler & Emmy Lou Harris’ new CD Dev: ‘80s/90s disco, classical, Indian music – all sorts! I like to mix things up and swap between genres. Polly: A lot of baroque! Marcia: ‘Adorn’ by Miguel. At first I liked it for the soul sound, and now I really like the lyrics too. GOING TO... Kate: I’ve been going to yoga for about 6 months now and love it! I’ve also been for a weekend in Prague with my mum, and to the theatre loads – I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing Spymonkey’s Cooped, National Theatre’s One Man Two Guvnors, and Snuff Box Theatre’s Bitch Boxer. Anthony: Life-drawing classes. Lots of naked bodies, which I obviously look at in a very objective and professional way. It’s nice to keep in touch with the basics. Ian: Group meditation, run by the Meditation Trust, where I’ve been discussing experiences of meditation and enjoyed the opportunity to meditate together with others, which can result in a more profound experience. Polly: Macbeth with James Macavoy and Claire Foy, and The Trial a site-specific journey in Shoreditch by Retz Theatre Company. Marcia: The cinema to see Django Unchained, which was really good.


Summer/ Issue 38

WATCHING... Kate: Call the Midwife, based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, set in East London in the 1950s. I love the combination of Jenny Agutter, Vanessa Redgrave, Pam Ferris and Miranda Hart, and also the fact that it’s so pro-NHS; I hope Jeremy hunt watches it! Anthony: I’ve been forced to watch Teen Mum and One Born Every Minute against my will, when I’d prefer to be watching Arnold Schwarzenegger! Ian: A range of arts programmes on BBC4, particularly enjoying the ones on painter’s lives. Pumla: Searching for inspiration, but finding it hard to settle with anything. Any recommendations for something to follow? Routine can be good for the soul! Dev: I like to watch a lot of comedy, from South Park and Family Guy, to The Two Ronnies. I recently watched a film called Sometimes in April, a historical drama about the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, which was very affecting. The only thing I can’t stand is horror movies – my brother made me watch The Day of Reckoning, which was really scary! Polly: The Challenger – a one-off drama about the enquiry into the 1986 space-shuttle disaster Marcia: I loved watching Mr Selridge – I couldn’t get enough of it! Lots of funny moments, affairs, secrets coming to light, and a bit of the history of the time. READING... Ian: Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell, the second book in the Alexandria Quartet. Anthony: Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning Kate: Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot; also enjoy my free weekly copy of Stylist on the tube, and reading the satirical articles on The Daily Mash (current favourite: ‘Spring thinks it’s too late to start now’, http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/environment/spring-thinks-itstoo-late-to-start-now-2013040564772) Pumla: Bits of The Guardian I find on the 144 – beats the Metro! Polly: Gardens of Stone – cracking autobiography of somebody in the French Resistance. Marcia: Yesterday I read an interesting article in Mature Times, which is about issues that affect older people, about health risks for over 60s, including some information about Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. As more than 8 in 10 bowel cancer cases are in people over 60.



Photo: Anthony


Summer/ Issue 38

An Evening of Anti-Psychiatry Nottingham Contemporary Gallery

In February, I went to an Anti-Psychiatry

a special interest in Basaglia, Turin and

evening at Nottingham Contemporary

Gorizia and the Italian movement to close

Gallery, for a selection of excellent events

asylums (without much thought of what

and discussion.

would come after). Next, Howard Caygill – a philosopher from Kingston inter alia –

First, there was a film by Dora Garcia (The

who gave a powerful talk about a particu-

Deviant Majority (From Basaglia to Brazil)

lar statue in Arezzo, Italy, commemorating

2010) flipping from Basaglia’s Triests/Gorizia

those with mental distress, closely examin-

anti-asylum movement, to powerful thea-

ing where it was in the garden of the old

tre sessions with ‘service users’ in Trieste,

asylum, which way it faced, how it juxta-

punctuated by stark text-on-screen in the

posed against an old statue hidden in the

film The Inadequate. There were interviews

shrubbery. Next David Reggio – also from

with ‘70s protest leader Carmen Roll from

Kingston – a Brazil expert. Well mediated

the SPK (Socialist Patients Collective, later

by Isobel Whitelegg.

allied with the Red Army Faction). Strong stuff. Anti-psychiatry then seemed to be

To catch up with this and the night after

anti-asylum, anti-capitalism, grown from

(Duncan Double and others at the core

the student protests and other protest

of the critical psychiatry movement) go

groups sweeping parts of Europe.

to: http://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/event/anti-psychiatry-part-1 and

Then there was a fabulous discussion:

watch the filmed events.

First John Foot, a UCL (University College London) historian who has developed

Polly Mortimer




Summer/ Issue 38

Exercise (your self-control)


s a former professional athlete, and current service-user, my single most important piece of fitness advice to other service users is abstinence and moderation. The service-user community has a high level of social drug use, particularly nicotine and alcohol (as well as some prevalence of illegal drug use). Prescription medication is not yet sufficiently advanced to avoid the occurrence of debilitating – not to mention embarrassing – side effects. To overcome extrapyramidal side-effects such as tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements), obesity and low mood, may I recommend or introduce service-users to moderate exercise, such as walking, cycling and low-resistance weight training, yoga, tai chi or similar; if you’re brave enough, not to mention young enough (I’m 52 years old in 2013) you can also try dancing. Mental illness can be considered to age service-users prematurely, so don’t forget the tried and tested rules of training for strength, stamina and suppleness (the 3Ss):

- Avoid excess in known hazardous – even socially acceptable – drugs, like nicotine and alcohol. - Maintain a well-balanced, high protein, diet, avoiding carbohydrates, the commonest source of obesity. - Try to enjoy well-prepared, regular meals; for further dietary advice contact the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (http:// www.ion.ac.uk/) or speak to your GP or pharmacist. Also remember, taking a little bit of what you like and simply enjoying eating does you good. Vitamin supplements and secondary treatments, such as Chinese herbal medicine, massage, saunas, and maintaining the most achievable level of personal care in terms of clothing and self-presentation will also lift mood, especially if you enjoy shopping! To end this piece, I offer this advice: if you can’t exercise your body, exercise your mind.

Allan Malik Dennis-Smith is a former personal fitness instructor and employee at London Sports Forum for Disabled People.

Image: totalhealthstartshere.wordpress.com


Mindfulness Kate Massey-Chase Photo: Sarah Lines


n 28th March, I joined a staggering

only been involved in JKZ’s mindfulness

1000 other people at the Friend’s

course for parliamentarians (I wish they’d

House on the Euston Road for An

make it compulsory in Whitehall!), but will

evening with John Kabat-Zinn. Famed for

also be involved in a pilot study to reform

bringing Mindfulness to the West, 35 years

PSHE (Personal, Social, Health Education)

ago, the evening was a celebration and

in schools, including adding mindfulness to

further investigation into this practice: ‘an

the curriculum. But, rather than going off on

adventure into the art of conscious living’.

a tangential rant about the need for cohe-

The event was run by Action for Happiness,

sive, consistent and relevant emotional and

and introduced by their chair, Mark William-

social education in our schools (a matter

son, an organisation whose prime concern

close to my heart), I shall try and stick to JKZ

is to take action to try and create a happier

and mindfulness for the moment – and mind-

world. They do this by looking both outside

fulness is all about the moment!

– calling on political leaders and those with the power to change policy – and inside

Mindfulness – a practice rather than a tech-

at the self, in an endeavour to maximise

nique, as it is something you cannot simply

human wellbeing.

learn and store away somewhere, but more a way of living in the world, ideally a way of

JKZ (as I shall call him, for ease) was

living that is practised and observed daily – is

welcomed to the stage by Lord Rich-

drawn from the principles of Buddhist medi-

ard Layard, the economist – and Labour

tation, and is essentially the act of being with

peer – who made the economic case for

our experience as it is unfolding, moment

IAPT (Improving Access for Psychologi-

by moment. JKZ described it as ‘the aware-

cal Therapy) to the Labour government in

ness that arises intentionally, in the present

2006. I was thrilled to hear Layard had not

moment, non-judgementally’. Or something


Summer/ Issue 38



like that – it was quite hard to be in the

hard to explain in a few

moment, listen, and frantically scribble

paragraphs or pages, and

notes all at the same time! But breaking it

thus actually doing it was

down into its necessary components, it is:

important to the discussion. I found myself repeat-

Awareness: This is not ‘doing nothing’,

edly trying to explain it in

but ‘non-doing’: waking up to the world

my head throughout the

around us; being present without an

evening, knowing my part-


ner would ask when I go home what it had been

Intentional: Interestingly, he described it as

about. And, pre-emptive

‘a radical act to wake up early and take

of her questioning, trying to

your seat every morning’, particularly in a

answer: But what purpose

world where distractions seem everywhere;

does it serve? And, as I was

intentionally being in the moment, rather

trying to be mindful, my

than the past or future.

thoughts were going: Yes, it’s all very nice to have some quiet time, to

Present: Right now, this very moment.

reflect, but… although, hang on, we’re in the now, aren’t we? So, we’re not reflect-

Non-judgemental: He talked about the

ing, we’re….what are we doing again? Oh

importance of cultivating an ‘affectionate

yes, trying not to think. Eek, I’ve ruined it:

attention’; ‘putting the welcome mat out

I’m thinking. And now I’m worrying about

for things as they are’.

thinking. Which is even worse! Arghhh, I’m really bad at this! So goes the mind chatter.

Mindfulness is essentially being fully mindful, physically, emotionally, mentally of the

JKZ says: ‘We need to get out of our own

now; my favourite thing he said was ‘Now

way, to the silence underneath and

is the now. Check your watch – it’s now

between every sound’. But, as a rela-

again’. As a group of over 1000 individu-

tive novice, it’s hard not to want to shout:

als we all came together in a moment of

‘How?!!’ Yet – and as an educationalist, this

formal meditation, quite early on in the

is something I hold true for many things – he

evening, which JKZ instigated by rolling his

says we should covet a beginner’s mind,

sleeves up and saying, ‘Let’s arrive’. Mind-

the place where we see things newly,

fulness is complex in its simplicity and very

freshly, and non-judgmentally. He also


Summer/ Issue 38

repeatedly reinforced that

radical, sitting down in silence action it

you can’t develop muscles

may be – to transform the world we live

without resistance, so the

it. And although he told us, ‘You’re fine

fact that trying to be a

the way you are’, none of us would be

human being, rather than a

worse for being mindful of the world in

human doing, is hard is part

which we live, at this moment, exactly as

of the process. And part of

it is and we are. Interestingly, in all Asian

why this is a practice, rather

languages the word for heart and mind is

than a technique. He used

the same thing; mindfulness is also heart-

the analogy of thoughts


as weather patterns in the mind, drifting across, which is

If you need more convincing to take a

a metaphor I find really help-

quiet seat every morning and attune

ful, and will certainly use to

yourself to the cosmos, there is also some

calm my chattering mind.

amazing sciencey stuff to do with epigenetics, biochemistry, enzymes and

I worried that it could be seen as ego-

things, which I’m probably not clever

centric and self-absorbed to dedicate

enough to explain, so you might want to

that much time to yourself (which is indic-

google. Although the crux of it was that

ative of both my own hang ups regard-

daily practice of mindfulness leads to

ing guilt over self-compassion, and that

greater emotional balance, caused by

I find any talk of ‘cultivating the garden

more left than right brain activation in the

of the heart’ flips my sceptical switch

pre-frontal cortex, and greater anti-body

on). But – and really there doesn’t need


to be a ‘but’ to justify it, but I’ll slip one in for other sceptics out there – mindfulness

If mindfulness is therefore an ‘act of love,

looks out as well as in, and is also about

sanity and self-compassion’, which has a

‘being in wise relationship with the suffer-

positive impact on not just my emotional

ing and happiness around us’, learning

but also my physical wellbeing, and

self-compassion and compassion for

which also builds compassion for others,

others. JKZ also highlighted the urgency

then I’m sold. And you can do it sitting

of it: destruction is woven into our human

down – brilliant!

nature, and we need to take action –





Summer/ Issue 38

IMAGES BY: Leigh Johnstone, Alyssa Grace Sorresso, Tom Leman, Sarah Lines and Emily.J.Barrow



A PORTRAIT OF JAMES A Submissions to the BP Portrait Awards, 2013 - AGAIN! Anthony J. Parke


Summer/ Issue 38

kate wants inro how ot into painting


’ve always been interested in painting

clothes they were wearing. In some way

people, mainly because I’ve always

these aspects added to the understand-

been awe-struck by the capabilities

ing of the sitter, offered a gateway into

of so many portrait artists I’ve come

that person’s life. Of course this gateway

across over the years. My initial attempts

can be found by many other means too,

at portraits (reaching back some twenty

through the features (though I don’t believe

years or so), were what I harshly regard as

mine ever did), something about the way

second-rate; but over the years I’ve gradu-

the paint is handled, the colour, the line, in

ally improved and this is mainly due to

fact the list is endless. But those two aspects

researching a myriad of techniques until

mentioned above, for me at least, stood

I found one that suited. So with gradual


improvements I find myself entering the BP Portrait Awards for the third consecutive

Of course there are always exceptions

year (all previous submissions rejected).

to the rule (and this may not even be the rule!): notably Michael Gaskell’s tempera

On previous occasions I’d submitted quite

portraits which are free of any narra-

conventional portraits, usually female, look-

tive element. One could hardly say that

ing quite classical, and tightly cropped to

anything in his exceptional portraits offered

the head. I noticed what I took to be a

an overt insight into the sitter’s psyche;

difference between my paintings and those

there is no narrative at play. However the

being selected. It was by no means some-

majority of submissions seem to me to both

thing which appeared across the board,

carry a narrative and be three-quarter or

but certainly in many instances: a) many

full length.

portraits had a narrative element, sometimes subtle, sometimes prominent, and

This is not an exact science, and nor should

b) the portraits were usually three-quarter

it be. But considering these aspects at least

length or full length.

allowed me to come up with what I now regard as my most successful portrait. (Am I

The setup for the narrative was the environ-

allowed to say that?)

ment, usually a living room, a work place, an outdoor backdrop. It could be the

This years portrait of my brother James is by

way the sitter was seated or standing, the

no means a choreographed painting solely cont.



cont. designed to cynically meet some covert

their features and posture and physical

criteria of the BP Awards. No doubt many

context – and in doing so striving to come

artists to some degree tailor their work to try

closer to capturing a fairer, more rounded

and ‘fit’ the awards. And why not. I simply

representation that person.

felt a narrative context and three-quarter size pose would allow me a greater prospect

Whether the portrait gets in this year is

of selection. This is of course an international

perhaps not the important thing. Perhaps the

stage for portrait artists, and commissions can

real award for this year’s submission has been

come off the back of exhibiting here.

stepping outside of a very comfortable way of painting portraits, and exploring some-

I knew a portrait of James would generate an

thing a little more provocative. It’s essentially

image which would be striking, which would

the difference between paintings done

have that narrative element; and of course,

for commission, and paintings which I may

I wanted to ensure it would be three-quarter

choose to do for myself. I now have a clearer

length. I also wanted it to be a painting which

understanding of what I might like to paint for

represented the journey I’m currently on as

myself. Which is a small reward in itself.

a painter, which is one of not limiting myself. And having completed this submission I feel my painterly toolkit is far broader than it was prior to the submission. My submission this year is of my brother, James. Now James was diagnosed with a severe mental illness at the ridiculously young age of fourteen. He is now 51. Suffering from Schizophrenia for that length of time, all the various drugs that have been pumped through his system, takes a toll, and that history becomes evident and etched into the features. His face stands out as being the face that belongs to a life that has been less than ordinary. But I guess it’s not enough to paint a face that is different. It’s about painting that person’s life, sensing their life through Contact: www.parkepaintings.com www.anthonyparke.blogspot.co.uk


Summer/ Issue 38

Brain synchronicity and the Neanderthals There is a theory that Neanderthals, ‘who flourished between 200,000 and 30,000 years ago and who share 99.84% of their DNA with us’, may have had some sort of language which they used to enable themselves to hunt together; indeed it would have been difficult without it. Living in groups of four or five and having to deal with the technology they had of shaping stone heads for their spears or dealing with the incidents of being injured during their hunting, communication would have been vital. They therefore could have been exposed to ‘problems that modern humans face, such as schizophrenia’. Interestingly, the theory ‘puts the disease down to brain coordination problems between the brains left and right hemispheres’ (The Inner Neanderthal: New Scientist 14 January 2012). This draws an interesting parallel with a point I picked up on in a previous article that illustrated the way that people who practise Transcendental Meditation techniques have shown increased brain synchronicity and a decrease in stress levels. This in turn is an example of the utility of becoming more aware of our individual evolutionary paths and how nature allows for a solution that helps man reach ever upwards to the potential he has for greater happiness. Ian Stewart

Literature and the Brain According to research, so an article in the Telegraph reports (Julie Henry, 17/01/13), reading the classics can give the brain a boost in terms of producing more electrical activity. Reading more challenging subjects such as the poetry of Wordsworth or the work of Shakespeare caused the monitoring of brain activity to light up, more so than less challenging material. An English professor working on the study is quoted as saying: “Serious literature acts like a rocket booster to the brain. The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and staid alike.” The research involving 30 volunteers showed that unfamiliar words caused brain activity to peak and primed the brain “for more attention.” Later the researchers intend to try to understand how psychology can be affected and whether or not there is any therapeutic benefit. Ian Stewart



A Funding Fog Kate Massey-Chase


rom September to July last year,

a platform for the women’s voices and

CoolTan Arts, a charity run by and

recognition of their talent.

for adults with mental distress, ran

a women’s poetry group which I facili-

Since March 2011, however, CoolTan has

tated. With a strong belief that mental

lost 100% of its service-level agreement

wellbeing is enhanced by the power of

with the South London and Maudsley

creativity, their chief executive Michelle

NHS Foundation Trust in the wake of the

Baharier identified two reasons in particu-

‘Personalisation’ programme of personal

lar to set up a women’s poetry group:

budgets, introduced by the Department

“The cathartic nature of words and

of Health (DoH). Personal budgets are

because in a male-dominated society

an allocation of funding given to some-

women’s spaces remain important.” At

one based on an assessment of their

the end of the project they published

needs, intended to help them design

an anthology of the participants’ work,

a package of social care support so


Summer/ Issue 38

that they gain more control over the support

ing Communities fund as a provision for those

they access. Rolled out in England since

missing out on personal budgets. That has

2008, although the original target of having

now ended and the remaining poetry group

all council-funded service-users on personal

is only open to men and women who pay

budgets has now been pushed back from

for their participation from their personal

April 2013 to 2015, personalisation remains

budget or other sources. Unfortunately several

the future of social care funding. However,

women who attended our workshops last

although intended to empower those in

year are not in receipt of this funding and are

need of community care services through

not in a financial position to attend, despite

greater choice and control, in practice it is

the benefits to their health and wellbeing.

hard to determine whether personalisation is triggering more service-user involvement or

Staying abreast of changes in policy and


provision is fundamental to preparing for any arts work in the margins, in order to both

Applying for a personal health budget can

respond to the needs of participants and

be a daunting process - a 30-page assess-

map out where the furrows are in the ever-

ment form, with different criteria for eligibility

changing terrain – holes and gullies through

in different boroughs. Speaking to Edward

which the vulnerable can fall, depending

Omeni, a researcher from King’s College

on where they sit in the hierarchy of need, or

London who ran a focus group on person-

indeed which borough they live in. We know

alisation with CoolTan participants, he

that the arts can make a difference to the

suggested that the complexity of the appli-

lives of those who engage with them. After

cation process – and the problem of profes-

her first workshop, one poet said: “When I

sionals still not knowing enough themselves

started the class today I couldn’t even read

– has meant that service-users are trying to

the poem. And now, in two hours, I’ve not

be their own social workers, navigate the

only read and understood all of them, but

system and ultimately lose services. As one

I’ve also written my own - and it’s going to

participant said in a podcast on the subject:

be published! I finally feel like the grey fog in

“God knows what it really does mean! With

my brain has started to lift for the first time in

all bureaucratic words you sometimes feel

two years.” Her care support had not been

that something is getting a bit worse or more

‘personalised’ by policy, and without alterna-


tive funding, she might still be in the fog.

The women’s poetry group at CoolTan Arts

First published by Arts Professional, in Issue

was partly funded by the Big Lottery’s Reach-

263, Thursday 11 April 2013


Pastel Paintings by Dawn Laporte Created in the art class at the Clarendon Centre


Summer/ Issue 38



Jacqui Dillon and the Hearing Voices Network At the London Philosophy Club

Copyright © 2013 Jacqui Dillon./ www.jacquidillon.org

by Polly Mortimer


acqui took to the little platform stage

took us straight to the heart – voice-hearing

and talked ad hoc for an hour to a full

makes complete sense.

house on a snowy January night in East

London. It’s hard to summarise the pindrop

In the wider world voices are seen as ‘symp-

atmosphere and attentive audience at her

toms’ with an 80% chance of a ‘schizophre-


nia’ diagnosis, and those hearing voices who visit a psychiatrist will be given neuroleptics to

Starting by name-checking the great Judith

eradicate them. It’s said this ‘works’ for 33%

Hermann and those Dutch pioneers of the

of these people, and 67% ‘benefit’. Before

HVN, Marius Romme and Sandra Escher, she

psychiatry voice hearing was seen very differ-


ently. It’s a common experience with up to

People need to be asked ‘what’s your story?’

10% of people hearing voices. 2/3 of these

‘What’s happened to you?’

never see psychiatrists. Jacqui explained that hearing voices is a reaction to extreme things

HVN is not pointing the finger at the psychi-

happening, (PM - or which have happened),

atric profession but creating alternatives and

in people’s lives. The HVN is the polar opposite

moving beyond the status quo. Jacqui’s own

of the traditional approach; they understand

experience of voices has led her to feel they

and listen and enable survival. They support

are ‘communications from the unconscious’ –

people to listen and understand the voices.

they talk to each other and even dictate what

Voices are on a continuum of human experi-

she needs to write. She hears many voices:

ence. This supportive and person-centred

women, children, different accents. That begs

approach has spread to 26 countries with a

to question: what is the difference between a

US network kicking off – on a continent domi-

voice and a thought?

nated by profit-driven big pharma & the stranglehold of the insurance companies. Different

Psychiatrists are quick to dub voices ‘misattrib-

cultural backgrounds are much more accept-

uted inner speech’ and pathologies the expe-

ing of voice-hearing and hearers, far from the

rience. This does voices a disservice. The whole

taboo culture which equate voices with mad

‘thought’ and ‘voice’ area is a knotty one –

to bad to dangerous to unpredictable.

which is a thought, which is a voice? She has heard voices telling her to kill, but does not act

The 180 or so groups in England provide,

on them; one is responsible for one’s actions.

above all, a safe space to share experiences.

Treatment reduces risk.

Voice-hearers talk about their voices ‘knowing their Achilles Heel’ and their personal

Threatening voices need to be heard more

taboos. Theses groups give expertise and

about and engaged with. The hearer must be

share expertise. ‘You are the expert in your

kept safe.

own experience’. It is a process of empowerment – divorced from the dominant ‘expert’

Her definition of a good psychiatrist is one not

doctor and passive patient model. Those who

subscribing to DSM, someone who does not

are labeled ‘psychotic’ are frequently those

pathologies and recognizes distress as an ordi-

who are overwhelmed by distressing life expe-

nary human reaction. Someone who listens, is

riences, which are uncomfortable for people

humble and curious. They are more existential

to hear, often abuse, racism and/or poverty.

– concerned with the meaning of life. Jacqui’s cont.



cont. voices used to tell her to cut herself; through therapy she could untangle the cutting. It was a shame, anger and rage release. At the HVN meetings all explanations for

Divas Girly Talk

anything. She has developed a working rela-


tionship with her voices and renegotiated

how not to have unwanted pregnancies.

hearing voices are accepted. There is a respect for all in the group – whether they say their voices are aliens or neighbours or

s a young person, some girls are given the talk about the facts of life (i.e. ‘Where do babies come from?’). What

I was told from home and school, emphasized

power, and punctured their omnipotence. At school there was a girl who got pregnant Where do ideas come from and what does

at 15 years old. This young girl told a teacher

it mean metaphorically? She feels that those

everything. All the teachers and children were

on drugs who develop a psychosis ‘reveal’

eventually told. She remained anonymous (they

through drugs rather than have the psycho-

did not say her name), but it was obvious who it

sis ‘induced’. There are other things going

was. There was no objection to her returning to

on that lead someone to take drugs – there

school but she did not feel she could cope.

are reasons. Recovery is finding one’s own

My best friend has a teenage daughter. When

knowledge and power.

she was about 14 the first thing I told her about men, is not to bring an idiotic man to the house. I

So much has been done: creating safe

also gave her a card that said ’When is the best

spaces, training professionals, allying with

time to kiss a man? The card said WHEN HE’S

academics and professionals, writing, speak-

RICH!’ The whole family found it very funny. Is

ing, talking, tweeting. There is no need to

this right or is this right? I wrote in the card ‘Make

prove anything; she believes the evidence

sure you get a good man when you get big.’

is before our eyes. The evidence that someone has recovered. The qualitative

Then I noticed what some black Divas were sing-

evidence is the most important. ‘The Masters

ing about men. A Diva is a celebrated female

tools will not dismantle the Masters House’.

singer. The term is used to describe a woman of

The system is out of date and the training of

outstanding talent in the world of opera and by

psychiatrists out of date. Everything needs to

extension in theatre, cinema and popular music

be more humane.


This was such an inspiring evening and ques-

There was a diva called Gwen Guthrie who sang

tions could have flown here and there for

a song called ‘There ain’t nothing going on but

hours. I greatly admire Jacqui and the work

the rent’. This song is basically saying she does

she is doing. Here’s hoping HVN will go from

not want a man with no money.

strength to strength.


Summer/ Issue 38

by Angela

Gloria Gaynor sang a song called ‘I will survive’, which is very famous. This song is basically telling the man that she does like anymore, to get out of her life. Alesha Dixon sang a song called ‘The boy does nothing’. This song is talking about a man who does not do the housework. Janet Jackson sang a song called ‘What have you done for me lately? ‘Sunshine Anderson sang a song that she is fed up of her man’s lies. The above Divas are talking about the relationships they’ve had with men that are no good. Then I had to look at the other side of the coin and told her about some positive examples from Divas. The first example I told her about was the Tina Turner song called ‘Simply the Best’. It is a beautiful song and I like the words. I am surprised that she did not write a song about her former husband Ike Turner. Maybe she was too scared to sing about what she really thought about him. Or maybe it hurt too much. Chaka Khan sang a song called ‘Ain’t nobody loves me better’. She is basically singing a song about a man that made her very happy. I would like my friend’s daughter to be


choosey when it comes to having a relationship with the opposite sex. It’s best not to rush into things you will later regret, especially when you are young. I was born in the 60’s (don’t tell anyone!). If you are not careful love can be just a four letter word. The UK has the most under aged pregnancies in Europe, with 2.9 out of every 100 girls aged between 15 and 19 giving birth every year (‘UK tops league of teenage pregnancy’, Steve Dougherty, Daily Mail). I think this is quite negative for all concerned. Tina Turner asks ‘What’s Love got to do with it?’ These under aged pregnancies must be affecting the economy because these young girls did not get a career, and the government has to support mother and baby. Has the way that men treat women changed negatively? Maybe it’s because women are now more career-orientated. Have the roles reversed?


called ‘Heard it all before’, which is saying


Haringey Cuts The cuts and their impact on mental health services in Haringey. Dev


ince the current government being

When people say ‘Mental Health Problems’

sworn in 2011, Haringey council has

they don’t mean that he or she is having a

made massive cuts to the mental

mood swing or being moody, but is unable

health services. Within the last two

years much needed centres like the 684 (day centre), Alexandra Road Crisis Unit (a respite care centre) and other services have been axed. This could be due to the double-dip recession.

to control their condition. This could be a terrifying ordeal and have side effects. One of the reasons why these services are needed is because people with this condition need regular support and a place to go where they can meet people with similar

Presumably, the Clarington Centre will

problems and a safe place where they are

be left to take on some members from

not judged as being mad or out of control.

those centres. This means the centre staff will have to take on and manage larger numbers of members. Saying this, the centre is turning into a wellbeing college and a café from a day centre, so things are changing anyway. Also, as it stands, some

With the cuts to the services, it makes it more difficult to control or find places for them to go for support on a regular basis. As well as meaning ever-reducing support to

people may not be able to access some

people with mental health conditions. This

services because they don’t have ‘second-

could be due to ‘lack of service support’

ary support’ or have a personal budget.

and staff to handle these situations.


Sometimes at the emergency drop-in centres where you come in desperately to get help, you are sent back with some stronger doses of medicine and assigned to a ‘home care support team’. Sometimes this does not work but makes it worse. Saying that, some medicines do work and help them feel calmer and may cause some relief for the person or help some of their symptoms. According to Haringey council and central government, GPs will have more control over local services. To deal with mental health conditions you would need trained

words you help yourself. This could work two ways 1. Other people with same difficulties help people with the same problems, i.e. peer support. 2. Charities might help. This might take some pressure of the under-staffed and resourced services. Charities, and any services like Mind, Canning Crescent, provide valuable support to people with mental health problems. I hope the existing services, including charities, are able to support all those who need them.

professionals, so I wonder: how would a GP who deals primarily with physical health deal with a non-physical condition? The council has also suggested that other members be involved in their care. In other


Middle of the Storm Alyssa Grace Sorresso


Summer/ Issue 38


or me, 2010 was the year of The Risk. I

£1500 to cycle to Amsterdam through a total

had uprooted myself from my home,

of 4 countries and 280 miles in 3 days. We are

work and life in Chicago, Illinois to study

on day 3. My breath is steady as I concentrate

abroad for a year in London, England. I was

through the droplets. I have never in my life

lost back in the states, not knowing who I was

ridden this far on a bike.

or what I wanted, a result of several years of job burn-out and multiple, drama-ridden rela-

A week before our departure, I started flip-

tionships. Some of my friends had hinted that I

ping out. What the hell was I thinking? Leaving

was actually running away from my problems;

in the middle of my dissertation for a 280-mile

but I knew that even if that were the case, I

bike ride? I couldn’t even conceptually under-

wasn’t happy where I was. I had to risk every-

stand that number, much less imagine myself

thing for my wellbeing or regret doing nothing.

completing the journey. My “training” had

And that attitude is what ultimately landed me

consisted of cycling around London, visiting the

on a bike, cycling 280 miles in 3 days, in the

Notting Hill area once a week to go up what I

middle of a storm.

considered a really steep incline. I had missed my only opportunity to do a long distance

I am pedalling furiously on my bicycle on a

practice ride due to illness. And despite taking

high bridge in the Netherlands. Rain is hitting

all precautions by purchasing absolutely every

my sunglasses and soaking through the layers

item on our guide’s “to-pack” list, including 2

of body armor and an all-weather jacket. At 30

extra tubes of chamie cream, I was seriously

mph, I have only one thought: do not fall.

doubting myself and my sanity.

32 other cyclists are in various positions and

As Day 1 began, I started off in the “slow”

speeds around me, all riding to raise money

group (10-15 mph), as I wasn’t sure I could

for a non-profit theatre company called

keep up a higher speed. However, by the first

Cardboard Citizens. I have worked for the

stop on our trip, I had moved up to the middle

Citz as an intern to fulfil a requirement for my

or “fast” group (20-25 mph). As we travelled

Masters degree in London. At this moment, I

down through southern England, I fought my

am supposed to be in London, holed up in my

way up truly steep inclines that bitch-slapped

flat, researching and writing my dissertation

Notting Hill, and relished in the freefall of a

that is due in two weeks. Instead, I have raised

well-earned decline. I felt the actual purpose

cont. www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium


cont. Now in Day 3, we are firmly planted in the southern Netherlands. The weather is threatening rain, but we are spared for the morning. So we fly along the Noordzee Cycle Route, topping 36 miles an hour. I receive the gift of a tailwind and effortlessly sail along the path. The sun peaks out and lights up the environment around me: rolling blue ocean backed by opulent sand and lush prairie grasses. As I pedal, I remove a camera from the back of energy bars, gels and drinks coursing through

pocket of my jacket, hold it at arm’s length,

my body, and swore never again to just eat them

and snap a picture of myself. My smile is

because I was hungry at 3 p.m. By the end of the

huge. I feel great. Here I am in the home

first day, I was knackered, refusing to climb the

stretch, Day 3, almost to Amsterdam. I don’t

last hill in the middle of lush Dover foliage, instead

really care that I left in the middle of my

opting for a ride to our accommodations. But I

dissertation or that I double-packed all the

had made it through the first day of cycling about

suggested items; nothing of that matters here.

80 miles. London and my doubts seemed so much

I gaze up at some thickening clouds in the


distance and realize I am truly content.

Our agenda for the Day 2 was at least 100 miles

Within an hour, the thickening clouds turn into

through three countries: starting in Dunkerque,

a downpour, and everyone is immediately

France (to which we took a ferry from Dover in the

soaked to the bone. We break for a light mid-

morning), through Belgium, and ending in Middel-

morning snack, but it’s quick. Our guides say

burg, The Netherlands. The journey was expected

we don’t want to stop for long, but rather try

to be grueling, but the near-perfect weather

and outride the weather. I huddle inside the

softened the miles. We cycled along Belgium’s

food van that follows us, attempting to dry

canals with a surprise pub stop by a picturesque

out a little before getting back on my seat.

windmill. We sang Beatles songs while enjoying the

As our group takes off, I realize that I hate

ease of our slipstreams. We even laughed at carry-

cycling in the rain more than anything.

ing our bikes through the mud and darkness to the hotel, where we finished off the last of our 120 miles

Getting ahead of the weather starts to seem

with wine and chicken dinner.

like an impossible task. The showers won’t let


Summer/ Issue 38

up, and we approach a long stretch of a tram

that a rib has punctured my lung. I am para-

bridge. The rain has made the concrete slick

lyzed. Our guide and several other cyclemates

like glass. Deeply embedded tracks run down

surround me, asking if I can hear them. I lie

the middle of the bridge. I feel anxiety rise up

there telling them I am having trouble breath-

in my chest. I bring my concentration back

ing and they say the doctor is on the way. They

to pedalling and breath, settling into a tense,

tell me to stay with them, talking to me about

meditative state. The rain starts coming down

anything. I learn I was the first of four cyclists to

harder as I work to keep pace. With each spin

fall independently; we went down, one after

of my feet I chant, Do not fall, Do not fall, Do

the other, like dominos.

not fall. Everyone around me is struggling. We should stop, but there is no cover. One of our guides has ridden further up and doubled back, shouting to let us know that the rain is clearing near the end of the bridge. Only a couple miles or so to go. I register his words with a slight nod of my head. I don’t want to chance any unnecessary movement. I watch our guide position himself in front to

The doctor comes. I am able to breathe a little

lead our group to safety when I feel my handle-

more easily, but still feel numb. Shock and disas-

bars twist sharply out of my hands. In mere

sociation are strong, and I only respond with

seconds I realize my front tire is caught in the

mumbles and nods, staring up at the clouded

tram tracks, and that I am hurtling towards the

sky. Rain falls silently on my face and it is cold.

hard, wet cement. Then there is no more think-

After a few minutes, my fellow cyclists carefully

ing. The left side of my body hits the ground,

move me to the side of the bridge where I can

chest first, with a jarring impact. The bouncing

sit and be further evaluated. The doctor finds

of my helmet follows as I slide a few feet from

some bloodied scrapes on my legs and arms,

my bike and lay motionless.

but not many. My layers of clothing saved my skin from being shorn off. There are no broken

I cannot breathe. My first coherent thought is

bones or unbearable pains when moving my

that I’m having a heart attack. The second is

limbs. I just feel stiff and achy. The doctor says cont.



cont. the worst thing I seem to be suffering from is

enters, pushes the powder suspiciously with


her foot and leaves. She must have thought it was cocaine.

They put me in the doctor’s van and wrap me in a blanket. I shiver violently, unable to

Back in the van, I fall asleep as we cross

generate any warmth. Outside the van our

on the ferry. When I wake up, I feel tested

guide discusses the multiple accidents with

but resilient. I want to get back on my bike

the doctor. The other cyclists are back on

and ride the rest of the way to Amsterdam.

their bikes – I was the worst fall of the four.

The group is taking a lunch break while the

They decide the weather has cleared up

doctor checks me over and gives me his

enough, and the group should continue on. I

approval. I wander back into my cycling

am told to rest as much as I need, eat a lot of

group, greeted enthusiastically by my

sugar and drink water.

friends. Our guide hands me a peanut butter sandwich and a banana, both of which I

I ride with the doctor in the passenger side

devour immediately. The food makes me

seat. Eventually, I start feeling grounded

feel somewhat human again. My friends are

again, back in my body, but I am exhausted.

concerned about me riding, but I assure

About 3 hours go by and we arrive at a

them it’s ok, that I can do it. I shake off the

dock where we need to take a ferry into the

last of my fall and push off with 32 other bikes,

northern Netherlands. I get out of the van

32 other comrades who had stumbled, fallen

and slowly walk to what looks like a nearby

and gotten back up again just like me. And

restaurant to change my clothes. The restau-

when we end our ride in Dam Square that

rant turns out to be a combination casino

night, I cheer with everyone, ringing my bell,

and strip club, but flashing lights and naked

knowing the risk was worth the fall.

women are the least of my concerns. I’m focused more on removing my clothing that I haven’t changed since the fall. In the bathroom I begin to peel the layers of body armour off my skin, inspecting the newly formed bruises and abrasions. Along with a dry set of clothing, I brought talcum powder to soak up any wetness. The white powder scatters all over the bathroom floor, spilling out from underneath the door. A woman



Summer/ Issue 38