Fear of death

The weird thing about depression is that, even though you might have suicidal thoughts, the fear of death is the same

Matt Haig

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Conspiracy theory or reality check

I’ve always been drawn in by the subject of conspiracy theories. I’m not one of those howling-at-the-moon types of course and my mental breakdowns have never yet led me to camp out in the middle of the Nevada desert to seek out just how the US government is working with aliens (a la Robbie Williams). But I do think it’s positive that we have people that question what’s presented to us as truth by government and media. They may not be right and some of them can be pretty wild in their theories but they work quite well as a kind of check on the more questionable events in our crazy world.

So when I heard about the documentary The Anatomy of a Great Deception I had to watch. It’s had limited release and very little exposure so far but as of now you can watch it in its entirety here.

A brief synopsis. The tragedy of 9/11 was not what it appeared to be. Let me expand on that. Specifically that the twin towers and the less-talked about World Trade Center 7 building did not collapse because of the planes. They were demolished by planned explosions that coincided with the planes. And that being the case, who knew about it, who carried out the explosions and why?

Much of the documentary goes into detail about the structure of the buildings and the way in which they collapsed. It debunks the findings of the official report put out t the time by government agency NIST.

Much of what’s presented in the documentary isn’t new. The theory of explosives being detonated has been knocking around since the tragedy itself. Check out ae911truth.org and see for yourself. Disappointingly the 90 minutes leave the “who” and “why” elements of the equation to the end: they’re rather rushed through and we don’t really get much conclusion. Maybe there’ll be a sequel that addresses this.

Naturally I went and googled for a bit to see what else is around to support some of this stuff. There’s a lot. Do I believe what I’m being told? Well, the evidence was presented in the film pretty convincingly. I feel pretty sick at the thought of it being true. I guess I need to research the other side to the argument.


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Do you *really* not get it?

A friend posted a FB status update the other day  – acknowledging a tragic situation. Someone had thrown themselves under a train. A too often occurrence.

“May they find the peace in death they couldn’t find in life,” he wrote.

A kind, understanding and insightful comment I thought.

“I cannot imagine what it must feel like to believe that there is not a scrap of hope. To feel that this was the only door open,” said someone else.


“Always wonder about the desire to involve others in such situations tho..”

Um. Not sure I like where this is headed.

“How desperately tragic . A poor lost soul in a society where we are more connected than ever, allowing us to disconnect with those around us . So sad for all touched by this tragedy.”

Phew. This person gets it though.

What I think I know is that most. If not all people who take their own lives believe annihilation is preferable to living – and that to me is a source of regret and sadness. Like most people, it pisses me off to be over two hours late from work, but when I stop and think about it, think about the person who preferred violent death to living, it kind of makes me feel ashamed about my lack of proportion.” Said the original poster.

Wow. You sooo get it. I think I love you.

“You are far more forgiving than myself. If they want to end it then do it in a more dignified manner such as blades, drugs, drugs and alcohol, gas, rubber hose from exhaust to driver seating area, jump of a bridge. So many ways to end it minus disrupting over people’s lives.”

Ah. This person. Now, you seem to have a lack of understanding me thinks. Bordering on being a bit of a prick*. Hopefully you’re being ironic.

Also comments “…multiple persons that had to endure tonight’s selfish act of killing themselves publicly. Don’t drag us all into your misery.”

Hello? Really? You’re more concerned about the inconvenience now?

In summary: A lot of us get it. Not everyone though. Which means there’s still some educating to do.

*he’s not a complete prick of course, just a bit ignorant about this particular issue,



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The book is best

Well this is novel. Me actually fulfilling a commitment to writing something as promised in my last post. And btw it hasn’t taken me this long to finish The Silver Linings Playbook. I just needed time to consider what it meant to me – honest.

I picked up this book because I saw the film – which I very much enjoyed. I also picked up this book because it deals with mental instabilities. It’s actually the second book on the trot that I have read which has addressed this topic – the previous was Under the Same Stars by Tim Lott. Whereas that story was less about the ongoing battle inside the protagonist’s head – though we learn fairly early on he has suffered depression and continues to take (or not) medication – our hero in Pillowbook (Pat) is in constant mental turmoil about what he knows, what he remembers, the pressure to change his behaviour, holding back on anger and frustration, fear of “the bad place”. And I guess this is why the film just doesn’t cut it. Certainly not in representing the details of Pat’s constant fragility or communicating the various strands of his mental state. Can a film ever do that I wonder. I suspect it probably can, and may well have done in the past – my movie knowledge is not that extensive – but an Oscar destined and money-spinning film is less likely to come close to portraying the reality.
Anyway. I digress. This post is intended to be a book review not a film critique.
So. This is a great read. Told in the first person it gives incredibly moving insight into the mindset of Pat. His everyday train of thought is portrayed honestly – sometimes raw, sometimes comically, often desperately. He strives to be good, caring and a better person so that his dream, his raison d’être can be realised.
We meet him as he is released from a psychiatric facility on the understanding that his previous behaviour and actions (we don’t learn what these were just yet) change. He moves back in with his parents – a loving mum that tries very hard to protect his fragility; a dad who simply doesn’t know how to deal with his own life anymore, let alone Pat’s. Soon the dynamic of Pat’s new life changes when he meets a kindred spirit in the form of Tiffany. She’s been through difficult times that effect her current mental well-being – though these materialise in different ways to Pat’s. They strike up a kind of friendship based initially on a deal of mutual benefit.
I’ll leave my synopsis there. Leave it up to you to read and enjoy. However I wanted to finish with how this book made me feel about my own experiences because I absolutely felt my way through this book – if you get me. I was often moved to tears because it touched something in me that was very personal, something that’s difficult to put into words, something that I know others will have felt. The author, knowingly or not, did something for me that no amount of therapy or even talking with piers hadn’t managed to reach. I can’t explain it and sorry it’s so vague. Please please read the book, even if you have seen the film. Even if you haven’t been to the place (or anywhere near) that Pat talks about because I don’t think that this book can fail to find something in you that you may well not have known before.



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The book after the movie

First things first. I KNOW I used the word “movie” and not “film” in the title of the post. You may argue that I’m British, it’s a British blog and therefore I should use UK English not American English. But can any blog be termed as being of one particular country? And given that most speakers of English are not from the UK then I thought I would take a more international approach – that and the fact that dumb Americans get easily confused. Joking.

This was supposed to be a teeny tiny post. More of a status update, Facebook or Twitter style. But I’ve rambled already. So. Enough of that, and here it is, short and sweet:

“Am reading The Silver Linings Playbook. Seen the movie but the book is, naturally, better. Much more touching and connecting. A proper post will come when I finish it”.

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Do antidepressants work?

Do antidepressants work?

Following on from my last post it seems I’m not the only one with this question in my mind. See the link belowfrom The Guardian as part of a study into the experiences of patients (and doctors) in the use of drugs to fight depression.


Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft antidepressant tablets.

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Pills pills pills

I’ve been prescribed quite a few meds since I first encountered my monkey. Citalopram, sertraline and mirtazipine all fell by the wayside a way back. The first two gave me the shits and mirtazipine, although wonderful at getting me to sleep made me feel too groggy to accomplish anything much the next morning – not a whole lot of good when you need to get two kids up, dressed, fed and out the door. Oh, that and fact that it gave me the most voracious appetite for all the wrong foods late at night – carbs and sugar – which meant I put on a tonne of weight. My faithful informer across at CRAZYMEDS refer to Mirtazipine (Remeron) as the legal version of canabis when it comes to getting the munchies.


1..2..3,4,5…once I took my pills on time

I found a bit more success – or at least it seemed as such – when I went onto a combination of pregabalin (Lyrica) and the nasty venlafaxine (Effexor). I made progress and got discharged from the care of my CMHC. More recently though, after a further relapse, yet another drug has been added into the mix – lamotragine (Lamictal). First described to me as an anti-psychotic, which scared the crap outta me, I then learn it’s also used as a mood stabiliser – seemed well overdue to me to be honest. Anyway. Point is I now feel like a walking chemist (I also take omeprazol to deal with the heartburn caused by one of the other drugs) and honestly I started to wonder ‘what happens if I don’t take these anymore’? Would I feel the same anyway? Are my cyclical depressive episodes just that? In other words are they gonna come and go regardless of whatever concoction I’m on at the time? Or even if I’m on none at all? Seems my psyche is happy to go along with this theory too – either means I’ve been wasting everyone’s time or she’s proving a point or none of these meds are worth the plastic they’re bottled in. Jury’s out right now because we aren’t testing out the theory for a little while yet. Would love to hear from any other lonely souls out there who probably aren’t reading this what their thoughts are on this. Sharing is caring people.

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Summer in February: A beautiful film that lacks honesty

I grew up in Cornwall. I say “grew up” but really I was there only from age two and-a-bit to age ten. Just eight years in fact. Not very long in the grand scheme of things but in terms of childhood, it was Cornwall that shaped me. I will most likely revisit the impact that Cornwall  had on me – and more specifically my family life there – sometime in the future. For now, my mentioning of the fact merely serves to allow me to introduce my ‘review’ of the film, Summer in February, which is set there. Indeed it was the setting that drew me in to seeing the film in the first place – the promise of rugged coastal scenery, the hope of recognising somewhere familiar and of course, allowing myself to dream the dream of one day returning to live there. The actual story was, I’m slightly embarrassed to say, secondary.

Page 566 of the Autumn/Winter 1911 Kay's Catelogue

Summer in February presents Page 566 of the Autumn/Winter 1911 Kay’s Catelogue

The film, adapted by Jonathan Smith from his novel by the same name, and directed by Christopher Menaul, tells the true story of the inter-mingling between some of the main players in the Edwardian artists’ community of Lamorna in the the early part of the twentieth century. It homes in on the relationship between Alfred “A J” Munnings, his close friend Gilbert Evans and his eventual wife, Florence Carter Wood.

I say this is a ‘review’ but in truth I want to focus on one particular aspect of the film – the character of Florence. Fairly early on in the story we learn that she hides within her a deep unhappiness that affects her ability to cope with the desires and sensibilities of AJ. Although the narrative isn’t explicit there are certainly clues to suggest she suffers from manic depression. She attempts to kill herself on her wedding night, taking cyanide, but is thankfully saved. The episode is thus brushed under the carpet, certainly in the film, and I would suspect, given the period in question, also in reality. A brief period in hospital followed by bed-rest and it’s never mentioned again.  Not something to talk about.

One-hundred years later from the period and I tend to think we’ve done very little growing up as a society in our approach to the intended finality of anyone who has, within themselves reached such a point of grief, that they believe the only option is to end their existence. Of course we have charities and carers who are constant in their attempt to de-stigmatise mental illness. And if we choose to listen, they guide us in how we can be better equipped to react to, and interact with and deal with someone who has suffered some kind of severe depression, had cause to harm themselves, or attempted suicide. But despite best effort, best intentions, best belief, often the easiest thing for us to do, is avoid, ignore or gloss over the topic when faced first-hand with the issue.

It takes a little courage for someone to talk about their own experience of mental illness. However, I suspect it may take greater courage for a friend  to recognise and, not necessarily understand but, engage with that someone.

There. Not really a film review at all. So to finish off then I’ll say there was great acting (particularly from Dominic Cooper and Emily Browning) and beautiful cinematography (you couldn’t fail with such a backdrop). And while I of course fully expected to come away sated by my fix of  Cornish scenery, I also experienced the rare chance to relate to one of the characters. However my one major irritation of Mr Menaul’s handling of the story is that he fell short of his duty to present an honest perspective of Carter Wood’s mental turmoil, choosing only to sensationalise and effectively isolate the depths of her anguish. 

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Hey, I’m Andy and I have…

Not quite sure of the point raised here by Ruby Wax in her article in The Guardian newspaper. The pessimist in me says ‘book promotion’ but then the narrative suggests a selflessness about the work Ruby has done. Click on the link and come back to me.















Would I use such a forum? I’d like to think I would. But then mental health issues span such a wide spectrum that any gathering would perhaps lose it’s purpose through lack of commonality between attendees – yes we’d all have a ‘mental illness’ label about our person but the person sitting to my right may be schizophrenic and the person to my left may have some kind of psychosis. And there’s little ole me in the middle with my depression and anxiety issues.

Personally I’m growing not to like the whole 1-in-4 statistic because although the aim of that was to create awareness of mental health issues and to de-stigmatise, I’m a little suspicious of how that statistic came about and what it represents. It’s also used too much.
Ok. Nuff said

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Hitting it home

I went to see the stage adaptation of To Kill a Mocking Bird this week. Thoroughly recommend it. Anyway there was, for me, a very poignant line at the end of the first half. The girl, Scout, was asking her older brother how old both she and he were when their mother died: he was 6 and she was 2.

Same age as my two are now.

I shed a tear at that point and tried very hard to promise something to myself.

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