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"Invisible Me" (Or - The Best Book On Experience Of Mental Health Issues I Have Ever Read)
4/27/2017 6:58:52 PM
It was the quotes which caught my attention and got me intrigued.  After all, there are only so many sweets, pens, keyrings, stress=-balls, bags, leaflets, cards with tiny writing on them, etc, that one person can usefully collect and use in one lifetime – never mind the amount of branded junk you can pick up at events where companies attempt to grab your attention and stick in your mind – ready for when you find yourself in dire need of the service which is provided by the Company whose pen has somehow managed to roll behind your radiator, rendering their contact details useless forever more.

However, it wasn't just the fact that there was a display which was actually easy for me to read (the quotes were at the front of the table in a clear font) which caught my attention.  What really grabbed me about them was that – under slightly different circumstances – they could all have been about me.  As in - Every Single One Of Them.

The table I was standing in front of also had copies of a book on it.  The book (“The Invisible Child – A Secret Life”, by Samantha Houghton) was being launched at the Choice UnLimited Roadshow yesterday.  I had intended to go to Samantha's talk where she launched the book, but I didn't make it in the end.  Instead – it turned out that I had the pleasure of meeting both Samantha and her Mum (Maureen) at their stall and getting a bit of the background to the book itself from the two delightful ladies themselves.  I decided to give Maureen a namecheck in this review because – as she herself said – she lived through the situation with Samantha as she went through it (with all the self-blame, etc, that would entail).  I am not exaggerating when I say that both ladies are extremely inspirational people – they are also very gentle even though they have both had to become very tough.

The book is about Samantha's battle with Mental Health issues from childhood through adolescence, into adulthood, and how she sought help (not to mention how she felt ignored and judged by many of the Professional Carers who were supposed to be the ones trying to help her).

Her style of writing reminds me of both Cathy Glass and Tory Hayden – yet more relaxed and less likely to blind you with science when she gets to the “Scientific” bits.

In fact, I read the book from cover to cover when I was on the bus from Leicester to my Dad's house.  I ended up feeling as though I had gone through every experience with Samantha just through reading the book.  That – to me at least – is the sign of a brilliant author or blogger.  Take your readers on your journey with you – keeping it simple and jargon-free.

I must admit to being pleasantly surprised about something else regarding the book.  I did my usual trick of reading a snippet of it before I bought it.  This wasn't to make sure I would find it interesting (Samantha and Maureen had both “sold” the book to me before I bought it) – instead it was to check the font size.  After all, there is no point buying a book (no matter how interesting the subject is) if the font is so small you need a microscope to read it, or you need to chain-eat paracetamol or aspirin, to counter the ensuing headache from trying to read it.

Apart from the “Acknowledgements” page (who reads that anyway?) the main bit of the book was not only large enough for me to read comfortably - I even think it would be easy for people who read what are officially deemed “Large Print” books to read without any difficulties.

I would seriously love it if Samantha went to “Mainstream” Publishers and showed them her book as an example of how to publish a book in such a way that everybody can enjoy the pleasure of reading without having to select books based not only on topic but on font-size too.

In case you missed it – my recommendation is that you buy this book.  It doesn't matter if you have experience of Mental Health issues or any other Disability or impairment – I can guarantee you will find something useful in it.  Even if it is just about how to really listen to people and pay attention to them (as well as the potential consequences if you don't).

Shout - Let It All Out (Or - Blessed Are The Change-Makers)
4/20/2017 2:10:34 AM

Tears For Fears released a single called “Shout” way back in the 1980's (I think). The chorus came into my head as I was thinking about writing this blogpost - “Shout! Shout! Let it all out. These are the things I could do without. Come on – I'm talking to you. Come on.”

Before you think that this is going to be yet another rant about Politics or the current state of the world – well, it is and it isn't.

We all have our own opinions about the current state of the world and the people who appear to think they are in charge of it. However, what would happen if we put the real Politicians in charge???

You might be looking at the above paragraph and thinking, “Ineke has finally lost the plot completely – the real Politicians are the ones who are in Councils up and down the land, as well as Westminster. What does she mean by 'put real Politicians in charge'?”

Let's just say that my opinion of the current Political Establishment can be summed up by re-arranging the following words into a well-known phrase or sentence - “Idiots” “Are” Self-serving” “Politicians”.

So – who do I consider to be the “real Politicians”???

Anybody and everybody who has acted in such a way that they have attempted to improve the lives of the people they come across – in whatever way they choose. Also, people who have used their personal experiences to educate people about a side of life they might not otherwise realise exists. Let's not forget those people who have stood up for what they believe in – be it by putting their job at risk through blowing the whistle on corrupt practices, or by joining a protest for a cause they believe in (be it setting up camps in a city centre to highlight the treatment of homeless people, or by helping in another way).

I have a list of people who I consider to be the “real Politicians” (the fact that two of them have actually been what is commonly known as Politicians – Councillors – is something I can forgive them for). With your permission I would like to name some of them (yes – some of the names have appeared elsewhere on my blog for other reasons but some names will be new to you).

James Patrick – ex-Metropolitan Police Officer – now attempts to educate people about all sorts of issues relating to the Politics of the world. Also an author.

James McLean – If you live in Leicester you will definitely have heard about this man. He is passionate about the Homeless (he has been Homeless himself). He has a habit of setting up camps in and around Leicester City Centre. He is also the brains behind the Homeless Party.

Derek Lee – a Clinical Psychologist who claims to be retired. Last heard of running the Brighton Marathon to raise money for the charity “Mind” to help fund facilities for Mental Health provision (see what I mean about him claiming to be retired??? I am not entirely convinced that Psychologists ever retire).

Roger Nield – retired Police Officer who now plays a role in a scheme down in Surrey for Military Veterans.

Wayne Naylor – ex-Leicester City Councillor who has a very big heart for the community with particular focus on those people who are on the outskirts of society.

Nathan Constable, Mike Pannett, Constable Chaos, Police Commander John Sutherland, Sgt Harry Tangye – all connected with the Police Service (one theoretically retired) – This little lot (plus a few dozen more I could mention) all use Social Media, blogs, and their own appearances on TV, to educate people about the real stories behind the headlines regarding Policing.

John Coster and Laura Horton – Well, what can I say about these two??? Both of them have a big heart for Disabled people (well they do both work for LCiL). John is also responsible for a concept called “Social Media Cafe” where groups of people can get together and learn from each other. Laura plays a big part behind the scenes in an event called “Choice UnLimited” - which is a kind of Marketplace type roadshow where Disabled people, Carers, etc, can speak to providers of goods and services face to face in a non-threatening environment.

The gang at The Real Junkfood Project (Leicester Battalion) – Not only does this group of people cook meals from food that is perfectly edible which shops throw away – they also are one of the friendliest bunches of people I have ever had the pleasure of being involved with. They volunteer their time willingly to – as the slogan on the tshirt I am currently wearing says - “Feed Bellies - Not Bins”. There are other Junkfood Projects all over the UK.

Julian Harrison – This man divides his time between his Mental Health work and his work for the Holocaust Memorial Trust. If you get a chance to hear him talk about either subject you will come away feeling educated without feeling like you have been lectured. He has personal experience of Mental Health issues and the discrimination faced by Jewish people.

You may think there is someone missing from that list – as in the human typing this blogpost???

There is one very good reason why my name is nowhere near that list – I do not consider myself to be remotely Political. Yes – I try to educate people about the challenges I (and others) face through my blog. Yes – I have been known to volunteer for both LCiL and The Real Junkfood Project. Yes – I do work with Roger Nield. Yes – I do support the various causes and organisations mentioned in this blogpost. And – yes – some of my blogposts do end up with a Political twist to them. But – to me – being Political is a whole different ballgame involving more noise than I am willing to make. I am the one who is usually found behind a computer keyboard – although I will speak up in person if the issues being discussed are ones I have personal experience of (for example – the “Purple Pound” Discussion Panel) - or if I think the topic is one I can usefully speak out about (just try to tell me that the Police are there to be abused, or they shouldn't eat or drink – let alone carry a firearm in public – and see what I have to say about that. I consider the Twittercops I follow to be friends of mine).

I want to finish with sharing things which two Wise Owls said to me (on separate occasions – some years apart). The Wise Owls will know who they are.

The first one said, “You will never know what it is like to be a 50 year old man”. (Well, I was a 30 year old female at the time.) That one taught me that we all have different experiences of life. However, the Wise Owl also taught me (later on) that we can use our differing experiences to help each other.

The second one said something which actually keeps me blogging even when I feel I have nothing important or Earth-shattering to say. “It is all very well signing an online petition but that only takes 5 seconds and then it is forgotten about. It takes hard work to make a real change in the world and your blogging is an important part of that.” The Wise Owl is still one of my biggest supporters when it comes to blogging.

I have a challenge for you – find something you are passionate about and start trying to make a small difference to that situation. It can be Mental Health, Homelessness, Lousy designs for objects you use regularly, etc. You can write letters to your local paper, start a blog about it, become an activist (or a “Highlighter” if you prefer), or just speak about it, or volunteer with an organisation which is dedicated to that particular cause. You could even run a Marathon.

Why The Most Dangerous Tool We Have Can Be The Alphabet (Or - Words Can Be Open To Misinterpretation In Both Good And Bad Ways)
4/6/2017 5:29:13 PM

Here is a question for you – What have “What If” (by Randall Munroe), “Spellbinder” (by Stephen Bowkett), a book on flags, any of a list of books on words and grammar, the song “Another Brick In The Wall” (by Pink Floyd), any Religious text you care to mention, a YouTube video of clips of “Still Game”, blogs by (among others) Dr Derek Lee, Nathan Constable, John Sutherland, Michael Brown (aka “Mental Health Cop”), James Patrick, all got in common? Apart from the fact that they all contain words, that is.

The answer is they have all – in one way or another – inspired this blog post.

To be completely honest it was “What If”, and “Spellbinder” that initially got the spark flickering to life. The first one because it is a book I find fascinating – and somewhat scary. (Put it this way – if you have ever wondered what would happen if you tried to build a wall using all the Chemical Elements from that table you see in Science textbooks as building blocks – that is the book you really want to read. A clue – you and your surroundings would not last very long at all.) The second book ignited the spark because I always wonder what would happen if we allowed ourselves to believe that Fiction can be made real. (One of my biggest fantasies is to be able to walk around inside other people's minds at will. That idea has become more and more relevant as I get older and I have found myself having to work out other people's motives for things they said or did.)

OK – so now you are probably wondering whether or not you should carry on reading this blog post??? After all, I may suddenly start writing something which you may find offensive, may give you ideas on how to launch any kind of attack on someone, or may cause you to break any number of Laws in the territory you happen to find yourself in as you read this!

Or – I could just be sitting here innocently typing this blog post only to turn on the news in a few days time to find that you have somehow taken my words as some kind of codeword which triggers you to wreak havoc on the entire universe as we know it.

What I am trying to say is that words are open to misinterpretation which can lead to serious consequences. I have stated elsewhere in another blog post that I do not like the phrase “Religious Extremist” when applied to Terrorists – mainly because I know quite a few people who I would classify as “Religious Extremists” who (to my knowledge at least) haven't used their Religious beliefs as an excuse for killing anyone. In fact, the opposite is the case.

Everything we say or write has an equal and an opposite definition. When speaking we can use our tone of voice to indicate what we mean (in fact, before I could understand a word of Dutch I could tell you exactly what mood a Dutch speaker is in just through listening to how they spoke). However, things can become a little harder to work out when we are writing (or – more to the point – reading).

We need to learn how to separate fact from fiction as we watch the news or read the Mainstream Media's output.

Most of all, we need to learn to be a little bit slower to start blaming other people when we misread or mishear something and act on our interpretation of it.

Two things come to mind as I am typing this (these might go some way to explain what I am trying to say).

The first is my second favourite scene from “Still Game”;

Jack and Victor are sitting at the bar in The Clansman when Boaby (the barman) asks them what they want. They order two beers and two pies. Jack turns to Victor and says, “Can you pay for these? As I am saving my change to tip the Concierge in the lavatory when he offers me a range of expensive colognes from around the world.” The look on Boaby's face is priceless.

The second thing which comes to mind is something which just tickles my sense of humour every time I hear the announcement for it in the Church I attend – so much so that I have a very difficult job trying to stop myself from singing the lyrics immediately before the chorus. To cut a long story short we have a part of the service where part of “Another Brick In The Wall” is played as small change is put into a container and used to raise a brick on the other end of a seesaw type contraption (this is an attempt to raise money for the redevelopment of our Church buildings). I am so tempted to sing (and slightly misquote) the lyrics “We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone”.

My vivid imagination – combined with my weird - and sometimes literal – sense of humour can be both a blessing and a curse at times.

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