• This section is just that - all about YOU!

    We know our SpeakUpCIC members are a creative, inspired, articulate and artistic bunch of individuals! So these pages are turned over to them so they can share that creativity and inspiration with the rest of the world!

    So if you're a SpeakUpCIC member or volunteer who's written a short story, painted up a storm, devised a piano concerto or made a short film send it to us and we will include a selection of work on these pages!

    Simply e-mail your pictures, words, music and video files to : admin@SpeakUpCIC.co.uk

  • Click on the following poem titles to view them in full:


    by Luke Hobson

    I have this notion to fly.
    A great urge to take to the sky.
    Feel myself fly higher and higher.
    The desire is really quite dire.
    I can feel myself on the edge.
    Stretching and taking off from the ledge.
    One step over I won't fall.
    I'll spread my wings, fly from it all.


    By Stephanie Downer

    Sometimes i feel free like the birds flying in the sky
    Sometimes i just want to run hide and cry
    But each day does change some good days some bad
    Wipe away thoughs tears be happy not sad.
    Hear the birds sing look how the flowers grow
    Sometimes your journey through life is slow
    But take small steps which turn to leaps
    And soon you will be able to keep
    Going, moving forwards in all you do
    Keep focused keep safe and just be you.


    By Charlotte Connelly

    I’m outside, trying to escape the pain in my heart
    And as I look up I smile at a star and it’s smiling back at me
    Oh what it must be like to be a star and not me 
    The light, shimmering piece of silver dust in the sky 
    And as I look up the pain I feel has shifted to another place and I’ve almost forgotten the pain 
    Oh what it must be like to be a star and not me 
    Taking in the sky, breathing in the night’s air, seeing other stars and living by the moon
    A thousand dollars I’d give to simply be that star
    At least to feel beautiful and free 
    Oh if only the star could grant me my wishes
    Throw me a fortune and pass me a piece of its shimmering beautiful light 
    I’d look upon it as something more 
    The little light in the sky is so much more than me 
    Or at least I sometimes feel it is 
    The silence has stopped and I hear a beat
    The music has started and I take a step away from the silver star
    Anything else to distract myself from the sadness I still feel inside my soul 
    Their dancing and now so am I 
    I’m dancing to the beat, dancing to the drums
    Anything else to distract my mind from the sadness within my soul 
    Were all dancing now , dancing below the sky of stars
    And our feet move like that of a skater on ice
    With ease and like we just can’t stop 
    And as our eyes look up into the sky it makes the dancing even brighter
    We all want to reach the sky and we all want to break away 
    Break away and just feel fun 
    Our feet have become one as we’re all dancing to the beat in the same way 
    And as our feet are dancing to the beat and our minds are looking to the sky
    We are all nothing but happy souls
    But as the tunes start to stop and as the stars start to fade 
    Oh, but a whisper of sadness is starting to return
    And so we turn up the music and we dance again 
    It’s all about keeping the sadness at bay and our eyes on the sky
      And so we keep dancing with our feet


    By Kimberly Kitts

    Just something I wrote to describe how I am feeling at the moment.
    I thought I had left you far behind
    Your claws are digging into my heart
    Clawing away bringing the darkness in
    Like a black fog clouding my mind
    Sometimes you hide and it seems brighter
    But then you creep back in like a rolling sea mist
    Making yourself heard and seen like a black wave
    It's all so dark and cold here again
    I cannot see a light at the end just darkness

    Walk and Talk

    By David Dixon

    Breathe the fresh air blowing in from the sea.
      Passing the people and their dogs having a chat and discovering more
      Feeling better at the finish must keep fit
      No more feeling shy Problems seem less.
      We don't feel in such a mess.

    What Mental Health Means to me

    By John Underwood

    The mental in the mental health
    Means taking better care of self
    It might mean meds or therapy
    For safety sake, to simply be
    It takes some time to realise
    That life within, not seen with eyes
    To heal that hurt in past and present
    For mind to ebb and flow, intent
    Intent on growth and change within
    For wanting to be better again
    In some this is a mighty act
    While others soon to heal, intact
    But all suffer back to health again
    Are sometimes left, no support, in vain
    You see the truth; how people react
    No physical symptoms to treat, a fact
    With broken leg or arm to heal
    With physical health, it’s there, it’s real
    But mental health which can’t be seen
    Is overlooked, we slide between
    the cracks of life and sometimes fall
    Overlooked, ignored, not real at all
    So, if you are one of the four
    With mental health left at the door
    Your GP might not understand,
    And no diagnosis comprehend
    So we are left to fight our corner
    And out of sight and mind – it’s torture
    To see society ignore us
    Not wanting to be made to fuss
    So we fester like an open wound
    No crisis team are coming round
    Left to rely on own resources
    To fight for every bit, recourses
    The state does neither know nor care
    What mental health really is, despair
    Another day, another failure
    Whilst people left to fade, no saviour
    They rWhile abusers, accusers call us losers
    They think we sometimes make it up
    You’re not living this, you have some luck
    If mental health fails you in future,
    Perhaps then you’ll realise it’s futile
    To have a bath, a cup of tea,
    Or mindfulness or therapy
    Because we’re pigeon holed by diagnosis
    All individual, not same neurosis
    So change has to come, and soon
    But politicians all sing same tune
    Change is coming, they shout the promise,
    I wish that they would be more honest. to us as ‘service users’

    A Child in Autumn

    by John Childs

    As a child I used to cry For every leaf, russet red,
    That fell to earth, cracked and dry. I knew then that they were dead.
    Mother sought to comfort me: " These are only Nature's tears.
    Centuries have seen this tree Mourn the passing of the years.
    See, the tree is quite serene;
    Past withered Winter will he sleep.
    Next Spring his boughs will blossom green
    As through his veins the sap will creep".
    I knew better, being young, And each leaf tried to save.
    I had heard the tree's sad song Singing softly from its grave.

    February Birdsong

    by Cinzia Shaw

    I take the journey at night, The high window means that I can't see the familiar roads leading to my destination: I am a woman in a carriage being driven through bandit territory. When I wake up from my nightmare I'm in a psychiatric hospital in the woods, With the branches of a budding magnolia tree pressing reassuringly against my window&58; The birds are singing their hearts out&58; Love&58; Strength&58; Joy!

    Widow Black

    by Lynn Osbourne

    Sitting in the shadow of yesterday,
    Gazing at my shimmering reflection,
    Losing myself within the images,
    I feel in your tender affection.
    I rise and watch the transforming skies,
    Dazzling Blue to Widow Black,
    Minds eye viewing you homeward return,
    With you, my heart will come back.
    Recapturing timely moments of solitude,
    Explanations that the hours portray,
    Why does every second feel like a minute?
    Why can't tomorrow be today?

    Don't speak

    by Phil Growler

    Don't speak Don't look Don't come my way
    Darkness rules my heart today
    You look at me then glance away
    There's darkness in my eyes today
    Your warming smile that cheery grin
    will never find an entrance in
    Darkness holds me in its sway
    There is nothing you can do or say
    When darkness has its wicked way.

    Changeable as the Seasons

    by Stephanie Downer

    The sky is so blue, but fresher outside,
    I want to be out there, I don't want to hide,
    But seeing people, I feel they know,
    It makes me want to run, I need to go,
    Full of emotions from beginning to end,
    But I have my family and I have my friends.
    Don't be scared to talk it out,
    If you need to scream and shout,
    Emotions come out in different ways,
    But things will change from day to day,
    Like the weather, so changeable, warm and then cold,
    The leaves beginning to fall, it takes a hold,
    As the autumn begins to appear,
    Different shades of colours, release your fears,
    'cos the seasons change, like your mood,
    Dont think of what if and if I could,
    Have changed what had happened,
    Move forwards and onwards, like the sun in the sky,
    Soon like a bird you will be set free to fly,
    High in the clouds exploring the world,
    You will feel warmer and not as cold.

    Christmas Time

    by David Froude

    Do not tease in winter
    For love drowns me
    Beneath snow drenched fields
    Scrambled as shore lined pebbles
    The contours of your face consume me
    Your cheeks excite me
    Lit by flickering light by the Christmas tree

    Do not tease in winter
    But lead me like lovers
    I can't say no
    A jumble of images
    Envelope me where my mother stood

    Do not tease in winter
    When the snows coming
    Ice tangled leaves wear lace
    I often think what I do to keep you
    What shall I say to make you stay?
    Under the black star spangled skies

    Oh Please

    by Paul Davidson

    Oh please, please whisper, whisper his name
    So very gently in my ear so no one might
    Our pain so great

    Oh whisper, whisper his name
    As gently as the breeze
    That was once his breath

    Our little leo with the lions heart
    That we sent to heaven
    With our hearts and souls
    Only to return trapped in our minds
    Forever in pain
    Never to remember
    The joy of the life we all did share

    Oh please whisper, whisper his name
    That we might remember
    The joy of the family we were

    Where there is despair there is hope

    by Kelly Ann Cooke

    Where there is sadness there can be gladness
    Where there is loneliness there is comfort
    Where there is fear there is courage
    Where there is strangers there are friends
    When in the dark remember what's in your
    heart remind yourself of the things that make
    you glad, give u comfort have strength, make
    friends and keep hope!

    I used to feel lost and alone

    by Les Williams

    Then I joined
    SpeakUpCIC and everyone there made me feel
    at home. At first I sat there, unable to speak.
    Then things slowly improved week by week.
    Now I can speak in company wherever I go.
    I'm much happier now - gone is the woe.
    It will work for you as it did for me.
    So just come and join us and you will see.

    my moods and sunny days

    by Jane Casswell

    I always feel down in the dumps on sunny days,
    Even though every one is chirpy on the walk & talk
    It just does not rub off on me.
    I often feel sorry for myself as
    I feel alone and no one else cares.
    I just feel it's so unfair that I should feel like this.
    I think that some horrible demon is on my back.
    Last summer despite lovely sunny weather,
    The whole way through, I felt down in the dumps nearly every day.
    I just can not lift myself out of it,
    Because there's a continuous black cloud over my head.

    Make Clouds Disappear with Your Mind

    by Philip Gosling

    You'll need a nice day filled with big, fluffy
    clouds that are moving at a gentle pace.
    Lie down in the sun, chill out. Take some
    rays. While you're contemplating the meaning
    of life, check out the edges of some of
    those clouds. You're looking for a small
    wisp of cloud, a tiny one that's broken
    away from a main cloud. Focus your eyes
    and your thoughts upon that wisp of vapor.
    Stare at it and will it to go away. Demand,
    with confidence, that it disappear, and it
    will. Just watch. As a beginner you have to
    practice on tiny cloudlets. Eventually, with
    practice, you will be surprised at how effective
    this can be on bigger ones. And there
    you are. You're not changing yourself,
    you're changing the reality around you.
    Weird or what?

    Is Something Growing Within?

    by Ian Ellard

    I've been there before, or have I?
    Pain like nothing else in your life,
    Everyday things become hard to endure,
    Doctors' faces; cold and severe,
    Time ticks by slowly as tests advance,
    Is it? Is it not?
    An appointment. I'm shown into a consulting room.
    A grim face; yes it is.
    There is hope. Important words 'it is treatable',
    A new word; oncology,
    Lots of experts,
    Macmillan; a great help,
    The darkness goes,
    Lasers and light, nasty drugs, strange feelings,
    Thing is destroyed by light and the pain goes,
    A new dawn awaits. A future beckons,
    Life begins all over a precious and fragile thing.

    The girl in purple

    by ...

    Today the colours spin
    just like the roundabout that whirls in a circle
    the bubbles whirl in a cup of tea
    my emotions move, round and round and round
    they go
    where are they taking me
    where do they want to take, take, take me
    I can control a hula hoop
    The lines blur, smudged with an eraser
    so straight forward, the simple line but oh so fine
    I draw a line and its mine to erase
    I make a friend and I have a choice
    The line can stay or I can smudge it a little
    trying to redefine the line
    knowing I can try drawing the line again
    But where will the line take me and I wander to what
    The grass is green, the trees are green, I'm a green
    eyed girl
    envious, envy, envy, envy, I wish I could envy me
    But not all possible
    green is healthy when its kept in check
    sometimes the green will go sour and the jealousy
    will sigh
    sighing , I'm jealous of everyone around me
    push, push, pushing buttons
    I don't know where the pushing will take me
    but its for sure to end in tears
    why do I want to cry
    why feel nice then cry
    like a bowl of soup mixed with candy and love
    I want comfort, refreshment, relaxation, relaxation
    sitting, she's the girl attempting to grasp the good.

    No One

    by Jackie

    When I am trying to sleep lying in my bed,
    These voices keep talking in my head,
    Is this god talking to me?
    I have got to do what they say, and then I will be free.
    But sometimes these voices are not so nice,
    It might be the devil I have to think twice.
    But how can I be sure where these voices come from,
    So I will pray and pray all night long.
    I think these voices are spirits in the astral plane,
    Am I going totally mad or am I sane,
    Maybe I have a gift, so that's why they speak to me,
    Maybe they need help and they want to be free.
    I shut my eyes I see bright lights inside,
    There is no escape there is no where to hide
    So what do the doctors really know,
    To them its entertainment, one big show.
    They get paid for a job that they no nothing about,
    They say that they do, but this is doubt,
    Unless you experience this for yourself,
    There is no understanding, there is no one else.


    by Jackie

    When I am down & feeling low,
    I really don't want my feelings to show.
    I stay indoors I don't go out,
    I feel sick inside I cry and shout,
    I take my pills as prescribed,
    But they just made me feel sick inside,
    But I keep on thinking I can not give in,
    This is a battle I have got to win,
    In the past I have nearly died,
    And when I came round I just sat and cried.
    Is this a challenge from god above?
    He kept me going this is true love.
    Many years have passed since this first began,
    No one is immune no woman or man.
    But life would be boring without this fight,
    And if you persevere this will turn out right
    So listen to my words and take them in,
    This fight and battle you must win.

    SpeakUpCIC. is like a family

    by David Dixon

    SpeakUpCIC. is like a family
    Free to speak about similar
    problems and events
    So refreshing , few inhibitions
    Each of us have different interests
    and lives
    Coming together as a unit
    The end result is an education and
    often an eye-opener.

    Around the Table

    by Russell Segar

    With coffee and teas
    A place to talk about all
    That's been and all we've seen

    Cards and arts
    And gardening too
    And also cooking and
    Many other things you can do

    With art pictures on the wall
    People tall and people small

    Welcomed nicely
    And welcomed too
    A place to be honest
    And to try to be true
    For all things will come to you.

    Love the way

    by David Froud

    I love the way our clothing mingles,
    Together on the bedroom floor.
    I love the way you dry your hair,
    And it falls on your shoulders.
    I love the way you make my breakfast,
    I love the way you take me to bed,
    And tenderly call my name.
    I love the way you dispel the cruel night,
    But I hate the time when we are not together.

    Thoughts on Autism

    by Jane Casswells

    I find it very hard to make friends,
    As I can smile but not laugh

    I feel very isolated,
    Being amongst happy cheery people,
    It does not rub off on me.

    People got put off,
    And run away because I am different.

    A Cross to Bear

    by Susie Shea

    Though the hard road you have to tread and heavy be your cross- and the heart be bouncing with a great loss... others have travelled ahead of you. Have groped through this same night. Have struggled through the Darkness and come out into the light.

    The track is marked with footprints where un-numbered souls have passed through the gates of suffering and found their peace at last... Remember this when sorrow comes and for when strength you pray. Others have walked the road before you, others have come this way.

    a broken heart

    by Terry O'Connor

    A broken heart on the verge of tears....don't cry
    Hold your head up high
    Turn back time...and be brave
    For love may be gone but hope must remain
    Share your life with somebody else
    A broken heart may be an allusion on your part
    For you've broken mine to the end of understanding
    Don't cry... and nor will I.


    by Angela E Glenn

    I get up in the morning
    And. feel a bit confused,
    I take my medication,
    Then keep myself amused.

    I rush round and clean the place,
    Which makes me have a happy face,
    But when all the jobs are finished, I panic all the time,
    Until I find something else to occupy my mind.

    The Fires of Hell

    by Lorna Vince

    Picture the fires of hell
    There is no hell but thought
    The surface of emotion deep
    Storing an explosion
    All removing tempest of complete darkness
    Entwined with excessive, exquisite mutable time and place
    Before which no one can build.

    A monster, for my temper is awake and living
    Beast of beauty, burden, and salt laden sea of doubt
    Empty thrashing of arms and
    Lament of soul in torment forever
    As though no escape the boiling torrent
    Even when not said or done
    How can you do a thing about it
    When you don't hear the sound of silence
    In the middle of the present moment
    Out of all the comings and goings.

    No sleeping time
    Eyelids droop in closing
    Time for eyes to rest
    Before next onslaught of thoughts
    To fight and hide from
    In exclusion from all disturbance.

    Think of Tom

    by Dave

    My bodies a stone mausoleum,
    In memory of a childhood thats gone,
    The cuts and the scars to remind me
    Of where life began to go wrong.
    And nobody hears my anger,
    I make no sound when i shout,
    I sit in the shadow of darkness,
    I'm letting the bad blood out,
    I'm letting the bad blood..................out.

    Dreaming Impossibilites

    by Alanna Helm

    I belong in sunshine and burnt grass
    Where I can hear the crickets and
    Smell the wildflowers.

    I belong free of bindings
    My wings molded to the sun
    Not frozen and jagged from breaking.

    I belong under a wild blue sky
    Where I can see puffs of breath turn into
    Jet puff marshmallow men.

    I belong in an animal scream to the heavens
    The kind that a tree makes when it cracks
    During a thunderstorm.

    I belong in a desert water storm
    Not here in this nightmare
    Not now in this time travelling backwards.

    Hear Voices

    by Nick Dent

    Some might think it sadness
    Why its patently absurd
    Yet folks with mental health problems
    Have no right to be heard

    While docs ply you with chemicals
    To 'rebalance' your brain
    They rarely take the time to talk
    To to hear from where you came

    Somehow we'll have to make them see
    All experience is real
    And so's what we think about our lives and how that makes us feel.

    Season Sentiments

    by Angelica

    Dawn awakens in me.The lilies upon shared & sturdy stems
    tower beyond their voluminous verdant leaves.
    I watch a Bee settle upon a rim before
    descending into the elegant white cone.
    The slender stamen now as Golden
    as the Sun is Rising .A Blackbird serenades
    the brightest of Days.

    Talking Flowers

    by Peter H Donnelly

    Imagine a thought that's wrapped round a rose
    The rose talks under it's cover and it shouts a name
    Then the name unwraps the words
    Loosens its thread and rolls out its tongue
    Dances upon the golden beads of joyful tears
    Bubbles and bounces itself round and about
    Meets people and things and places
    And talks to itself until it is black and yellow.
    If flowers could talk would they say I love you?
    Would they whisper velvet touches and swift soft strokes?
    The petals are delicate flaps, pure inorigin
    And at the centre is the womb of the universe.
    The flowers laugh at the thorny jokes
    Giggle at the prickly spiky debate
    And entwine themselves with sweet reason.

    In Hosptial

    by Rob Wells

    Here I am again in hospital
    Living in my lonely hell
    Will I end my days in here
    Surrounded by thoughts of fear.

    The days come and go
    Still my thoughts are very slow
    There seems no hope in staying here
    I shed another lonely tear.
    At last I feel like going home
    I ask the doctor if I can go

    He says you can go when you're ready
    So I packed my clothes and teddy.
    Home at last seems strange to be alone
    But after all said and done
    Home is where I belong.

    My Brother

    by Brian Heard

    My brother came yesterday,
    He is my best friend
    I love him so much
    I tell him everything.

    In my manic episodes he was there,
    In my depression he comforted me,
    His children understand my moods,
    Unlike friends who come and go, and do not understand.

    I'm feeling lazy so that's all I will write,
    But just these few lines will help me sleep better tonight.


    by Ian Ellard

    The day has a leaded weight.
    Control and desire lost to medieval force.
    From behind us benile mask they impose and control.
    Armies of tallymen document the mighty project.
    Minions toil. Hopes crushed the modern
    Pyramid builders spend their waking hours and unconscious minds under the control of the Office pharaoh
    The target becomes a tomb, an edifice of freedom lost,
    Crushed and spent.
    Lost and hopeless Orwellian control smashes,
    And crushes optimism hope cut freedom.
    The endless winter of repression leads to a loss of hope that only the carrot of 'retirement' and pension holds - a false dawn that never comes.


    by Delyth Andrews

    When I listen to music it makes me feel high and satisfied
    And that makes me feel happy and glad.
    My favourite music is black music as it has got soul and rhythm.
    When I used to go dancing, I used to dance to the groove.

    A Rhyme

    by Les Williams

    Daryl has asked us to write a rhyme
    And I suppose it's a good way of passing the time.
    We could be sitting here eating biscuits and getting fat,
    Writing poetry is certainly better than that!

    Being my Self

    by Mark Fletcher

    There are no guarantees in this dark world
    Of fear and stress and nasty voices cold.
    Whenever I feel threatened or alone
    I only need to turn within and see
    The gracious sun which in its stillness moves
    And reminds me I only need to BE!
    Forgiveness is the key to getting here,
    Releasing chains which bind me to 'out there'.
    Within my mind there is a place of Peace.
    It is my rock, my fortress, my heart's ease.
    Deeper than thought, gentler than my desire,
    It comforts me with such a warming fire.
    Whenever I'm afraid or in a mess
    I am my SELF. I can be nothing less!

    A Poem

    by Jackie

    I'm Half a century old but the pain is still there,
    I was a young girl and had very long hair,
    But this was just a tool to be grabbed and pulled around,
    To be abused and thrown to the ground,
    To be Slapped, to be hit and told I was bad
    This was just the beginning and I was very sad.
    The person who did this was supposed to love me,
    It was my Mother! And this was not to be
    I screamed and cried but there was no one there
    Am I really that bad, 'can this be fair?'
    My dad was not there, he wad working away,
    I would pray to see him each and every day.
    When he came home I was so happy and glad,
    I would try and tell him, he wouldn't listen; I was sad.
    My mum said I was lying and my tears were not real
    Where should I go? What should I feel?
    'Crocodile tears' to my dad she said,
    I was an actress then I was sent to bed!
    I remember I was young and I wanted to die,
    It would be my only escape and this is no lie.
    I drank my mum's perfume thinking this would do the job, it didn't work, I would cry and sob.
    I have so many things that I want to say
    But the pain is still raw and it wont go away.
    My life is now shaped from the way I was treated, but even my mother wont win, I will not be defeated!
    I'm mentally ill and was diagnosed insane,
    But my life is a struggle, this is not a game.

  • Click on the name of an artist below to see their work:

    Janet Reynalds

    EKUF member ( B.Ed Hon. Fine Art Education)

    I was born in Margate in 1954. At school I had a talent for drawing and was encouraged to go to Art school. I studied at Medway College Art Design, New lands Park College of Ed .And studied fine Art with Reading University. Fortunately, I past my exams and was able to teach Art to Infants.

    Due to stress, incurring a mental health problem, I retired, and have not worked for several years. My last job was a voluntary artist at the Q.E.Q.M. Xray Dept. Myself and my friend painted several seascape murals and signposts to aid patients on their way to therapy.

    I am interested in how colour effects mood and mind. For example green creates a feeling of peace and tranquillity, while orange, yellow & red, brightens countenance, and mind. My favourite colour is turquoise, but then I love the sea, being at the sea-side the towns in Thanet are busy places, lots of people, amusements, beaches, lovely sunsets, cliff walks & sea-air. All good for people needing a healthy environment... I like to draw boats, people, and seascapes as pastimes. I love swimming, photography.

    Exhibitions include Broadstairs library, Margate library. I love to paint as it helps to express how I feel and this is therapeutic. My ambition is to involve myself, and for my mental health to improve. Developing art projects is an aim I have in mind, with many works yet to sell.

    I hope you have enjoyed the pictures I have showcased here.

    Lorna Vince


    I'm 58, born in Broadstairs, spent 25 years as a legal secretary in London, until moving to Deal 6 years ago. I have OCD. I began painting a few months ago. It all started with a miniature. I'd been going to a local art class for people with mental health problems, for about a year, but could only ever be bothered to draw. I've dabbled with painting in the past, but had forgotten the techniques, and couldn't motivate myself to start again, with all the trial and error that would be involved.

    Then our teacher's subject for one week (should we choose to try it), was painting a miniature. Because it was so small it felt possible, so I had a go I chose one of my photos to paint from (I'm also a keen photographer). I started it in class and then made myself have a go at home. I finished it - what's more, it was good! Inspired by my tiny success I decided to try to paint another of my photos, on a small canvas block that had come with my paint set. It was a real turning point for me - I had to do battle with myself, and it was a struggle, to correct mistakes, and persevere. It took a long time but I finished it - taking it to class one week for some guidance - and now it's signed and on my wall, and I've been painting ever since.

    Those first 2 were in acrylics.

    Then I tried a simple watercolour - the seagulls - I couldn't get the sea right - and I still struggle with sea and sky - but I was really excited when my seagulls seem to come to life in front of me.

    I still do acrylics but I prefer watercolour, although it is difficult, because of its light quality. I'm still learning and gaining skills, and sometimes when I achieve a painting, I can't believe I've done it!

    I find painting therapeutic - the focus, and the satisfaction, and on a personal level, this is the first time I've had the will to start again from scratch when my first attempt hasn't worked - that's a biggy for me.

    Exhibitions include Broadstairs library, Margate library. I love to paint as it helps to express how I feel and this is therapeutic. My ambition is to involve myself, and for my mental health to improve. Developing art projects is an aim I have in mind, with many works yet to sell.

    I hope you have enjoyed the pictures I have showcased here.

    Lorna Vince - Personal

    2012 Exhibition

    Well, not my own personal Exhibition, but I will be exhibiting 3 of my latest paintings in an Open Exhibition in a local Studio - how exciting is that?

    I started painting about 3 years ago. I attended an art class held locally for people with mental health problems. At first I only did drawing - I'd painted a bit in the past but it seemed too much of an effort now to try to revive the skills I'd developed then.

    One week the teacher suggested we have a go at painting a 'miniature'. Being so small I thought that would not be too taxing, so I had a go. I was surprised and delighted at what I produced. So then I dug out a small canvas that had come with an acrylic starter kit which I'd bought but never used, and I set to and painted some flowers from one of my photographs. This was the first time I can remember having the motivation and perseverance, when my first attempt didn't work, to start again from scratch (I've never been good at viewing mistakes as natural and learning from them). So.... progress.

    This painting took a while to complete, but was another success, and so I kept going. I was already into photography as a hobby, so this was my source of subjects. Each one was a struggle and still took a long time, but it has got easier and I can actually see my progress now. I put my paintings up at the old Resource House and sold some to the members there, for a small amount to cover my materials. It was quite a boost that people liked what I'd done and I find in very gratifying that others get pleasure from my work.

    Last year I joined an Adult Education class in Watercolour, and took a block of lessons with Penny Bearman (a local artist) doing acrylics, with the particular aim of freeing up my style (I have OCD so tend to be over precise and detailed). I applied for and was awarded funding for this from the Personal Development Fund.

    I think now I can dare to call myself, at least a budding, artist. I am looking forward to seeing my paintings on the walls of the Burning Bush Gallery (I will of course be taking photos for my album).

    Lorraine Nicholson

    Hope 4 Recovery

    Since I was a small child I have been interested in making my own unique personal response to the world through my artwork. It is essentially what connects me to the world around me. It is my language, my way of being in the world. At the age of 15 I was introduced by my father to photography which has become a passion. Going to art school was my almost inevitable dream but I got side-tracked into "getting the proper job"! and instead went to university in Scotland to study modern languages. It was not my language...moderate depression in my final year was the sign. But I continued on the erroneous path with jobs in tourism, recreation and working for disability charities until at the age of 40 I was stopped in my tracks by major depressive illness which has seen me hospitalised four times now.

    However, my creative outlets gave expression in the fullness of time to my inner Angst and allowed me to use my artwork in a recovery-focused way like a purging. What emerged was a collaboration of my poetry, artwork and photography in published book form, "The Journey Home" which traces my recovery through illness to hope to recovery. I am now at art school studying film-making and photography and hoping to use it in future with my peer support skills to work alongside others so that their voices can be heard too.

    Visit my website at: www.hope4recovery.co.uk

    Marta Martyna


    This baby dragon piece was drawn a few years ago using fineliners and copic markers. I started sketching it in a hospital waiting room. My mum liked it and I decided that once it's finished I will give it to her. She's very proud of it to this day and keeps it as the main part of her display of trinkets.


    Raven has to be my main and favourite non-gaming character that I've ever created. I've done a whole A-Level project based on drawing her and telling her story, and it was my most successful one. Her name is also one I go by as an artist name and a gaming nickname. Raven represents me from my mid teenage years to present and her story is based on true events that have happened in my life, the main one being a massive heartbreak I experienced back then. Nowdays I tend to express my mental health disorders and how I feel about them. Hence why she has a gaping bleeding hole in her chest and is usually covered in blood, such as in this picture. Done using mixed media and digitally edited.


    The idea for this piece came about when I visited Space at The Turner with Kay and my partner. The lady who run it gave me the idea for the colorful glass-like effect and I started randomly sketching. I then finished it at home using Sharpies I've had laying around for some time. "Iridescent" is one of my favourite words in the English language, and because of how colourful this piece is, that's how it gained it's name.

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    The Melancholy Spirit

    by Lynn Jackson

    He sneaks in through the back door of your mind this melancholy spirit. He turns a bright sunny day into a black and white sombre day. He turns friends into strangers. He locks you into your cage of isolation. You are in the world but not a part of it. You don the mask of jollity. You hear yourself laughing and joking but it is not you. You seem to be standing outside yourself looking on watching this stranger that is you or a part of you.

    You want to be alone with your grief, yes grief because you have this overwhelming feeling that someone close to you has died but you don't know who it is. You have a total feeling of abandonment and loss. You are alone. The urge to sit in the corner and weep engulfs you. You want to wallow in your isolation.

    Why is the world so awful, negativity invades your being. Is it only you that worries about everything when you see children playing in the park laughing and shouting, you only see potential accidents and tears, you shudder and move on knowing that it is only you that sees it. Why do you see broken bones before they break, hurt before it happens and sorrow before it's dreamt of. Why are parents so blasé? Don't they know the small child beside them could run into the road and be killed while they are happily chatting to a neighbour. When relatives ask you why you don't have children to stay with you, don't you care? they ask, of course you care, you care to much you cant be responsible for that small being it is more than you can bear. It was bad enough looking after your own when they were young, the worry almost outweighing the joy.

    You try to beat it by playing your favourite music but it sounds strange and discordant so you turn it off to go back to your silence. It seems to be all you can do to get from one end of the day to the other. Deep inside you know you are sliding down the pit of despair and you are aware that you wont come up again until you have reached rock bottom. If you tell a close family member that you are down they think it's their fault and try to cheer you up so you tend to keep it to yourself. You avoid making contact with people and go out less and less imprisoning yourself in four walls. Outsiders tell you to pull yourself together and it's all in the mind, of course it's in the mind, what you want is to get it out.

    One day you wake up from your usual fitful nightly sleep with your negative dreams and it's raining but you don't care, today the rain is lovely. You open the back door and feel the warmth of the summer rain and the scent of wet roses. You notice the birds and a little sunlight enters your heart. The melancholy spirit has stepped out and you are elated. Everything is beautiful and worthwhile. The world is both terrible and wonderful in the same instant. Life is worth living after all and you sing along with the radio. Next time the melancholy spirit comes you will be ready for him. You will not let him in. Everything is in Technicolor now. You appreciate everything. He will not bring you down again but deep in your heart you know he may come back sneaking through the back door of your mind but for now everything is wonderful.

    Thoughts on Bullying

    by Anonymous 2006

    Working for a bully is a terrible situation to be in, as I know from experience.

    A bully will never be satisfied with your standard of work.

    A bully will act like a perfectionist and insist that you do a task over and over again, even though you have probably performed the task quite satisfactorily.

    This serves only to undermine your own confidence and if you are of a gentle or nervous disposition can be disastrous.

    A bully's motivation may be that he dislikes you because you are a better, kinder, more honest and just person. Or, he may be homophobic, racist, a bigot etc,... and suspect that you are gay. Basically there are a thousand reasons why someone can hate another person and most of them are trivial.

    You may also be bullied because of political differences and class warfare, or because you have a learning disability or a mental illness.

    Some bullies are subtle and act like your friend. They will be nice to your face but ultimately will be treacherous. They may even manipulate you into acting a certain way or into divulging information that is damaging to your reputation.

    It's a minefield and an ocean of shit that you have to swim through.

    Some of the worst bullying occurs when a gang of bullies join forces to attack an individual. This may be subtle or underhand and you may be oblivious to it at first.

    Bullying doesn't just include physical and verbal abuse but may also include:

    • Being sent to Coventry (Ostracism)
    • Incorrect or inadequate training
    • Disinformation
    • Constructive dismissal
    • The spreading of lies, gossip and hearsay
    • Psychological torment and torture
    • Sophisticated mind games
    • Expecting people to learn things quickly
    • Pressure to conform to unreasonable or dangerous work practices, long hours or particular belief systems and prejudices.
    • Downright rudeness and belittling or humiliation of a person or a person's reputation.
    • The 'honey trap' i.e. exploiting naïve, gullible or vulnerable people into believing someone has a sexual or romantic interest in them, and then accusing them of being a predator.
    • Patronising behavior and attitudes
    Rational & Irrational Contol

    by Peter H Donnelly

    People who hear voices, sometimes experience rational control from the voices - meaning that the voices try to impose controlling reason, onto the voice hearer - telling the voice hearer what to think or do, or imposing questions. This can be caused or influenced, by the way that some psychiatrists, social workers, and mental health workers, have treated and related towards us. Sometimes the voice hearer will talk, or think, irrational and/or meaningless nonsense, to avoid the voices having this rational control, because as a coping-strategy, this often works, and is very effective. This is also why some psychiatric diagnosed people, sometimes mumble, talk, or shout out, irrational or meaningless nonsense.

    Rational control, by others socially, can have the same affect, and also be a way of controlling or repressing the emotions, or more creative, artistic, scientific, or abstract thinking, and it is something that bad teachers and bad politicians try to do to us. There is also such a thing as irrational control, when madness or unreason dominates reason and logical free thinking, and rational and irrational control, can both be connected and related, or used separately or simultaneously against people socially. Rational and irrational control can both be used emotionally and intellectually against people too.

    First of all, I want to look into whether the emotions are experienced first, before rational or intellectual thinking, as a lot of modern alternative psychological theories, tend to simply state that this is the case. It is also a view more widely held by some women than men, maybe because some men and women experience, or are told that they experience things very differently. It's possible that neither the emotions, nor the rational mind or intellect, are experienced first, as what is experienced first, is fragmented, random, chaos. This is a bit too simple an explanation for me though, although I do believe there is some truth in it, but that the crux of the matter, is how raw experience is processed, which makes it primarily emotional or rational, or both.

    I believe that experience comes first, before emotions and thought, as experience is a separate thing in itself, something encompassing the whole mind and being, and something spiritual and sensory. Experience comes first, then perceptions - the transforming or filtering of experience into emotions or thoughts - comes after.

    I do not believe that most normal emotions and thoughts overwhelm people, as there are many subtle kinds of emotions and thoughts, and on the whole we can choose in what way, or to what degree, emotions and thoughts influence or affect us. The times where this is not the case, is if we are being threatened with violence, terrorised, and oppressed, abused or mistreated in some way, and then that choice becomes somewhat problematic or limited, especially if mutual hatred or anger is involved, as anger is a powerful emotion which can annihilate, limit, obscure, or distort feeling and especially thinking.

    Irrational control, seeks to diminish all emotion and thought, to control people in a purely behaviourist way, by their instinctual reactions, and which is why I am opposed to pure behaviourism. In my opinion, pure behaviourism, is just another form of abuse, and it has no place in society or the modern mental health system.

    Understanding the Media

    by David Craddock

    Sometimes the media find it difficult to take an understanding view on mental illness. There are many stories which take an uninformed perspective, and that can be damaging. To unnecessarily add to the misunderstanding and doubt surrounding the subject of mental health is all too easy.

    However, there are several examples that seem to do it right. To offer a real picture of the difficulties involved in mental health, and to offer one which is both realistic and positive - that is rare, and should be celebrated.

    I want to talk about some stories; shown in films and on TV, that can offer a positive view at the problems many of us suffer, and the strength of those who tackle them and move on with their lives.

    The first thing I saw which really challenged my perspective and made me view mental illness differently, was the film "A Beautiful Mind".

    Many have seen it, but if you haven't, it is really worth watching. Russell Crowe plays troubled genius of John Nash, who suffered significantly from paranoid schizophrenia during his real life. Although certainly not alone, John Nash is perhaps one of the better known examples of famous people that suffer from schizophrenia. He went on to win the most prestigious intellectual achievement possible - a Nobel Prize.

    Although there are actually many films that address mental illness, another which I'd like to mention is 'The Soloist'. It is a compassionate film, in which Robert Downey Jr. stars as a workaholic journalist who discovers a strange but gifted musician living homeless in Los Angeles. Based on a true story, the journalist comes to know and understand Nathaniel Ayers, a cello prodigy who, affected by schizophrenia early in his life, came to live on the streets with just a violin for company. Nathaniel himself remains mostly unchanged through the film, he is as much a talented musician as he was from when he first took up the violin, to the time he plays before a prestigious audience in a Los Angeles concert hall. It is really a journey in which Robert, and through Robert many other people, come to understand him.

    The final story I'd like to talk about, is the story of Neil in the 'Up Series'. The Up Series is a real-life documentary filmed over the lifetime of a group of people. Every seven years, from the age of 7 to the age of 49, every person in the group is filmed, along with an update of their life and what they have been doing for the past 7 years. The documentary is quite personal, and every person filmed is asked a series of often difficult questions about their life, hopes and disappointments. One person in the group is Neil. About half way through the series, at the age of 28, Neil starts to suffer badly from mental illness, and becomes homeless. He is filmed living in the highlands of Scotland, where he seems very isolated, friendless, and in a bad state. Later on in the series though, we find him working in London for the Liberal Democrats as an elected councilor who has been voted in by the public. It shows such an amazing strength of character that he has pushed himself past the difficulties he found in being around and accepting people, to actively participating and speaking confidently in politics, and changing things for a cause he believes in.

    What I found inspiring about these films is that those three people have suffered greatly in the same way as many of us have. But each have achieved so much more than many who have never faced the difficulties we face. Each had very different talents, and yet they have made remarkable achievements that shattered preconceptions, and shown that mental illness need not be a major limitation, at all.

    If you wish to watch them, DVDs of The Soloist and A Beautiful Mind can be hired from the public libraries in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. You may have to ask for them specifically, but the librarians are helpful. The "Up Series" can be purchased on DVD from the internet, on www.amazon.co.uk.

    In celebration of My Mum

    by Peter Donnelly

    My mum (Doreen Francis Donnelly) was a very special and unique person. She had a very common touch, understanding, and empathy, with ordinary common people - including elderly people, and people with learning difficulties - who she befriended. She had very good social and communication skills, in that area and respect, and she was liked by many local people.

    My mum was always very generous, and she housed me in her house for nearly twenty years, with her partner Bill, and cared for me in many practical ways. Whilst my mum was not academically gifted, she always supported me in my writing talents, and always complimented me on my mental health articles. She was not religious as such, but on spiritual matters, she was open-minded.

    I will always love my mum, her positive influence very much out-measures and outweighs any faults that she had, and her positive influence and memory will remain in my heart and mind, for as long as I continue to live on this earth.

    Careless Talk

    by Ted Firth

    This story I am about to tell you concerns all of us in this day and age. It's about Jim and Mary Citizen who live in a secluded house just out of town. It could be any town. They have two children- a girl age 10 and a boy of 7.

    Jim and Mary Citizen have booked a holiday going to Disneyland in Florida and they are looking forward to their holiday. One day Mary was in the hairdressers where everybody knows everybody, living in such a small town. Mary, "we are going to Disneyland in Florida". Hairdresser, "Oh! How exciting for you, when you going?". Mary, "First two weeks in August".

    Word soon gets around that Jim and Mary Citizen and the kids are going on holiday. Gossip soon spread like wild fire, living in a small town. The day had come that the family had been waiting for. In Disneyland, Jim and Mary and the kids were going on rides enjoying themselves, not a care in the world.

    Back home they had some unwelcome visitors to their house. Somebody had broken in their house and stolen some valuable items, video recorder, TV set... burglars had a field day.

    It was the end of their holiday and the family flew home. They had arrived back at their house to find that it had been broken into. Clothes thrown on the floor. It was just like it had been hit by a tornado. It's an awful sight to see, that your house has been burgled. It can have a devastating effect on you.

    So next time you go on holiday, take my advice... don't go around telling every Tom, Dick or Harry what your plans are... you don't know who's listening!

    Five days in Wales

    by Ted Firth

    The first week in February I had a five day break in North Wales travelling by coach from Deal. We left Deal at 7.00 am on a long journey which lay ahead of us. I travelled on R&T Tours of Deal. No doubt some of you may have heard or even travelled on Terry's coaches. Terry our driver is a careful driver. He don't go at high speed when driving- driving at average speed. Both Terry and I have known each other since our school days, we are the same age.

    We arrived at our destination, Llandudno at 4.30 pm after travelling for about 7 hours. I am going to tell you about the highlights of our visit.

    First day travelling in the coach we ran into bad weather. We could not see Mount Snowdon because of low clouds. Saw Canarvan Castle where Prince Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales in 1969. Weather had turned. Heavy torrential ran lashing down. Some fields under water looking like lakes. Saw some houses flooded with sand bags at their front doors trying to keep the flood water out. Rivers were like raging torrents, some roads were impassable due to flooding. You must have seen it on TV or read it in the newspapers. The following day was the same weather wise, strong winds and heavy rain.

    Change the subject-our hotel was first class, good food and the staff were friendly and helpful. Our holiday was overshadowed by the appalling weather...it didn't seem to bother us...well, at least we were not flooded staying at our hotel, nor were we waist deep in water.

    It was a holiday to remember!

    Early Days

    by Steven Dale

    The sixties were not as good as they are nowadays. New drugs were made at this time, they did more harm then good for the patients. So new drugs were made which had less bad side effects. In the early years medication had to change for people like myself who take these drugs. I like to think one day I will be off these drugs only time can tell when new drugs will be made so I can totally get rid of them.

    The help of people who looked after people with mental health problems in the early years had to change so their lives could improve in time. So psychiatrists, key workers, carers, doctors, were starting to come into the system of mental health. These people were helping people get a good quality of life, which they really wanted to have. These people understood the different illnesses and how to treat them right and how to deal with the situation, how to tend their needs. There were a lot of bad side effects with drugs in the early years.

    The government started to give people with mental illnesses drugs that helped them get through life much better and it also became less stressful for them. So as the government started to take notice of people with mental illness, of their well being and how they should be treated, so the government had to change their ways on how people were cared for and how they were treated. In the early years of mental health the government did not know how to treat unwell people properly. So sometimes they were given the wrong treatment or wrong drugs, which sometimes made them worse, not better. In the end this was doing them no good at all.

    The changes of new laws for mental health bills have now been brought in so people like myself are getting better, because they had to change so other people like myself will get the right care and help which we all need. In the early years of mental health the laws were not really helping, these laws had to change so people with mental health illness had the quality of life that they intended to have from the start. The laws should be there to protect them so they get the right treatment that they need, because the old laws were out of date that is why they changed them.

    There were more changes needed to happen so daycentres were being built. People like myself were getting the help from these places so I was getting the care and attention of qualified staff. These staff were the jewel in the crown, because they were there when we needed them. The government started to put money in these places so people like myself got the due care that we needed. In my own view things had to change so more money is now being given to the mental health teams, so they can do their jobs properly. So now people with all kinds of mental illnesses are recovering and starting to get the quality of life, which they should be getting so they had to change for me, and other people who are recovering.

    In the early years of mental health there were no self-help groups which people needed to rely on because these organisations were not around at the time. The social services was in its early years so the social workers were staring to understand how to care and look after people with severe mental illness. So supporting places were starting to be built so people's lives would get much better for them as time moved on. More help is now being given to people like myself who have these illnesses that are now a way of life. The trouble is, more of these places need to be built so people can get the support and care they need. These changes had to happen now because in the past these places of help were not around at the time.

    Butterfly Mind

    by Anon

    The use of the word 'mental' is so much deplored, admittedly it refers to 'the mind' but to call someone 'mental' is to insult them. Indeed in Chambers Thesaurus the synonyms give are: crazy, deranged, disturbed, insane, loony, loopy, lunatic, mad, psychotic, unbalanced and unstable.

    All users/survivors will recognise the above words. They are insulting in themselves. The word 'psychiatric' is the best word avaiable (apart from the fact no one can spell it!) because Psyche was the Greek representative of the soul and is symbolised by the most beautiful and gentelest of creatures - the butterfly.

    Clients of 'the system' are mostly people with butterfly minds and are simply not understood. They fly above common humanity, the hoi-polloi.

    The ability to flit from one subject to another is beyond the comprehension of most people. They are better than they are, more clever and rarer.

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    by Jude Ashton Berry

    "Anger is an emotion people can have when their needs aren't met. It needs to be validated and listened to with compassion like any other emotion. Burying, denying or trying to destroy anger (in yourself or others) can be extremely harmful. I certainly wouldn't recommend using it to justify hurting anyone or calling it a solution to difficulties, like a warning light or alarm isn't a solution but a signal to draw your attention to a problem. Shaming or disowning anger doesn't make it go away any more than breaking the smoke alarm puts out fires. The fire alarm isn't the fire extinguisher, and it's important not to confuse them, but they both have their place."

    My story

    by James Garner

    Back in 2014 I started sketching using sketchbook pro app on iPad just using my finger to draw all of them. I probably drew about 50 different pictures over a couple of months but I never shared them as I was always filled with self doubt of my work and due to a lot of negativity that I see online I was too scared to say "hey everyone look what I've done". All of these thoughts eventually led to me forgetting about my drawing.

    Back in November last year my anxiety and depression completely took hold of me, I ended up having a huge break down, I didn't look forward to anything and just merely existed for my friends and family, I had a lot of suicidal thoughts on a daily basis, this entire time I did not take any medication or talk to anyone about how I was feeling. After my breakdown I went to see a doctor and received medication but it only helped a little. Months went on and back in August 2017 I picked up my iPad and started drawing again. I must've drawn another 50 pictures in a few weeks. I'd spent hours looking through my own pictures and found that when drawing I completely switched off from the outside world. After a whole day of drawing from when I woke up in the morning to late in the evening, I was looking back through the pictures and found myself smiling for what seemed like the first time in months. I had a moment where I thought "these pictures make me happy, and that's what matters, if others don't like it then that's up to them but I'm proud of what I've drawn" I shared it to my own Facebook page, in those first few hours I was nervous to even look at my phone, when I did look I couldn't believe how much love the picture had received (the first picture was the crying man in the rain).

    I posted a few more pictures online and they received the same response. People I knew from work were private messaging asking if I could draw artwork for them to use on their albums, one particular guy who asked first said what would I charge, instantly I knew that all the profits I made from these pictures should go to a mental health charity. I set up a Facebook page a couple of weeks later and within a day had received over 250 likes. My colleague, Brian at work mentioned his wife had seen them and absolutely loved them and how she felt so incredibly emotional looking at them. This encouraged me to set up Instagram and a deviant art page, all of which had loads of likes. I was getting messages from people with similar problems, and I realised I really wasn't alone. I did posts on my on Facebook telling my story and the whole world opened up to me. To have these messages from strangers saying they found some pieces incredibly uplifting was incredible.

    I felt like I had purpose, everyday is different, if I have a bad day, I can express that via my artwork and I have been encouraging others to do so too. I will never give up, even if I'm anxious and depressed for the rest of my life (which I don't believe will happen) knowing that even one of my drawings might bring a smile to a strangers face when they're feeling at their absolute lowest will make everything worth it.

    Visit to Dover Castle

    by Hazel Malik

    About three weeks ago I went to Dover Castle. It was arranged by the Margate Civic Society - the weather was not good.

    I went down the tunnels. The first tunnel was the Dynamo Operation. It was when the little ships went over to Dunkirk to rescue the soldiers of all nationalities - not Germans. It was very interesting. Then I went to see the hospitals where the men went and got treatment till they were transferred to Dover Hospital. I did not have time to see the Castle.

    Then we went to Sandwich.

    Hello, my name is Simone

    by Simone

    I am a transgender woman. My journey started about two and a half years ago. I have always Known who I should be. I found the courage and confidence to begin my transition to become the woman I should be today with the help of a really good friend that made a lot of difference. I will soon be starting my estrogen hormone treatment so that I develop a feminine figure.

    I will soon be opening a face book page TRANSGENDER SUPPORT GROUP called 'remove the mask, be yourself'. The intention of this group is to support transgender women and men and their families and to make the journey for all concerned much easier especially the person transitioning.

    There are so many issues for transgender people, you need to be understood and be respected for person you are it is not always an easy journey, for the most it is down to what society expects us to look like and how we act. What matters is 'US', there are also issues with how we are addressed if you present as female you should be addressed as 'her' and 'she'. The other issue is the correct toilets, whatever your gender you need to be yourself and celebrate and embrace the person you are.

    Go out in the world with pride and show them how good you are. It is a case of out of the dark into the light, that's why a support group is so important; to promote more understanding and tolerance and fight for trans women's rights and women's rights.


    by In Bel

    I was sitting in my rowing boat, watching the dolphins playing in the water only a few metres away. As I watched, one of the dolphins detached itself from the group and began swimming toward me. I thought it was just being nosy as it came right up to my vessel and raising its head gazed at me quizzically.

    "Hello, feller" I said patting its snout affectionately, "what are you after, then? I have no fish for you I'm afraid." The dolphin regarded me for a moment, then to my astonishment, spoke, saying:

    "Hi, I have all the fish I need, thanks, I have come to tell you something"

    I nearly fell into the water, such was my surprise! I knew that dolphins could communicate with each other, but to actually talk? Wow, this was really something! It took a moment or two for me to recover my composure during which time the dolphin watched me with an amused expression on its face.

    "Okay, then tell away" I finally replied, feigning a nonchalance which I'm certain did not fool the dolphin for one moment, "I'm always interested in listening to what others have to say."

    I then remained silent. I lit a cigarette and relaxed. I waited to hear what the dolphin had to say. What words of wisdom would it impart, what universal insights would it share with me?

    After a second or two, the dolphin finally opened its mouth and looking deep into my eyes said:

    "You smoke too much" and with that, it rejoined its friends and together they swam away, frolicking as they went, revelling in the pleasure of just being.

    Visit to Deal

    by David Dixon

    I drove Scott, Ian and Pav on an outing to Deal on a perfect sunny day. The main highlight was a stroll along the pier which happens to be the length of the Titanic.

    As the photo shows Scott was nearly 'thrown' in the water as an act. Tea and coffee was then served at the entry of the pier - well after a considerable time.

    The sunset was breath-taking and we were sorry to depart. But we 'raided' the shops and the charity shops and ended with beverages just before the cafe shut.


    by Susan Smith

    I sometimes wonder what people think of me when I'm out. Usually people ignore me as I find talking hard unless it is someone I feel safe with. People might think I'm a bit simple but it is that I find expressing myself hard! People sometimes comment nastily and it hurts! I am frightened a lot. I have schizophrenia and I feel I can't tell anyone my fears unless it gets so bad that I have to! I'm frightened of people thinking I'm different. I worry people who come with me when we go out, must be so embarrassed!

    Visit to Dover

    by David Dixon

    Another trip by the same travelling 'Quartet' - this time to the famous white cliffs of Dover on another sunny day. The views were breath-taking and the French coast was clear only 21 miles away. There were crowds lining the paths and we talked halfway to the South Foreland Lighthouse. On our return we walked a different route to the Visitors Centre and had the inevitable cups of coffee and teas and discussed our wonderful day. Next stop Wingham Wildlife Park.

    Summer get together

    by ...

    I was asked to join a group in July their group was called ASHA where the group had social phobia's. So to help themselves they put together the ASHA group. They visit different places to help each other not be at home - all day and enjoy life.

    Maggie and I met them in Margate where we took them to the Shell Grotto which they really liked and to finish their day they went to play crazy golf. Which they said they would thoroughly enjoyed. We now stay in contact on Facebook.

    No Treatment for Mental Health Problems

    by Anon

    I was struggling with my mental health, but I was unaware that I was ill. I was, by my description on reflection, hyper-manic by excessively drinking, being promiscuous and fleeting between jobs. I was not me, and even now I still don't recognise that 21 year old or know who she was. Along with that I was very suicidal and constantly self harming in various ways. I drank excessively to numb my mind, cutting and scratching at my skin, starving myself and misusing my antidepressants.

    One day I snapped. I snuck out of the pub I was in and ran to the beach. I swallowed every pill I had (paracetamol, ibuprofen, anti-histamine and Prozac) and hoped for the sea to wash me away. Eventually a friend found me and, I'm not sure how, found out that I took an overdose. He called an ambulance and they arrived pretty quickly. I tried to walk away but they stopped me.

    I spent a couple of hours in A&E, nothing happened. I lied on a trolley crying my eyes out. My friend had to leave, to which I was glad about (I wanted to be on my own) and I was vastly on my own for the whole time. Later they admitted me to the Clinical Decisions Unit.

    It was the worst experience ever. The ward was loud and I was again left on my own. I was thirsty, very thirsty in fact, and every nurse I asked for a drink told me they'd be back later. The jug next to me was empty and two hours later I begged with the catering staff to give me something to drink, they gave me 100ml of orange juice, nothing more. I wanted to go get my own drink but being on suicide watch I could not leave the bay, I should have ran for it!

    Eventually I was seen by a mental health nurse and a doctor (psychiatrist or psychologist, I can't remember). She deemed me well but the mental health nurse was not convinced. I told him I was scared and I needed help. He called psychiatric hospitals in Kent and they were all full, the nearest possible hospital was over 100 miles away. He said that being that far away would be more detrimental to my health and said that there was nothing more that could be done. I was discharged and made to make my own way home.

    The crisis team saw me later and, guilty and hurt over the experience, I told them I was fine and I didn't need any help. I proceeded to self-harm and tried one more suicide attempt, where I was taken to a different hospital and discharged within a few hours because they underestimated my overdose. Despite having an ECG and other tests I received no treatment for my mental health.

    Am I Wrong To Feel This Way?

    by Dawn

    Today is not a good day. Yes the sun is shining, the kids are well, and there's food in fridge but it's still not a 'good day'. I'm feeling very low, and I know that's a 'reaction' to a uncomfortable experience, but that doesn't mean I don't still feel 'low'. Something happened this weekend. No-one close to me died, the ceiling didn't fall in, nor did I find myself feeling ill, but it was enough to impact on something inside of me, and I feel pretty 'winded'. It was only a repeat prescription order, made as ever, over the telephone, on their answering machine:

    Message: Please state your name, date of birth, prescription requirement and a telephone number. Me: Hi, my name is Dawn, born March 23rd and I need all the meds on my repeat. Could you also ask GP to add an additional two weeks as I will be unavailable to collect next month's order. Could you please telephone me if you need any more information on my mobile number... On Saturday I got a lift to Sainsburys to shop and popped my script in at the pharmacy. I went back 20 minutes later. The pharmacist said

    Pharmacist: 'I'm sorry, I can't dispense your prescription because the GP has written on it by hand, and when they do this, we have to telephone the surgery to confirm. I am sorry but as it is a weekend I can't get hold of them, so I can't do this.' Me: 'Oh, I see that's a little odd and embarrassing but I understand, I'll just pop it into my usual pharmacy on Monday.'
    On Monday I took it to Boots. I said: 'Hi' (smile) 'Took these to Sainsburys on Saturday but pharacist explained he was unable to dispense because as you can see the GP has written on the scripts, so can I leave them with you so you can call surgery and sort it out?'

    The Pharmacist said: 'Yes' I went back a few hours later, and she said: 'There's a problem, I can't dispense these because the Surgery are saying they don't know who wrote on them because the GP who signed them is not in today, so another GP has said you can't have them.' Boots locally is quite small, and it was a little busy, so this was becoming a little embarassing

    'So' I said. 'what does that mean exactly, because they are as they were when I picked them up, save for your pharmacy stamp?' 'Well' she said, 'they can't be sure the GP wrote on them, it's not normal practice because they are a controlled drug.' I was getting a little uptight by then, 'controlled drug' made me wonder what the other customers waiting behind me may be thinking at that point. So I rang the surgery. The Receptionist said 'We wouldn't have written on the prescription and that is why the Doctor has refused it, I'll get him to call you.

    I replied: 'Well someone there DID write on them, and this has meant that twice I have been refused my medication, and it's hugely embarassing, and humiliating. She said: The Doctor will call you. Indignant at that point I asked the very helpful Boots pharmacist, if they happened to have a photocopier and if they did could they please supply me with a copy of these scripts because 'I'm not enjoying the implication that they 'may have' been tampered with by me' A very obliging and sympathetic staff in this small Boots store obliged.

    Armed with my photocopy and red face indignant anger I went directly to the surgery. I showed reception my photocopy. Again, in waiting room with other patients, I was subjected to words such as 'people tamper'; 'controlled drugs'; 'safety'; 'protection' and 'GP refusal'. By then I was very angry, I felt very embarrassed and exposed in front of other patients, and quite franky I wanted vindiction. I said I wanted to see the GP doing the 'refusing' and 'suggesting'.

    He did see me, he did acknowledge that it was indeed his colleagues signature and handwriting on the amended prescription. He apologised but wasn't particularly 'sorry'. He was quite indifferent, even when I said that I felt I'd been unnecessarily humiliated in two pharmacies, and that the refusal on the Saturday had meant I was without medication for two days - which could have been detrimental. Indeed at that point, sat in his room, my heard was hammering, and that didn't stop until long into yesterday evening.

    So, I didn't sleep well. I awoke early. I'm left with an odd feeling I can't describe, it's a bit like sadness. I suppose I feel they attacked my integrity. There were indications, should the GP have takentime to check, on my records which would indicate I do not abuse medication, have a long history of a good relationship with my own GP's and have always been an open and honest client.

    Interestingly the pharmacists merely did their job, they were apologetic and in the case of Boots, actually very supportive. The Surgery however, I think they 'reacted' they made a decision that because my medication is for a mental illness the prescription had been altered by the me, the patient. I find this generalisation abhorrent and stigmatising. They had no justification for assuming I would do that, nothing in my history would indicate I would suddenly, randomly attempt to alter a prescription. It feels as if they've almost said: 'You are the type of person who would forge a prescription' and that's feels horrible.

    My Psyche, Walk and Talk

    by Anon

    I go on a walk and talk with other psychic people. My psyche, the very soul of me is my DNA which makes me and will still be there when I die. My psyche the very spirit of me, energetic and ghostly, that's always playfully smiling. My psyche, my mind and your mind, your own, be tolerated to the extreme. Sometimes on a walk and talk I have a psycho experience, but who will ever think so, I'm with other psyche minded people and we all share the same concept.

    We go for our walk and talk along the beach and when its cold we wrap up warm and huddle together like penguins and when its warm we spread out, in between the walk leaders. I never feel alone because when I turn around there's always a group of people to talk to and I know at least one day a week I am 'out' of the house and 'included'. So its all about psyche which brings me here to the vast golden sands of Margate beach, a coastline vivid and colourful and lined with huge white cliffs. I can be captured but can always escape.

    On Being Demoted

    by Jenny West

    Dear folks!

    I thought I would share with you all my latest experience of our dear mental health team.

    I recently saw my psychiatrist, who was looking at my past notes, and decided for his own reasons that I needed to be offered Olanzapine. At this stage I feel it necessary to tell you that I have been free of anti-psychotics for approx 5 years. Despite my achievements, I am studying for a degree, and I am an educational mentor (certificated), and I run my life very successfully, and I am a valued member of my community, so why has my psychiatrist made this decision that I needed Olanzapine and why? What has he based this on remains an absolute mystery to me, so I finally asked why? He replied that he thought it might be useful, I imagine he meant it would be useful for putting stones on in weight, numbing my mind and making me have the sensation that I had acute sunburn! Needless to say I refused it. There was nothing he could do. Force feeding probably is a thing of the past, but there was no other way that I was going to have this muck injected into me, especially for no reason, what so ever.

    The conversation continued, and now I have to tell you that I am gay. What about your relationships he enquired how is that going? I replied that if he was prepared to tell me about his, I would willingly tell him about mine. Needless to say he declined. Suddenly he relaxed, a smile then flickered across his face.

    You are a pretty intelligent woman, he patronizingly announced to me. No I replied, I am very intelligent, and I don't need you to tell me. You are doing very well he said, I replied as a woman or as a manic depressive?

    At the end of our conversation he decided to downgrade me from Manic Depressive to Bi-Polar underlying and controlled. Look at the words; is he actually saying there's nothing mentally wrong with me?

    You will note that at the start of my meeting with this Psychiatrist, was I not who I am, I could even as I write be swallowing Olanzapine for absolutely no reason. Amazing, frightening and sadly absolutely the truth.

    If you are in any doubt, as to your medication and it's effects please contact us and feel free to ring or write to me or a chat may lead somewhere to helping you.

    My Dog Eddie

    by Luke

    I saw that you were asking about our experiences and what makes us feel better and about what we have achieved recently. I just thought I would share some of my achievements. In the past year I have been able to go out on my own for the first time in eleven years! I now have the confidence to get a bus or a taxi. Soon I will be taking a train for the first time in twelve years. I am now living and coping on my own. It certainly hasn't been an easy road. I have had intensive therapy to get where I am today. For the first time today I ran the tea bar at the Live It Well centre and really enjoyed interacting with people. I try to use all my resources that I have learned over the years. One of the most important things for me is to remember that I am in the here and now. Staying grounded in the present is vital for me. The past is difficult to cope with but it is the past and I am slowly learning to work with it. I try to use writing and listening to music to get out those pent up emotions. I know my journey is not over by any means but I have come a long way down the road. I have included my favourite photo of all time which is of my dog Eddie catching his ball. This makes me smile.

    Thoughts on the Walk & Talk

    by Jackie

    I have been asked to write something about the walk and talk, so here goes.Firstly, mental health is still a very taboo subject, even now in the 21st Century we are not a part of the so called human race. We just don't fit in. I myself have had a mental health issue for a very long time and spent many years in and out of different mental hospitals. I was diagnosed with one thing, then another and moved around to different institutions because they didn't know what to do with me. I had many E.C.T.'s, which didn't do any good; they basically only wiped away a lot of my memory. I was on loads of different medication which made me put on loads of weight and that made me feel even worse.

    I personally believe there is nothing wrong with me; I'm different that's all, but once you're on high doses of medication it's hard to come off them, so I tried to lower my dose myself, and, of course, I suffered withdrawal symptoms. I'm not saying this is a good thing to do, but for me there was enough of all these pills.

    But let's get back to the walk and talk. We've all experienced something similar so it's nice to be able to talk to people in the same boat, that's if you want to talk, there's no pressure. I personally think that we are special people because our brains are very active and I find myself analysing everything and everyone. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn. Come and join us every Tuesday at 1:00pm from Margate Clocktower.

    Les's singing

    by Les Williams

    Have you heard about the Mustard Seeds?

    They are a singing group for people suffering from depression.

    When I first saw them at one of the user forum events, they invited us all members of the forum to join in.

    Which I did, whilst hunched up in a corner, and in a croaky subdued voice.

    That was over six months ago. Since then I have joined the choir, and regularly now sing away, at the top of my voice, it is a very uplifting experience, my confidence is rising steadily, and my interaction with other people is also much better. If it works for me, it can work for you too, so why not give it a try.

    We have a fantastic teacher called Jane, who brings her husband along, and we all have a lovely time.

    If you would like to join the singing group or find out more about it.
    Please ring Maggie Gallant on 01843 230726.
    We meet every Monday at 7:00pm

    Judith's Story

    by Judith

    I'm a graduate of 54 and my career was ended seventeen years ago when I suffered an acute psychotic episode. I was hospitalised for six months, had six treatments of Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) and found starting all over again one of the hardest things I have ever been faced with. It was like doing a jig-saw puzzle with no picture to follow and some of the pieces missing. The greatest obstacle to my recovery was my severe loss of confidence. Working to retrieve my confidence was a challenge but I got there in time.

    Having a mental breakdown showed me who my true friends were. Several friends deserted me. They could not cope with the idea I had had a severe breakdown. One told me that life's too short for nervous breakdowns. Another said I had lost my sparkle. A cab driver who took me to an outpatient appointment at the psychiatric unit, referred to it as the "nut house".

    I had been labelled a 'psychiatric case' and medicated at the age of fourteen when I became depressed after the death of my grandmother. She had been a major figure in my early life and upbringing. My parents had simply taken me to a psychiatrist without telling me about the appointment. I was too scared to tell the doctor about my dysfunctional family and so was my mother.

    After the psychotic illness in 1993 my recovery was slow but it was sustained and last year I decided it was time to find my voice.

    I opened up a Word document and started to type. The words came tumbling out. I sent my piece of writing to a friend who suggested I get it published. It was immediately accepted by Mental Health Practice magazine and appeared in the magazine last June in the monthly feature My Mental Health.

    In December last year I found an article in The Times about an author who had her book published by Chipmunka. I felt motivated to write a book and help others as well as myself. I contacted Chipmunkapublishing and, having returned my contract, set about writing a book. This was very different from writing a short article. This time I could hardly keep up with the flow of words and my fingers really flew. In March 2008 Don't Mind Me was published in E book and was soon in the Chipmunka best selling list. Don't Mind Me is the story of my dysfunctional childhood and teenage depression, my abusive first marriage, my experience of rape and domestic violence, my terrifying descent into psychosis and my recovery.

    I was thrilled to see my book reviewed in such journals as The Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing and Your Voice ( Sheffield ). I posted details of my book wherever I was able, on Social Perspectives Network, and social networking sites. I wanted to spread the word. I wanted to raise awareness of mental illness and try to get people to see there should not be any stigma attached to mental illness. I have received many messages of support from people who are in mental distress and many positive reviews and comments about my book, in particular from mental health professionals

    In October 2008 Don't Mind Me was published in paperback. It was so empowering to see my book in print. The process of writing my story was very cathartic. It has helped me find closure. I have found that the process of writing about traumatic events has helped those events to lose their power in my psyche and the memories hardly bother me now.

    Since writing my book I have achieved something I never thought I would achieve. I have passed my GCSE in Maths. My father had taken me out of maths lessons at school so I never sat the exam. This affected my choice of subjects and though I went on to graduate in Politics I am now finding I love to study science and I am back at college taking a core science course. I have also found the courage to start driving our car again after a break of six years. I would like to continue writing.

    If there is anyone out there who wants to speak out or take action against mental health discrimination I would say, don't hesitate, do it. Get a notebook and start writing. Get the words on to the paper. You can polish the words later. It is so good for the psyche to write. As far as mental health discrimination goes contact your local rethink User Forum office and see if you can go on their free one day media training day to learn how to speak up against things you read that don't seem right. I am about to start working for them part-time on a voluntary basis.

    I came off my medication in 2000 and though I have had to take it again for short spells since I have been medication free for over two years now. I developed cataracts and a weakened liver through taking medication so being able to cope without it means a great deal to me. I have re-married too and having the support of a loving partner is something I never thought I would have and is of great help in maintaining my good mental health.

    To anyone in mental distress, speak up about your experience; we all need to raise awareness of mental illness which affects one in four of us - it can happen to anyone. Let's all work together to end mental health discrimination.

    Paul's Story

    by Paul

    Hi, up until June 2000 I had led a very profoundly lonely life, not by choice, but due to many adverse life event's, that, were beyond my control. As a result of serious violent attack's on me, as a 3 year old 7 and 10 year old, and much violent and mental abuse within the family home. I was living in my own little world, pain and suffering were all I knew, I was very shy and timid, and as a result, I suffered even more through out my schooling, as even children pick up on peoples vulnerability, and it seems human nature for many to treat you as different, and they too continue the abuse.

    When in such trauma You just can't comprehend what is going on, You are in a state of constant shock, You are totally defenceless, it is impossible to thrive as what is perceived as a normal life. I had no one to turn to, for help, as a six year old a teacher threw things at me, as I sat in the back corner, and called me names, and allowed others to attack me, often as I was wetting myself such was my fear and helplessness.

    It should be no surprise, that I had no education, I learned nothing at school, except the inhumanity of people, Rarely could I gain work, or hold on to it, such was my hidden emotional distress, that people picked up on, and made things even worse, at 19 I was attacked with a knife, I have numerous scars on by back, to prove it, but I was not bothered in the least, and did not go to the Doctors for three day's, such was the sad state of mind I was in.

    Over the years I have cheated death or serious injury hundreds of times. Due to near misses with road traffic, or mishaps at work, this was and is still normal to me. There is so much more physical and emotional pain I have endured. But in 1998 my trauma was taken to a much higher level. I lost my seven month old son, to a rare gene disorder, my pain was irrelevant. It was my son's pain that caused me to scream out for years in the street. Such was the state of mind I was in, when my son died, I was not offered any medication, no advice or support of any kind, just told I could have seven day's sick, and go to work. Obviously life is not that simple, my trauma got much worse, and I had none of my family for support, none of my friends understood or helped. I was truly on my own.

    This is some of my adversity, and the knowledge I have gained from it.

    Next is the beginning of hope and recovery.

    'I saw myself between two dark spaces-One dark space was suicide. The other was pretending there was nothing wrong and carrying on my life without confronting that darkness' - Jeanette Winterson, author of 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit'

    Tabi & Her Gang

    by ...

    Can you imagine not daring to go out on your own for over 3 years in case while you are out you change into somebody else and don't know where you are or how you got there? Can you imagine, while you are at home on your own having daily seizures and periods of blindness? Can you imagine being in constant pain, in your joints and from a multitude of "sores" that cover your body and being so weak that you can hardly walk any distance? I thought not and neither can I, but that's how Tabi, (Jane, Ickle, Mute and the Others), have lived their life for the past 3 years.

    You would think that for the medical profession would be bending over backwards to discover what is wrong with this intelligent young woman who should be in the prime of her life, that the medical profession would be giving her the best treatment that is available to help her, yet despite the recommendations of more than one eminent specialist health care professional that she needs specialist expert treatment for the Dissociative Identity Disorder that she suffers from, (a diagnosis that is increasingly being recognized as a manifestation of extreme trauma, PTSD II), St George & Tolworth MHT are point blank refusing to finance the specialist treatment that she requires, with all they are offering her is weekly meetings with her CPN, medications and a return to a psychiatric unit where in the past she suffered the extreme trauma of a serious sexual assault with that trauma seriously contributing to her condition, a situation that beggars belief.

    Tabi is a member and moderator of Kate's Place, an online mental health peer support group that has for the past 2 years has been fighting alongside Tabi in an attempt to get her the treatment that she not only needs, but deserves, re-admittance to The Retreat Hospital in York, the place where she was first diagnosed by a leading specialist as suffering from extreme trauma, (PTSD II), yet despite enlisting Edward Davey, her local MP's help almost a year ago she is not only any nearer getting the help that she requires, but has deteriorated considerably and as well as her previously mentioned difficulties is left living under a constant cloud of depression and suicidal thoughts.

    If somebody were to leave a dog living as Tabi is they would end up in court charged with cruelty, how do St George and Tolworth MHT get away with it? Sadly, it is not uncommon for the victims of complex extreme trauma to be treated as Tabi is with X's excellent web site, www.traumatised.org, with the tag line, Not Insane - Nor to Blame, containing some terrific essays and articles that would assist any reader to not only understand the subject of Complex Post Traumatic Stress, (PTSD II), but Tabi's situation, something that is happening to so many others too.

    Where does Tabi and her gang go from here?

    Les on Walking

    by Les Williams

    Do you remember that old Helen Shapiro song of the sixties ?

    Well, Walking back to happiness is what we do every Wednesday, Via the Walk and Talk group.

    With the summer on its way, We are looking forward to some sunny strolls along the beautiful coastline.

    We all agree that walking is a great antidote for depression. So why not join us and start walking back to happiness, or start by just strolling back to sanity.

    So if you feel like I did get out of that chair and come and join us. I guarantee you will feel a different person after half a dozen walks with us.

    The Birthday

    by Anon

    I SOBBED in front of the doctor. She gently asked me when I began to feel so desperate and I told her it was on my daughters' birthday.

    Well, Walking back to happiness is what we do every Wednesday, Via the Walk and Talk group.

    Admitting that such a supposedly joyous day should cause me pain, was hard. I felt guilty. Why shouldn't I just shut up and get on with it like everyone else? But as I sat on my bed at 3am, crying and contemplating throwing myself through the window, I knew I had to seek medical help. Despite thinking everyone would be better off without me, part of me was still rational enough to know I didn't want to feel like this.

    My daughters' birthday was the last straw because here I was again, organising a party, doing the food, booking cinema tickets, sorting invitations and anticipating the arrival of a gaggle of eight to nine-year-olds for a sleepover. What was I thinking? I was taking too much on. Alongside the day to day tasks of work and family, for me, at this time, it was too much. It was the same every Christmas. But would I admit it? Would I hell. Until I saw the doctor.

    The day before, in my work as a freelance journalist, I'd interviewed two women. One had lost one of her twins at birth; the other had been kidnapped at knifepoint. Both began to cry on the phone. I started too and couldn't stop. The thought of letting down these women by not being able to tell their stories, not to mention the editors waiting for the copy, was too much to bear.

    To my shame, I never went back and explained to those interviewees why their stories never saw the light of day. I lost contact with the editors too. I didn't want to be remembered as the one who was nuts. Like all journalists, I can thrive under pressure. I know it's part of what being a journalist is all about but it also brought back terrible memories of a doctor telling me I had 'reactive depression' years earlier In a newsroom, I'd been told to 'f**k off home' as I was 'obviously mental'. That was after taking time away to visit a brother seriously injured in an accident and returning with what my editor called 'a face like a slapped arse.'

    I raged inside and wondered if any other industries got away with treating employees like that. I never spoke up and quit instead. This time, with more than me to think about, I knew I had to get better and quick.

    With the doctor's help I did. I was prescribed anti-depressants. I took them for three months and remembered what it was like to be me again. And thank God I did. As my family approaches our beloved girls' birthday, I think I am safe to say I am glad I never jumped out of that window. And ever since, I have spoken up to get more support and help when these family milestones approach.

    That year, I fell asleep in the cinema. I had no energy. Last year, as we enjoyed a day in Blackpool in the rain, there was no stopping me and this year, well this year we are all set for quite an adventure.

    I hope my simplistic tale of recovery from depression may help someone somewhere.

    Gay Forum

    by Ian Carter-Chapman

    Since 1993 I have been a member of the Gay Forum, which provides support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexuals users and ex - users of mental health services. Last year, an Ashford Gay Forum was started. Originally meeting for coffee in the Charlotte Centre at Margate, we now enjoy a monthly get- together in local restaurants, the latest being held at The Promenade by Margate Station.

    In 2009, we forged a link with a similar group in Brighton. Mind Out, and enjoyed a trip to the city- by-the-sea to meet them. Both groups offer a good opportunity to meet other LGBT people in a supportive and friendly environment- this cannot always be found in a gay bar, especially if you are feeling vulnerable or fragile resulting from your mental health.

    Although one in four people of all sexuality's ages, and genders will experience some form of mental health difficulty, it's been found that people from gay and transgender communities are significantly more likely to do so. Recent research has shown that more than 40% of LGBT people are affected by significant mental health problems, compared with 25% of the whole population and we are also more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide than the population as a whole- there is a tree planted in Brighton in memory of those who have taken their own lives.

    So why do LGBT people have higher rates of mental health issues? The most likely explanation is that we experience stigma and discrimination, and it can be from an early age. As you grow up, you become aware that you are 'different' - and the public outcry in the national and local press when a Broadstairs primary school had the courage to mention homophobic bullying at an assembly would have done little to change the feelings of isolation.

    The Daily Mail's controversial comments on the death of Boy zone singer Stephen Gately shows that the press have changed little since gay equality was enshrined in law and, also in 2009, a gay couple in Northfleet had to flee their home after more than 100 incidents of abusive and anti- social behaviour-homophobia is far from over. The commercial gay press tend to paint a rosy picture of perfect bodies, latest fashions and a successful lifestyle, and this, in turn, can contribute to feelings of low self-esteem and self- worth. There are times when you feel you don't fit in. And that is when groups such as Re-thinks' Gay Forum and Mind Out play a major part in raising confidence and help to reduce feelings of low self-esteem through support and activities.


    by Louise Jessup

    'To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.' - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    'Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.' - Dr. Seuss

    A lot is being said at the moment in Mental Health about Recovery. So what's it all about and what are the key elements behind all the theory?

    It could be said that all the years I was ill and spent times in between hospital admissions going to Adult Education classes, doing Archaeology with the British Museum, that I was living in a form of Recovery. At least the training on Recovery that I deliver to staff using my journey would suggest that, after all in Social Inclusion terms, I was out doing community activities and things on a regular basis. Recovery, as referred to by Anthony in his quote from 1993, is - 'A deeply personal unique process of changing one's attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and roles. It's a way of living a satisfactory, hopeful and contributing life even with the limitations caused by illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one's life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness'.

    I was apparently living a satisfactory, hopeful and contributing life within the limitations caused by my illness. I also had lots of very loyal friends who continued to support me through the difficult times and yet I continued to go into hospital every 10 or 11 mths. So what changed to help me be as well as I am now?

    Having lost my career as a Physiotherapist at the age of 23, I had always seen myself as a failed physio, even though there was never a suggestion that my work was anything but professional, the loss of career was due to the time I had off as incompatible with regular work. But failed physio I felt I was, no matter that textiles, archaeology, (cemetery work from the Iron Age was my passion), computers and all the other things I could turn my hand to, made no difference to how I was, a failed physio. I couldn't work as a physio so I couldn't in my eyes do anything else.

    Through the counselling I had, not CBT, but Transactional Analysis with Solution Focus primarily, things began to change and after a spell spent in the physio dept seeing how much it had all changed, helped me realise I could never go back. Reading a lot of life coaching books, whilst having the counselling added so much and slowly the real me under all that depression began to emerge. I started to see that I was a multi-skilled and talented person that people wanted around because of me and who I was not because I was ill but because of the unique things that I added to the mix. The British Museum wanted me on their excavations because of my skills in the bone shed, the quilting groups wanted me because of my artistic qualities and my friends wanted just me.

    I am not an illness, a depressive, or even BiPolar, I am Louise, a daughter, a sister, friend, Textile Artist and lots of other things besides, but more importantly, I am me, a unique, happy soul, with a wacky sense of humour who loves coming alongside others to share in their journey, because that's what we're all on, a journey through life. Where are you on your journey?

    Who are you? What are your special qualities? Take some time to brainstorm who you are? Literally take a big piece of paper and write down all the things you can do or have done however big or small - go on you might surprise yourself! Start to celebrate that person, you are who you are, you may have a mental health condition but that's not who you are. You are a unique and multifaceted, special person, with skills that you have, that maybe others haven't, and you have a right to be you.

    It was discovering who I am, that is completing my journey of recovery. I say completing because I don't know if I'll ever know fully who I am, but that's the journey we are on, one day it will end, but let us enjoy finding ourselves in the process.

    Self-Harm Rise

    by ...

    ...adapted from an article in Guardian, 27 August 2014

    Growing numbers of people being treated in mental health units are harming themselves and trying to take their own lives, new NHS figures suggest. The number of incidents at 29 of England's 52 NHS mental health trusts rose from 14,815 in 2010 to 23,053 last year, an increase of 56% over 4 years. The average number per trust rose from 511 to 795 last year over the same period. Labour, which obtained the figures under Freedom of information laws, linked the increase to cuts in the number of doctors and nurses working in mental health units and their budgets. 'Mental health services have been squeezed year on year, the number of specialist doctors and nurses has dropped and there aren't enough beds to meet demand. The pressure this is putting on mental health wards is intolerable', said Luciana Berger, the shadow public health minister, who obtained the figures.

    'It is unacceptable that people in touch with mental health services may not be getting the support they need. They are some of the most vulnerable patients in our NHS', she added. That some mental health wards were running way above their recommended maximum capacity of 85%, sometimes reaching as much as 138% was also a factor explaining the rise, Ms Berger added. The biggest increases were at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

    The other 21 of the 50 trusts that Labour approached did not respond, so the true figure for England as a whole might be much higher. Mark Winstanley, Acting Chief Executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said the findings were clear evidence of the marked deterioration of mental health services, because of disproportionate funding cuts imposed over the past two years. 'The hollowing-out of early intervention and cutbacks in community support services are leading to people ending up in inpatient care after becoming more seriously ill because they haven't been helped thoroughly or quickly enough in the first place', he added.

    However, Professor Sir Simon Wesseley, the new president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, did not believe the conclusions put forward by Labour, and said that the increases were seen because of better reporting since Robert Francis's report into the Mid staff Hospital scandal in early 2013. better measure and did not fit with the picture revealed by the 29 trusts' data, Wessely explained. 'The concerns about [lack of] funding are genuine and the concerns about staffing are genuine, but I just don't think we can link that to deliberate self-harm', he said. The NHS figures given to Berger were 'implausible', he added.

    (Editors' note: As you know, to maintain fairness we always try in this newsletter to include both sides of an argument. However, wouldn't it be interesting to know which interpretation of the figures is the correct one?)

    Personal Pursuit

    by Jess

    Hi, my name is Jess. I am based in Broadstairs after recently coming back into the area. In August I started volunteering as an Admin Assistant at Speakup in Margate. I am not a mental health user although I have considered becoming one many times. As a teen, I kept quiet and tried to deal with things in my own way like writing diaries, reading and a period of self-harming. I told a close friend about my struggles at the time. Unfortunately it was like she found the source behind my behaviour and I instantly became someone she no longer knew. I wasn't considered to be that fun person she had known but someone to be pitied. One day I knew I deserved better and I walked away with my head held high and I didn't look back.

    A few years later I attended University and it was my chance at a fresh start. I was having the time of my life with friends and I was enjoying studying. However near the end of my first year I ended up feeling low for what felt like months. I didn't understand it, which just made it even more frustrating. When my thoughts started to scare me I went to see my university counsellor. I felt a sense of release because I had been trapped in my mind for so long. A week later, I broke down in front of a friend and took a leap of faith. This time I was understood and she tried to be there for me She was the type of friend I had always wanted. I gradually learnt to trust people but I realised I was letting her become the key to my happiness. I had expected her to be around and to distract me from what I was feeling and it started not helping me after all.

    I learnt to concentrate on myself and discovering what makes me get up in the morning when the front door is locked, the curtains are shut and I am alone. I know that I love music. It opens my mind to a new world similar to reading. I can walk or close my eyes whilst simply listening to a tune. It gives me clarity, excitement and most importantly hope. I recently started writing a diary again and I like to read what I thought last week and whether I still feel that way today. I also picked up a pencil after a fair few years and started drawing doodles and its fun.

    I hope you know or will go on a journey to find out what really makes you feel content whether it is writing or going to church and that you have done it recently.