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, a practitioner, a researcher, speaker and PhD student at the Open University. I am Chair for the English National Hearing Voices Network, Vice Chair of ISPS UK and an Executive Committee member of the UK chapter 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’ve trained an Open Dialogue practitioner and have worked in Open Dialogue UK’s clinic and Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust’s new Peer Supported Open Dialogue team. I’m now using these experiences to work alongside Iseult Twamley (and others) as an Open Dialogue trainer.I choose to live alongside my experiences, rather than suppress them with large doses of medication. To me, they are not symptoms - they are meaningful responses to a life that has thrown many challenges my way.Click To Tweet
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 dialogue 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 15 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.