I ended the last century in a psychiatric hospital, diagnosed with schizophrenia and with little hope for recovery.
Seen as a ‘revolving door patient’ with a severe and enduring mental illness, I lived my label – not my life. I bought into the idea that schizophrenia (and the many other illnesses I was labelled with) were life-long mental illnesses. I accepted that the best I could hope for was to manage my symptoms with life-long psychiatric medication.
Life, I’m glad to say, doesn’t always turn out the way you think.
Through a combination of luck, the kindness of others and my own, not inconsequential, stubborn streak, I have finally ditched the psychiatric labels and see myself as a survivor. I am a freelance trainer and consultant, a writer, I speak at conferences and am a trustee for the National Hearing Voices Network, Vice Chair of ISPS UK, Chair of Intervoice and an Executive Committee member of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis. From 2007 – 2015 I had the privilege to manage Mind in Camden’s London Hearing Voices & Distressing Beliefs Projects (including Voice Collective youth project and the London Hearing Voices Prisons Project). I’m now training as an Open Dialogue practitioner, and am part of Open Dialogue UK’s clinic and Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust’s new Peer Supported Open Dialogue team.
I no longer take medication, and choose to live with alongside my experiences. To me, they are not symptoms – they are meaningful responses to a life that has thrown many challenges my way.
If you’d have met me 15 years ago, this is a future that you would never have imagined for me.
About This Site
This site includes some of my thoughts and reflections on my ongoing journey, my experiences of working in the mental health field and some of the initiatives that inspire me. If you’re interested in training, consultancy or web design, this site also enables me to showcase a little of what I can offer in terms of services.
Working in the mental health field, and being lucky enough to meet some amazing people along the way, means that my brain cells are brimming with ideas and questions that I would be glad to use to open up a dailogue or debate. I’ve learnt that there is never one way of seeing the world, or making sense of extreme experiences.
Training & Consultancy
I am an experienced trainer with over 12 years of experience in the mental health field. If you’re looking for someone to speak at an event, run a workshop for your organisation or help you think about new ways of working – please see my ‘Services‘ section or email me to discuss your options.
My specialist areas include: psychosis, trauma, dissociation (including DID), self harm, distressing & unusual beliefs, recovery, resilience, mental health in prisons/forensic units and working creatively with young people who hear voices.
If you’d like to attend some of my training, see the Upcoming Training & Events section for details of where I’m at in the next few months.
Thanks for visiting Behind The Label. I’ll be updating it regularly, so do pop back when you get a minute.