Archives for posts with tag: Mental health

This week 8th – 14th May is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the Mental Health Foundation have chosen the theme: Surviving or Thriving? It’s a thin line. Two thirds of people in the UK s…

Source: Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 – Surviving or Thriving? | The Last Krystallos

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Hi all:

I’m now back in the UK and trying to get back into the swing of things after being away from the internet for a while (it’s like riding a bicycle, you don’t forget it but you get aches and pains), and while I prepare a few more posts about my experiences these holidays, I thought I’d share some of the reviews I wrote about the books I read while away. I have plenty to choose from, but I chose to talk about Conditions today, not only because I’ve enjoyed Christoph Fischer’s writing in the past, and he is always hard at work promoting other writers, but because I saw that his new book, Conditioned, the continuation of the adventures of those characters will be published next month and is already available in pre-order. So, what better?

Conditions by Christoph Fischer

Conditions by Christoph Fischer

Conditions by Christoph Fischer

When Charles and Tony’s mother dies the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly so given that one of them is mentally challenged and the other bitter about his place within the family.

The conflict is drawn out over materialistic issues, but there are other underlying problems which go to the heart of what it means to be part of a family which, in one way or another. has cast one aside.

Prejudice, misconceptions and the human condition in all forms feature in this contemporary drama revolving around a group of people who attend the subsequent funeral at the British South Coast.

Meet flamboyant gardener Charles, loner Simon, selfless psychic Elaine, narcissistic body-builder Edgar, Martha and her version of unconditional love and many others as they try to deal with the event and its aftermath.

Link:

http://www.amazon.com/Conditions-Series-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00NZ1VTBU/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Conditions-Series-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00NZ1VTBU/

 

Here is my review:

I’m a psychiatrist, and what is normal and how we define normality are questions that the more one works in the field, the more one wonders about. Absence of a diagnosable mental illness is not the same as what society might think as “normal behaviour”. And each individual’s opinion on the matter is even more varied. Culture shock, for instance, results from differences in what is accepted behaviour in countries far apart (although not necessarily as far as we might think). Being transplanted into a culture or a situation brand new for us might make us question if our version of normal is the correct one. Even what might be normal for our neighbours we might consider utterly bizarre.

The author of this novel explores the reactions to a character, Charles, who has a psychiatric condition (a mental disorder unspecified in the book), by a number of people, including relatives (his brother and sister-in-law), close friends and acquaintances, complete strangers and previous employers. Charles’s diagnosis is left intentionally vague (we can speculate, based on the description of his behaviours, but that is not the point of the story. Charles’s behaviour is peculiar and bizarre at times, but he does not appear to be a danger to others and most of the time remains capable of making his own decisions and explaining himself, although not always) probably to avoid the temptation of turning the book into an apologia or a treatise to defend the sufferers of a particular illness or disorder. It is not about one set of symptoms or even one character, but it reflects back to us some of the standard reactions to people who might be affected by such a disorder. Are they really unable to do a day’s work, or is it all an excuse? Are they telling the truth or are they making up stories to get attention? Why should they be treated differently and given special privileges when they aren’t pulling their weight? Are they just exploiting the system? Should they just be locked up?

The novel is written in the third person, at times by an omniscient narrator that shares the internal thoughts of some of the many characters, at times the third person narrator simply shares what is happening, without taking any specific point of view, but rather that of an objective observer. That contrast allows us to get a better understanding of the psychological make-up and reasons behind some of the characters’ reactions, and we can compare those reactions to the facts.

Although we never get to see things from Charles’s perspective, we hear the stories of his friends (some closer than other) who are gathered, at the beginning of the book, to help him and accompany him on the occasion of his mother’s funeral. There are a number of works of fiction where a funeral brings people together to discuss the deceased, and in the process discover the true selves of those in attendance, although here, there is less discussion of Rose, the mother, and more of Charles. And also of the rest of the guests. We get to learn about them, their relationships (or lack of them), their sexuality, their weaknesses, their beliefs and interests, mostly through their conversations. All the characters have interesting backgrounds, lives and stories, and we become as curious about them as they are about each other. And we want to learn more. There is plenty of dialogue and not much description or narration. It struck me that this book would make a great play with many juicy parts for talented actors and actresses.

When we get to know both his friends and those who aren’t that close to Charles, we come to understand that all of them (and by extension, also us) have their own conditions, and we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Even the most enlightened of us can have prejudices and misjudge others if we are not open and  refuse to take them on their own terms.

Conditions has a fascinating array of characters and is a book that will make all readers think. I believe there is or will be a second part that will follow some of the characters’ stories. I’m looking forward to it. This is the second book I’ve read by this writer and I’m happy that he has so many books available and of varied styles and genres. I’ll keep reading him, enjoying his stories and watching his career.

And now, here is a link to the cover reveal of Conditioned where you can get more information from the horse’s mouth:

condiotioned-twitterv2

https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/cover-reveal-conditioned/

CONDITIONED dives back into the world of gardener Charles, his friends and the state of his mental health – one year on. We meet loner Simon and his battle with the outside world, co-dependent Martha and her abusive husband Clive, neurotic poet Catherine on the verge of getting married, Tony, who finds his strange brother Charles a challenge, psychic Elaine looking for a new direction in life and quirky widow Sarah Roseberg who has a go at sorting out all of their problems.

CONDITIONS aimed to sensitise readers and make them think about tolerance and acceptance. CONDITIONED wants readers to look beyond their attitude towards Conditions and examine what we all do and what we can do to overcome our challenges. The sequel is another snapshot of this circle of friends. Some will have improved their lives, others will not.

I can’t wait!

Thanks to Christoph for your book, thanks to you all for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK! And I’ll keep you updated!

Hi all:

As you know Fridays is guest author day. I met Amanda Green through social media a while back and I’ve read about her writing and her experiences and have been corresponding with her for a while. We have exchanged thoughts on mental health and a variety of other topics and I finally managed to squeeze some time to read her first book ‘My Alien Self‘ recently. I convinced Amanda to come as guest and thought it would be an excellent chance to also share the review of that book. Amanda is also kindly sharing some of her tips on writing.

Here is Amanda:

Amanda Green's logo.

Amanda Green’s logo.

I am Amanda Green, author of six inspiring, self published books.

Outside of writing and social networking (yes I spend far too long each day on the computer!), I spend a lot of time with my pets; a handsome cat called Titus, a pretty hamster called Molly and tropical fish. I strongly believe in pet or animal therapy as being good for our mind, body and soul and I promote the fostering and adopting of animals as opposed to private breeding and purchase, as there are too many surplus animals desperate for homes. I detest animal cruelty.

I love eating out and reviewing restaurants, travel, days out, campaigning for the precious Orang-utan and the issues of unsustainable palm oil production  and seeing my family. I also enjoy reading, theatre, films, TV and cooking and when I can calm my mind down, just relaxing!

I gained 9 GCSE’s at school and have travelled on/off across the world, taking in twenty five Countries – living and working at times in Japan, Thailand and Australia.  I have enjoyed work in the field of Hotels, banking, property management, recruitment and Office management gaining many skills and qualifications along the way.

I run six personal websites for which I write all copy and articles and provide all photography.  I learn as much as I can fit into my life

I have had my writing and photography work published in various magazines and local newspapers.  I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, learnt through my varied working background.

‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me‘ is my self published memoir of my journey through mental illness to recovery. I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living.

My aspirations are to continue as a full time writer/photographer.  I intend to be successful in fact/fiction storytelling in the mental health/relationship genres.  I have unique ideas, and a very thick skin.  I attended various writer’s retreats and short writing courses to further my writing, and  learnt a great deal from the editor’s/literary consultant’s who worked with me on my memoir project.  I am 40 years old.

The first two of my books, ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back To Me‘ and the sequel ‘39‘, are both memoirs, the rest are fiction short stories, a novelette and a novella.

My second memoir ’39’ is about what happened afterwards; the year before reaching the prime age of forty, family relationships, love and memories.

Other books – fiction…

‘Behind Those Eyes: A Novella’ (An Amanda Green Novella) – Two homeless men, a successful brother and sister, a woman falling in love, a man with family problems and a whole lot of twists in this ‘sliding doors’ style novella. It’s a story about people and adversity, love, friendship and stigma. Will you work out what they have in common?

 

‘Living the Dream – A Novelette’ (An Amanda Green Novelette) – Essentially a psychologically twisted style story, this book contains some offensive language and is suitable for adults only. It touches on sexual and domestic abuse of women, mental health and features three women, in East London, linked through adversity with twists and turns along the way.
It is a work of fiction, however this type of thing could be happening near you – two very important subjects we should be aware of.’

 

‘What I Know and two more short stories’ (Amanda Green’s Short Stories) – ‘What I know’, ‘The Coach Trip’ and ‘The Best of Friends’ make up this trio of short stories about relationships. Read how each character chooses a different path…

The Woman Who Lives Next Door – A Short Story’ (Amanda Green’s Short Stories) -How well do you really know your next door neighbour? Mary is yet to find out…

All available on Amazon.

Amazon U.S. author page:

http://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Green/e/B0087O89QS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1402312334&sr=8-1

 

Amazon U.K. author page

:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Green/e/B0087O89QS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Mental health

I have just finished Counselling skills level 2 at college and am waiting to hear if I will be accepted on the level 4 course. I would love to be able to help others facing issues and adversities, so fingers crossed!

I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living. Because I grew up with my mother having severe Schizophrenia, who had been incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals for years, and felt the bullying and loneliness that stigma can spread, I campaign to ‘stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. I also felt the wrath of stigma when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder. Many people do not understand mental illness, so judge people unfairly. So I created www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk where I publish articles on the topics covered in my story, including self help, depression, bankruptcy, Alcohol/drug abuse, family and relationships, sexual, physical and mental abuse, anxiety, anger, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), self harm, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Anorexia Nervosa/Bulimia, mindfulness, panic, rape, Schizophrenia, psychosis, Suicidal thoughts, , paranoia, dissociation, mood disorder, thyroid issues and psychology.

I love photography, writing and looking after my many websites, and have had my work published in magazines. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, which is why I chose to self publish to kindle in this first instance.

I will be working with mental health charities, magazines, newspapers, social networking and other PR projects, actively making people aware of this disorder through every means possible through the media. But also, I hope that my books will help other sufferers and their families and friends to understand BPD and mental health and how to help oneself to feel better. I want to raise awareness to the general public about mental illness and the stigma sufferers have to deal with.

I hope that Doctors and the medical industry involved with mental health will benefit from reading my stories, as they unfold what it is like to suffer from debilitating mental illness from the inside out and how it manifests itself.

But I have also written my memoirs in a style that I hope will be compelling and sometimes shocking reads for anyone interested in memoirs with a twist, so that I can reach more people.

I really hope to encourage more celebrities to come out about BPD or other mental illnesses.

I am going to continue writing through fact and fiction storytelling, on the genre of Mental Health and life adversities – facing and combating adversity as the main point.

 

Amanda Green

Amanda Green's 'My Alien Self'

Amanda Green’s ‘My Alien Self’

Author of ‘My alien self – my journey back to me’ and the sequel ’39’

Blog www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk

Here I leave you my review of My Alien Self:

My Alien Self by Amanda Green. Memoirs, mental disorder and finding your path to recovery

I am a psychiatrist and as such I do have a professional (as well as a personal) interest in personal/first-hand accounts of mental illness (or disorder) and not only professional or text-book descriptions. Of course over the years I have heard many patients/clients/service-users (choose whichever you prefer, I won’t enter the heated debates on which is the best term to use) talking about their experiences, but those have been mostly in response to specific questions, rather than their own preferred expressions or commentaries, and mostly at times of crisis.

I have also read a number of more literary versions of mental illness (sometimes recommended by people I was working with, including patients, like Silvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’, others I’ve discovered myself when reading some of my favourite writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Crack-Up’ or Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’). They are great works by fantastic writers and well-worth a read, even if the subject of mental health is not close to your heart.

What Ms. Green’s book provides is not only an account of a mental disorder sufferer (despite the diagnostic difficulties that as she observes plague the field), but a memoir of her life, her quest for finding her true self and the process of her re-discovery. And her life is far from boring. Travelling far and wide (across the UK, Spain, Japan, Australia, Borneo…), with interests as varied as the creation and management of websites, property development, Orangutan, the entertainment industry…dabbling in drugs and alcohol, complicated family relationships and a difficult love life, Ms. Green’s account is gripping stuff in its own right. And her writing expresses well the ups and downs and the subjective nature of the narration.

Having worked as a psychiatrist in the NHS (National Health Service in the UK, the same one the author seeks help from) I can see things from a professional perspective (and although the system tries hard to avoid the ‘us and them’ dichotomy it’s not easy). I fully understand why she might not have received more intense help before. Mental Health Services struggle to provide support and care for people who cannot cope even on a basic level and who present an immediate and major risk to self (people repeatedly attempting suicide, severe self-harm or severely neglecting themselves) or others (threatening to harm others or doing so) for lengthy periods of time. It is less than an ideal situation; the services are stretched to the limit and mostly dealing with crises, but that is a true reflection of affairs. There is hope that service-user led movements and the voluntary sector will help to fill in the gaps, but prioritising is difficult.

The nature and characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder with its difficulties in trusting people, impulsivity and inconsistent engagement (well reflected in ‘My Alien Self’) cause problems of its own not easily managed by the psychiatric services as they are currently set.

The author of ‘My Alien Self’ has managed to find herself, to create her own combination of therapies (learned over the years, including mindfulness, CBT, CAT, yoga, medication…) and more importantly she has had the courage to go through her life, collecting and reliving her experiences and having a hard look at her past, the most difficult part of any therapy.

‘My Alien Self’ is a book difficult to read for anybody with mental health issues and also for professionals, but precisely because of that it’s a book that needs to be read. I salute Ms. Green for her guts and congratulate her for her achievements. And I agree with her. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, but I’m sure she’ll win the war.

Buy ‘My Alien Self’ on Amazon www.viewBook.at/MyAlienSelf

 

Amanda Green's 39

Amanda Green’s 39

Buy ’39’ on Amazon www.viewBook.at/39

Twitter – @AmandaGreenUK

Facebook – AmandaGreenAuthor

Goodreads

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15840188-my-alien-self

Facebook book page

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Green-My-Alien-Self-my-journey-back-to-me/268350159908283?fref=ts

Tips for self publishing memoirs:

http://amandagreenauthor.co.uk/tips-for-self-publishing-ebooks-and-writing-memoirs-from-my-experiences/

 

My top 10 writing tips:

http://amandagreenauthor.co.uk/my-top-ten-writing-tips-based-on-my-own-experience-and-learning-from-many-other-authors/

Thanks Amanda for sharing such valuable information with us and for the visit, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and of course, CLICK!

English: Image for mental health stubs, uses t...

English: Image for mental health stubs, uses two psych images – psychiatry (medicine) and psychology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

After weeks of talking about my book (and yes, there will be links at the end of the post, of course) I decided to try something different. I’ve just noticed that when people read my profile, in Twitter or Facebook, they are always interested in the forensic psychiatrist thing. I must explain. Forensic in this context does not have much to do with crime labs, CSI and all those thing. It is a subspecialty of psychiatry that deals with people who in their majority have a forensic (criminal history) and are felt to be too dangerous or risky for standard psychiatric services. So forensic psychiatric hospitals normally have more security measures than a standard psychiatric hospital (alarms, fences, locks…), staff numbers tend to be higher, staff members are trained in how to deal with certain risky behaviours and there is an emphasis placed on producing good risk assessments and plans to manage difficult situations.

 

There appears to be some confusion between psychiatrists and psychologists. To become a psychiatrist you have to study Medicine first, so we are doctors who then train to become psychiatrists. All doctors will study Psychiatry as one of the subjects during their degree, but like with any other specialties you will need further training if  you want to work in psychiatry (in the same way that a surgeon or a cardiologist needs to train on their branch of Medicine). Psychology is a completely different career and although we work closely together with clinical psychologists (and sometimes Forensic psychologists in my line of work) our training is different. Psychologists can work in a variety of fields, not only related to clinical matters, and I’m sure that all of you who have children are aware of psychologists attached to schools, working to assess children’s needs and help with any difficulties. They also work in recruitment for big companies, in sports…They do assessments (like IQ assessments, assessments of risk of violence, assessment of cognitive difficulties with somebody who has suffered a stroke, for instance), and also therapy and treatment, depending on their specific training. They do not prescribe medication (unless they have had other training and qualifications) and deal with how the mind works, but not from an organic point of view.

 

I work in the UK, and here people suffering from a mental disorder who come in contact with criminal justice system are subject to a different subsection of the Mental Health Act (1983 but amended in 2007). I’m not familiar with the Mental Health Law in many other countries (not even in Spain, where I come from, as I haven’t worked there for years and have no contacts with psychiatrists in the country) and can’t comment on exact details but here somebody can be detained if they are deemed to be mentally unwell and be risky to themselves or others. They can be taken to hospital and treated against their will. Issues of Human Rights come into play, but such matters are accepted, not without debate.

 

How is the work? It is not really that different from standard psychiatry. I work in a public hospital, and don’t focus on talking therapies, so I’m nothing like the psychiatrist in the Sopranos or Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (that I love). Luckily it isn’t like in Someone Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Quills. Yes, ECT (what people used to call electroshock, now electroconvulsive therapy) is still in use, and works very well in extreme cases, with people very depressed and with risk to their lives due to not eating and drinking. Of course it is not like used to be now, and people are asleep. In summary we see people, listen to them, talk to them and prescribe them medication if they need it. We also have to prepare reports for the courts to give them our opinion about somebody’s mental health state and how their crimes might be related (or not) to their mental health. As I explained in forensic psychiatric hospitals the security measures are greater, and although sometimes we have to deal with people who are very unwell in general it does not result in the job being personally more risky than many others.

 

I work in a hospital and that means we work in a team with many other professionals who do a great job in trying to return people back to independent life in the community. We have nurses who are always by the side of the patients, occupational therapist who try to encourage them to engage in activities, look at college, work, practical skills for everyday life, psychologists who help assess specific problems and offer counselling and therapy for particular difficulties (anxiety, substance misuse, psychotic symptoms…). And housekeeping staff, administrative staff, and gardeners, maintenance…Patients have a lot of people around them, and sometimes that is a big part of the change and therapy, as unfortunately many have lived isolated lives in the community.

 

There are many sad stories, some entertaining ones, a few success stories, some less successful Who is to judge though? Now people are talking less about ‘cure’, quite difficult in some mental illnesses that are chronic and can be managed but not eradicated, and more about recovery. Recovery is about trying to bring people to their ideal level of functioning and well-being. And who could aspire to more than that?

 

Olga

 

And now, as promised, the links to my book. And TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. This Friday, the 23rd of November, author Simon Jenner, will be talking to us about his writing and his new book, first on the series of Ethan Justice. I’ve read it and can truthfully say I can wholeheartedly recommend it!

 

Second announcement is that I’m going to feature in my friend and very successful author (The Undeparted Series) Deborah Palumbo’s blog on the 24th of November. I’ll remind  you, but I’m giving you the link now. She always has fantastic guests and her own posts are fascinating. Have a look:

 

http://deborahpalumbotheundeparted.blospot.com/

 

 

 

The link to The Man Who Never Was is:

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TWRT22

 

You can access the book trailer for The Man in my author’s page in Amazon, or directly in U-tube but if you wish to use links, please use the one above:

 

http://www.youtube.com/embed/qvUitFG2D20

 

Thanks so much!

 

 

 

 

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