Mental Health Research

All links were live and accessible on the publication date of this post.

I have been reading books and doing lots of online research on mental health. Either written by people who have suffered from mental illness or on the subject of.

All have been fascinating. For a start I have read three books by Carrie Fisher (yes, Princess Leia) – who is the ‘poster girl’ for Bi-polar and sharp, dry and witty to boot. Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic are more memoir-y – she is writing her memories down before the ECT she has wipes them all forever – but Postcards from the Edge offers some quite interesting insights into mental health, and even drug dependency, in a light way that was enough to get me into the subject and thinking more deeply.

On top of this there was an excellent Sky Arts programme from the 2012 Hay Sessions where Stephen Fry interviewed Kay Redfield Jamison to discuss her work on bipolarity. And Channel 4 had a ‘Mad’ season where Ruby Wax (the UK’s depression ‘poster girl’) looked into her own journey with depression “Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions” and the “World’s Maddest Job Interview” which aims to challenge employers and the public’s perception of suffering from poor mental health.

I am reading “Touched with Fire: Manic-depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament” by Kay Redfield Jamison (as mentioned above) as I have long believed that there is a strong link between creatives (of all types) and depression/mental illness.

I am only 9% into the book and already it is inspiring me and flooding me with ideas. This is mostly because it contains quotes and text from many literary greats (so far) about their own experiences of bipolar. Now, I’m not bipolar – just depressive – but the mania part of the illness seems just as bad as the depressed part, but can also lead to periods of extended (and exhausting) work periods for many creatives, who often feel ‘lost’ if it is medicated to make them ‘better’. Reading the descriptions they provide – and the fact that depression can often lead to preoccupation with religious themes (sin etc.) – has made me intrigued by the drawings and paintings of William Blake. His paintings on Dante’s Inferno in particular – despite them being of hellish themes – have often reminded me of madness. The crazed eyes of many of the subject probably cause this, as well as the confused lines and objects and the claustrophobic, oppressive feel of the whole.

I would like to look at translating some of the text I am finding in Jamison’s book into pieces. Probably by drawing with the sewing machine – there is something demented about the frenetic stitches caused by the machine when it is slightly out of control that add to the desired feeling in a way that you just can’t do with paper and pen. Loose threads that are unpredictable and can move and change shape are perfect at conveying the uncertainty of trusting your own mind.

The BBC News website also had an excellent article about the links between mental health and creativity – which is quoted below the Channel 4 one below.

Channel 4 also have some excellent text attached to the Job Interview programme (above) under their Mad World section – which I am including in full here, lest the pages disappear in the future.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/worlds-maddest-job-interview/articles/mad-world-text-version

Mad World Text Version

Ever wondered what it’s like to hear voices? Or maybe you reckon you’re just ‘a little bit OCD’? Mad World explores three of the most misunderstood mental health conditions: schizophrenia, OCD and bipolar disorder.

Mad World
Population: 1.75 Billion

Schizophrenia

Over a lifetime, just under 1 in 100 of us will experience schizophrenia.
(Thats the ‘lifetime prevalence rate’ – the number of people who experience schizophrenia at some point in their lives.)

Over the course of a year, 5 in every 1000 people will experience schizophrenia.

Can you imagine not being able to tell the ‘real world’ from your own thoughts and perceptions?

Schizophrenia: try a new brain for size

There is no standard experience of schizophrenia, but symptoms that doctors will look for to make a diagnosis can include any of the changes in behaviour below.

‘Hi, I’m Sandeep. This is my experience of schizophrenia.’

Click here to take a trip inside Sandeep’s brain.

Hallucinations
(like hearing voices)
Sometimes the voices you hear can seem friendly, but more often they are critical, abusive or frightening.

Disordered Thoughts
(confused and jumbled thinking)
Thoughts may seem hazy, disorganised and unpredictable. You may feel your thoughts are disappearing and find it really difficult to communicate with other people.
Delusions
(strongly held false beliefs, paranoia)
Often these are unusual or extreme – you may believe you’re being followed, watched or plotted against by the people around you.

Like other mental health problems, schizophrenia is an episodic condition – people will be well or unwell at different points in their lives.

Other symptoms that are usually present in schizophrenia include&

Speech Problems
Jumbled thoughts can lead to confused speech – making conversation hard for other people to understand.

Losing Motivation You may lose interest in life and relationships, not want to leave the house, and find it difficult to concentrate or communicate.

Unpredictable Behaviour
All of these symptoms can lead to behaviour other people may find strange, such as becoming agitated easily, shouting or swearing for no reason.

Schizophrenia: open your mind

Schizophrenia is probably the most misunderstood mental health condition, but you almost certainly know someone who will be affected by it in their lifetime.

Let’s put the stats in context. In the UK population&

1.5% are wheelchair users
3% are twins
1-2% have green eyes
1% have a PhD
1% will experience schizophrenia (lifetime prevalence)

You probably know one of these guys.
Still think you don’t know anyone with schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia: it gets better

With the right treatment and support, most people who experience schizophrenia are able to improve and manage their symptoms. It’s a lifelong condition, but it’s not a life sentence.

For every five people with schizophrenia:

One will get better within five years of their first symptoms
Three will get better, but will have time when they get worse
On will have troublesome symptoms for long periods of time

Adding support from family and friends to medication can cut schizophrenia relapse rates in half.

There is no standard experience of schizophrenia. Each person will have a different set of symptoms, and a unique account of their condition.

Talking to your friends, family or colleagues about your mental health problem can be a big step in the recovery process and offering support to a friend makes a huge difference.

Click here to read Sandeep’s story.

OCD
(Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

Just over 1 in 100 of us have OCD at any one time.

And some studies suggest that 3 in 100 of us will experience obsessive-compulsive disorder at some point in our lives.

Maybe you think you’re ‘a little bit OCD.’, but its not just about keeping your sock drawer ordered by colour… What if your obsessions and compulsions ruled your every waking moment?

OCD: Try a new brain for size

OCD has two main features: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessive thoughts and urges can often be overwhelming and frightening. Here are a few common examples…

‘Hi, I’m Julia. I have OCD.’

Click here to take a trip inside Julia’s brain.

Obsessions

Intrusive sexual impulses
e.g. such as worrying that you will expose yourself at work

Fearing contamination
e.g. from dirt and germs in a toilet

Imagining doing harm
e.g. imagining you’re going to push someone in front of a train

Compulsions

Compulsions are repetitive actions or rituals that people feel compelled to do in order to relieve anxiety or stop obsessive thoughts.

Ordering or Arranging
e.g. keeping food organised by colour in the fridge

Washing
e.g. washing your hands six times with soap and six times without every time you wash your hands

Repeating actions
e.g. touching every light switch in the house five times before you go out

OCD: open your mind

Minor obsessions and compulsions are common. But if youre diagnosed with OCD, it’s usually when unwanted thoughts or actions start to disrupt your life.

There’s more to OCD than liking things neat and tidy. At its worst, being stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of obsessions that lead to compulsions can take over your life.

OCD is sometimes associated with above-average intelligence (as the nature of the condition involves complex thinking patterns).

Some people historians believe these guys had OCD:
Dr. Samuel Johnson, Beethoven and Charles Darwin

The average age for the onset of OCD symptoms is 19.

Both men and women are equally affected by OCD although, in children, OCD seems to be more prevalent in boys.

OCD: it gets better

While there’s no instant cure, there are plenty of different treatment options and self-help strategies available if you feel OCD is having a negative impact on your life.

After the age of 40, OCD usually fades away.
It’s rare over 50 (about 3 in 1000 people over 55).

For some people, it is possible to achieve complete recovery from OCD. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for OCD. It’s a form of talking therapy that focuses on connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Every person with OCD will experience a different set of symptoms and have their own story to tell.

Talking to your friends, family or colleagues about your mental health problem can be a big step in the recovery process and offering support to a friend makes a huge difference.

Click here to read Julia’s story.

Bipolar Disorder
(Formerly known as Manic Depression)

About 1 in 100 of us experience bipolar disorder in the course of a lifetime. But in any year, hospital admissions will be much higher than 1 in 100, due to the recurrent nature of bipolar disorder.

How much do you know about the reality of the highs and the lows?

Bipolar: try a new brain for sizeE

Bipolar disorder is characterised by swings in mood: from times of extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). In between these can be periods of stability.

‘Hi, I’m Tom. I have bipolar disorder.’

Click here to take a trip inside Tom’s brain.

Manic Episodes

Feeling ‘high’
(overly happy, outgoing or elated)
Mania often causes an abnormally euphoric mood with increased energy and activity.

High-risk behaviour
(like impulsive sex or spending sprees)
Rash decisions and risky adventures – often with disastrous consequences.

Unrealistic beliefs
(grandiose thoughts, distorted judgement)
You might have grand ideas of your own self-importance, and be full of outlandish plans.

Depressive Episodes

While the manic phase of bipolar is often a time of high energy and over-excitement, the low episodes of deep depression can be just as extreme.

Feeling hopeless
(sad, lethargic, despondent)
You might feel empty, pessimistic or worried. Feelings of guilt or despair can seem overwhelming.

Losing interest in activities
(like sex)
You could lose interest in the kind of activities you used to find pleasurable.

Self-doubt
(like feeling worthless)
You might experience a major drop in confidence and self-esteem.

Bipolar: open your mind

There are two main types of bipolar disorder – Bipolar I and Bipolar II – as well as some less common variations of the disorder.

The four most common types of bipolar disorder:

Bipolar I
The classic form. Recurrent episodes of mania and depression, mainly characterised by manic episodes.

Bipolar II
Longer periods of depression, with less disruptive symptoms of mania.

Rapid cycling
Rapid fluctuations between mania and depression, with little or no stable periods.

Cyclothymia
Frequent short periods of less severe mania and depression, separated by periods of stability.

The connection between bipolar and the arts is often discussed. Some people experience an increase in creativity and productivity during the manic phase of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar symptoms are often first experienced by people in their teens and early twenties.

A study has found that teenagers who excelled at school were four times more likely to develop bipolar disorder – particularly if they excelled in music or literature.

It’s often described as an ‘occupational hazard’ for celebrities, with famous faces of the disorder including Jean Claude Van Damme, Vincent Van Gogh and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Bipolar: it gets better

Bipolar disorder is not necessarily a chronic condition – there is a growing recovery movement among survivors. Seeking help and support in managing your symptoms can be an important first step.

[On Average:] Some research claims people with bipolar wait four-and-a-half years before seeking help.

[On Average:] People are misdiagnosed an average of three times before they discover they have bipolar disorder.

[On Average:] It takes 10.5 years for a correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

So, the average person with bipolar disorder spends 15 years without proper treatment or support.

Every person with bipolar disorder will experience a different set of manic and depressive symptoms, and respond to different treatments.

Talking to your friends, family or colleagues about your mental health problem can be a big step in the recovery process and offering support to a friend makes a huge difference.

Click here to read Tom’s story.

On Bipolar http://www.channel4.com/programmes/worlds-maddest-job-interview/articles/mad-world-text-version-bipolar

Mad World Text Version: Bipolar

This is a text version of the binaural audio experience in Mad World

You are in a car, the engine humming rhythmically. The window must be down because you can hear the sounds of a highway – cars whizzing past, the rush of wind.

You hear a man’s thoughts, your thoughts, rapidly flowing – he’s excited, wired.

You think: This is it. Today. This is it. Why didn’t I think of this before? I wonder if I should go faster, they’ll all get out of my way anyway. They can feel me. I know they can. God, look at the sky. Does anyone actually even look at the sky? Blue, blue, blue. I dont think I’ve ever looked at it properly before. Maybe I should pull over and walk the rest of the way. Take my shoes off, feel the earth under my feet. That’s what it’s supposed to be like. Everybody’s forgotten, but that’s it, isn’t it – earth, mud. Yes. Wow, look at the sky.

You suddenly notice that your mobile is ringing in your pocket – you fumble around and take it out, holding it up to your ear (the car swerves slightly).

‘Hello?’
‘Tom?’
‘Hey Louise, Lou-lou, how are you?’
‘Tom – where the hell are you? I’ve just had your boss on the phone – he says he’s been trying to reach you all morning. Why aren’t you at work?’ ‘Lou, it’s ok. It’s ok. I don’t need to go to work – I mean, you don’t need to either. I’ve had – what do you call it? I’ve had an epiphany. That’s it. Isn’t that a brilliant word? E-iph-any. Sounds like music.’

You think: I need some music. I should put the radio on.

‘Do you want to hear some music Lou?’
‘Are you driving?’
‘Yes – the open road Lou, the road to nowhere, on the road again!’

You think: ‘I wonder if I’ll see a hitchhiker. Maybe I should get out and hitchhike – I could meet anyone.’

‘You shouldn’t use your phone, you idiot. Put me on speaker at least.’
‘Ok ok ok, wait a minute.’

The car swerves a bit more. You press a couple of buttons and put the phone down beside you.

‘Hello? Lou?’
‘I’m here. Tom, why the hell are you driving? Whose car is it?’
‘It’s a surprise – it’s mine, ours I mean. Surprise! Wait till you see it Lou, it’s a beaut – best in the showroom. Nought to sixty in – um, I don’t remember. But it’s fast! You’ll love it. Wait till you see.’

You think: You know, I think the car’s part of me, really. I put my foot down, it speeds up, if I concentrate I bet I can do it without putting my foot down. I know I can.

‘Oh God, Tom. We can’t afford this, you know we can’t. I can’t believe this. You need to come home now – you’re really starting to scare me. Where were you last night? Did you even sleep?’
‘Lou Lou Lou, I’m fine – I’m fine. I feel amazing. It’s all amazing, Lou. I want you to feel this too. You need to stop worrying about everything. Have you seen the sky? I want you to go outside and look up right now, Lou – I mean really look. It’s incredible, you just have to let yourself see it. It’s really something.
‘Tom. Tom, listen to me. I want you to come home now – where do you think youre going anyway?’
‘Anywhere, Lou. The world! Why are we all sitting behind desks everyday Lou, do you ever ask yourself that? We dont even look up – we don’t even look out the bloody window. There’s so much to see out there, you just have to go. Just go. Dont you see?’

You think: Go, go, go. I wonder how fast it can really go?

‘Tom, you’re seriously scaring me. I don’t think you should be driving like this, please – listen to me.’
‘It’s all going to be ok. If something’s meant to happen, it will happen. I’m meant to do this, Louise. I just need to keep going. I need to hang up now, I need to concentrate. Bye Lou!’
‘Tom – wait!’

You hang up and turn the radio on – fiddling until you get to a channel you want.

‘You think: Poor Lou, she doesn’t understand. She just doesn’t understand what I really am. What I can really do. You know, I actually think, no, I know it – I can make those lights up ahead turn green – I know I can. I just need to concentrate. Concentrate… Concentrate… Yes! Yes, I knew it. I knew it.

The car speeds up – the wind whistles in your ears.

Tom’s Story – Bipolar disorder

This is a text version of Tom’s story in Mad World.

It actually took me a really long time to get a bipolar diagnosis – I think because, to be honest, I didn’t think I needed any help – not when I was manic anyway. When you are manic why would you go to the doctor’s when you feel absolutely incredible and youre just flying? A manic episode for me would start with hypomania, and for me, that always just feels really good. I would just be so full of energy and just wanting to do everything – I’d be going out every night, my mates couldn’t keep up. You just have so many thoughts whizzing around your head, you don’t want to sleep, or you can’t sleep. I’d stay up for three, four nights easily.

When I first started having manic episodes I was working in a job I really loved, in the media. And it’s really high energy anyway – you have to be ‘on’ all the time. And that suited me when I was manic – and I think people are sort of drawn to you more when youre like that, for a while anyway, they think you’re having lots of fun, they think that’s who you are. You know, I’d walk down the street and start talking to everyone I met, I’d walk into bars and be buying everyone drinks. But it’s not really your normal self.

When you get into full-blown mania, it feels good at first. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve had times when I just felt almost like I had special powers, or that I was ‘chosen’, or invincible. I thought I could do anything. And at that point it’s like hypomania, but amped up a bit more, but then you get to the point where you’re so amped up that you just get incredibly agitated and panicked. And you start doing stupid things – for me it was buying ridiculous stuff, taking all kinds of drugs, just being out of control really. And you have so many thoughts racing around your head and you just want it all to stop. It crosses over into this totally different experience.

The depression side, for me, is the complete opposite. It’s just like life has no colour – and I’m just completely drained and hopeless. Literally hopeless, you can’t see anything getting better. I’s actually the depression that made me go and see a doctor in the end. These days I’m on anti-depressants and a mood stabilizer, and it’s really helped keep me more stable. It’s genuinely changed my life.

On OCD (and we’re all a little bit OCD aren’t we?) http://www.channel4.com/programmes/worlds-maddest-job-interview/articles/mad-world-text-version-ocd

In fact, comedian John Richardson did an excellent investigation to his own OCD (is he/isn’t he?) as part of the Mad World series, but there is no further information available on it – John Richardson: A Little Bit OCD.

Mad World Text Version: OCD

This is a text version of the OCD binaural audio experience in Mad World

You’re in the bathroom of a restaurant. A couple of women are chatting next to you – ‘can I borrow your lip balm?’ etc – The sound of water in a sink. Faint scrubbing. You are short of breath. You turn the tap off and try to breath deeply. You think to yourself: ‘You can do this. You look fine You’re clean. Hair, teeth, nails. Hair, teeth, nails. All ok. Hair, teeth, nails.”

Your mobile phone rings in your pocket, you take it out and answer.
‘Hi, Helen.’
‘Julia, I’ve got seven missed calls from you -‘
‘7’ – you think – ‘1 2 3 4 5 6 7’,
‘- what’s wrong?’
‘Nothing, sorry, I was just wondering if you could check I locked the front door – are you in the flat?’
‘I should have checked again. Check one, check two, check three. 1 2 3.’
‘It’s fine, it’s locked.’
‘Can you check?’
‘If Helen gets attacked in the flat it’s my fault. What if Helen dies. Don’t let Helen die, one. Don’t let Helen die, two. Don’t let Helen die, three’.
‘Ok, ok, I’ll check. Aren’t you supposed to be on that date?’
‘I am, I’m here.’
“Well, what”s he like?”
‘He’s nice – he’s really nice. I’m just trying not to freak out.’
‘You’ll be fine. You’re amazing, just have fun.’
‘Right. Fun.’
‘Call me afterwards; bye Jules!’

You turn the tap on again and start to quickly wash your hands. ‘Don’t think about the germs, don’t think about what’s contaminated. Don’t think, don”t think.’

You take a paper towel to dry your hands, breathe out, and walk out of the bathroom doors into the restaurant. You’re greeted by the sounds of a fairly classy bistro – people murmuring, laughing, waiters pouring drinks, cutlery and glasses tinkling, a piano playing softly in one corner. You walk to your table and sit down.

‘Hey, I’m so sorry I took so long – my sister called me in the bathroom.’
Your date is warm and friendly: ‘Don’t worry, I kept myself busy ordering martinis – I was feeling all James Bond. Here they come!’
“1 2 3 4 5, 17, 17 words. Oh God, what’s in a martini again?’
A waiter sashays over. ‘Two dirty martinis, for madam’ – he places a glass next to you – ‘and for sir.’
‘Wow, they look amazing – thank you.’
‘You’re welcome, sir. Your starter is on its way. Enjoy.’
Your thoughts race as your date is speaking: ‘Dirty, dirty. No. Look at the glass, is that fingerprints? No straw. Do they sterilize them? Maybe they don’t. Shouldn’t the waiter be wearing gloves? What makes it a dirty martini? I can’t drink it, I can’t I can’t I can’t.’
Your date picks up his glass. ‘Cheers!’
You take a deep breath and try to sound cheerful. ‘Cheers!’
*clink*
‘Cheers, 1. Clink, 1. I can’t drink this, can’t drink it. No straw. The glass will cut me, it’ll hit my teeth. Come on, try a sip. He’ll think you’re weird if you don’t try it. One sip. One one one.”
You take a sip and force a smile. ‘Wow, that’s strong.’
He laughs, ‘This is probably when I should do my word-famous Sean Connery impression, but, you know, I wouldn’t want to peak too soon.’
‘1 2 3 4 5 – 8 – 17 – 23’ (you’re counting each word he says.)
You laugh too, you’re managing to sound much more relaxed than you feel.
‘World famous? Go on, you can’t just leave that hanging there.’

Your date continues to be charming and chatty as your thoughts race, layered over your conversation with him. Outwardly you seem remarkably breezy, but inside:

‘Why did I order salad? It’ll all be mixed up together. Oh God, he’ll see me rearranging everything. What if there are greens and reds together? No reds, no reds. What if a waiter hasn’t washed his hands and he picks up my plate and it’s contaminated? Why did I agree to come to a restaurant? Is that someone coughing? I feel sick, what if I am sick already, what if I get sick and I make Helen sick? What if he wants to kiss me later? What if he wants to have sex?’

The waiter is back: ‘Your starters – Greek salad for madam, and spare ribs for sir. Can I get you anything else?
‘Oh God, green and red.’
Your date answers: ‘Amazing, thanks. Just one thing, could you swap my water glass – it’s a bit dirty on the rim.’
‘1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 14 18.’
‘Of course sir, very sorry about that. Just one moment.’ Glasses clink.
‘No problem!’ Your date turns back to you. ‘Sorry, I’m just a little bit OCD about things like that.’

You laugh.

Julia’s Story – OCD

My first memory of anything OCD in my life was probably things like not stepping on the cracks in the pavement when I was walking to school – and I was like, really scared about this – it would drive my mum up the wall, I’d just take so long to walk down the road! [laughs]

I’ve always been a bit of a neat freak, my teenage bedroom was definitely not typical – it was the tidiest room in the house! But I think it was when I was a teenager that I started being a bit obsessed with germs – especially around food. I got to the point where I was using disposable paper plates for every meal, and I’d never drink anything without a straw. I couldn’t go out to eat in restaurants, or if I did it was a nightmare – every time someone coughed I’d freak out. I started having all these rituals around eating – I suppose it was to make me feel like I had more control over it. I always had to eat from left to right – and I still do, actually. And I couldn’t deal with food touching – like peas next to potatoes, if something was touching I’d have to eat it really quickly, straightaway, just to get it off my plate.

It might not sound like much, but it does start to become all you can think about – you start to get anxious about everything. I would have to check I’d locked the door again and again after I’d left the house – I just wouldn’t trust my memory. I mean, I’d sometimes get off the bus on the way to work and go all the way home just to check one more time. I was always late for everything. My mates would just laugh about it though!

I do find it hard to explain what OCD has meant in my life – it can seem quite trivial sometimes, but for me it got to the point where I was just completely exhausted, and miserable really. I felt like I was trapped inside my own body, as if somebody had taken me over and was making me do all these things. I was really lucky to have had an understanding GP, when I finally did go and try and get some help. I’ve been on anti-depressants for the last year, and started a course of cognitive behavioural therapy – and I feel really positive about the future. My bedroom’s still ridiculously neat, but I’m definitely happier!

On Schizophrenia http://www.channel4.com/programmes/worlds-maddest-job-interview/articles/mad-world-text-version-schizophrenia

Mad World Text Version: Schizophrenia

This is a text version of the Schizophrenia binaural audio experience in Mad World

You begin standing on a train platform on the London Underground, you hear the ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please stand behind the yellow line for your safety’ announcement.

Someone is standing beside you, a friend: ‘Right, my train’s on the other platform. I better run.’

You answer dully: ‘Ok, see you – see you tomorrow.’

Suddenly you hear a hoarse whisper right in you ear: ‘Don’t touch the yellow line.’ The voice is joined by others whispering all around you: ‘Don’t touch it, don’t touch it, ladies and gentlemen.’

Your friend: ‘You know, you really don’t look so good. Are you sure you’re ok?’
You: ‘I’m fine. Honestly, I’ll be fine.’
Your friend: ‘Ok, I’ll see you at the lecture tomorrow morning – it’s medieval history, isn’t it? Perfect to snooze through!’
You: ‘Ha. Yes. Bye Ally.’

She pats you on the shoulder and walks off. You think you can hear her saying something as she goes, her voice harsher, slightly distorted: ‘What a loser.’

Voices seem to be all around you repeating in a sing-song: ‘You look like hell, you look like hell.’

You’re breathing quickly now. A train arrives and comes to a halt, you hear the Mind the Gap’ announcement. As it repeats it becomes more distorted and even demonic. In the background you can hear a group of voices murmuring quietly ‘mind the gap, mind the gap’, some soft laughter.

The train doors open and you hesitate for a moment – you’re breathing heavily – the voices are telling you not to get on the train. ‘Don’t do it, don’t get on, they know what you are, look at them all, they can all SEE you.’

You take a deep breath, step into the train carriage and sit down as the doors close behind you. As the train starts to move you hear a couple chatting next to you, their conversation is innocuous at first – their plans for the evening.

Man: ‘Can’t she stay an hour later?’
Woman: ‘She’s got college tomorrow – I asked her. I can always go home first if you want to stay out later.’
Man: ‘No, don’t be silly. The whole point of getting a babysitter is so we can spend some time together, anyway. With people who don’t puke on us while we’re having dinner.’
Woman: ‘That’s true.’
Man: ‘Also you’d never let me hear the end of it if I stayed in the pub longer than you sweetheart.’
Woman [laughs]: ‘That is also true.’

The couple’s conversation fades in and out slightly as the voices get louder in your head: ‘You know you’re nothing, don’t you? NOTHING. ‘You’re disgusting, filthy, they all know how disgusting you are. They don’t want you near them. You disgust me. You disgust us.’

You tune in and out, picking up a few snatches of conversation and sound around the carriage.

‘We’ve got to change at the next station, Donna!’
‘I’m tired.’
‘ – and so I told him I don’t like being spoken to like that.’

Suddenly you realise the people next to you are talking about you:

Woman: ‘We have to keep him away from the baby.’
Man: ‘He’s disgusting, look at him.’
Woman: ‘Don’t let him touch the baby. He’s filthy.’
Man: ‘He’s pathetic, you’re pathetic. Yes, you. We’re talking to you Sandeep.’

Now everyone in the carriage is talking about you.

‘Sandeep, Sandeep, Sandeep.’
‘We can see you Sandeep. You can’t hide.’
‘We see you.’

A tannoy announcement on the train seems to be speaking directly to you: ‘The front two doors won’t open in the next station, please proceed to the middle carriage you disgusting waste of space.’

The mocking voices become gleeful and rasping: ‘They’re all looking at you. They all SEE you. You can’t hide, you know you can’t hide.’

The sound of the train gets louder and louder. Your breathing gets more rapid.

The voices shout in unison: ‘You’re so ungrateful, you’re a waste of space, a waste of our time. A WASTE.’ Hysterical laughter.

Suddenly the sound of the train dies and you hear one voice speaking clearly in your ear: ‘You know they’re going to kill you now. You know.’

Sandeep’s Story – Schizophrenia

I was at uni when my schizophrenia began, although I didn’t know what was happening at the time. I just woke up one morning and I had this radio alarm clock that woke me up – but instead of the DJ talking about the radio programme, he was talking directly to me. And that kind of went on for a while I guess – people on the TV were commenting on things I was doing, telling me they were going to find me.

I mean, to me it’s just so weird now that I just accepted it – everyone was talking about me, criticizing me. You know, everyone in the street, in my lectures at uni, in the supermarket. Every time a car went past my house I could hear the people inside talking about me, but I just thought that was normal! You know, it was as real as me talking to you now.

And I was incredibly paranoid, hearing all this stuff, it made me want to just stay at home and draw the curtains. It’s hard to explain how it felt to be in my skin then. My thoughts were like listening to 10 different radio stations all at once, but not being quite on the right channel – I couldn’t sleep, I was so tired all the time.

It took me a long while to accept what my doctor was telling me, when I finally did go see my GP. And I’d convince myself that I shouldn’t take my medication, that it was poison. I was just really scared of everything. But after ending up in hospital a couple of times, it kind of started to sink in that something’s really wrong here; you know, that I need this medication and it’s a good thing, because otherwise I can’t see things clearly. I think that’s one of the most difficult things – acceptance, and awareness I suppose, of the warning signs. It’s really important to trust your friends and your family when they start to notice that you’re acting a little differently, because often you won’t notice it yourself.

I know schizophrenia is always with me, but I always tell people that I’m kind of like a diabetic who needs to take insulin. It doesn’t define my life, but it’s still just part of who I am.

This is the story from the BBC site, that talks about the ‘closely entwined links’ between creativity and mental health. There were several other links that lead from this page. I will provide the links and the full texts (in case they later disappear) for all the stories below – most recent first. All accessed on the publication date stamp of this post.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19959565

Creativity ‘closely entwined with mental illness’

By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online

Virginia WoolfNovelist Virginia Woolf killed herself

Related Stories

Creativity is often part of a mental illness, with writers particularly susceptible, according to a study of more than a million people.

Writers had a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse, the Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute found.

They were almost twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves.

The dancers and photographers were also more likely to have bipolar disorder.

“It is important that we do not romanticise people with mental health problems, who are too often portrayed as struggling creative geniuses”

Beth Murphy The mental health charity Mind

As a group, those in the creative professions were no more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders than other people.

But they were more likely to have a close relative with a disorder, including anorexia and, to some extent, autism, the Journal of Psychiatric Research reports.

Lead researcher Dr Simon Kyaga said the findings suggested disorders should be viewed in a new light and that certain traits might be beneficial or desirable.

For example, the restrictive and intense interests of someone with autism and the manic drive of a person with bipolar disorder might provide the necessary focus and determination for genius and creativity.

Similarly, the disordered thoughts associated with schizophrenia might spark the all-important originality element of a masterpiece.

Troubled minds

  • Novelist Virginia Woolf, who wrote A Room of One’s Own and To the Lighthouse, had depression and drowned herself
  • Fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid, had depression
  • US author and journalist Ernest Hemingway, who wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls, had depression and killed himself with a shotgun
  • Author and playwright Graham Greene, who wrote the novel Brighton Rock, had bipolar disorder

Dr Kyaga said: “If one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patient’s illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment.

“In that case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost.

“In psychiatry and medicine generally there has been a tradition to see the disease in black-and-white terms and to endeavour to treat the patient by removing everything regarded as morbid.”

Beth Murphy, head of information at Mind, said bipolar disorder personality traits could be beneficial to those in creative professions, but it may also be that people with bipolar disorder are more attracted to professions where they can use their creative skills.

“It is important that we do not romanticise people with mental health problems, who are too often portrayed as struggling creative geniuses.

“We know that one in four people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem this year and that these individuals will come from a range of different backgrounds, professions and walks of live. Our main concern is that they get the information and support that they need and deserve.”

Related Internet links

This story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12368624 ties in well with the poetry research I have been doing from the book ‘Touched With Fire’.

Poetry, the creative process and mental illness

By Alex Hudson BBC News

Luke Wright Poet Luke Wright has to be in a relaxed, stress-free frame of mind to begin writing

Byron was “mad, bad and dangerous to know” according to one lover, Keats was driven to distraction by obsessive love and Sylvia Plath ended her own life.

Depression, madness and insanity are themes which have run throughout the history of poetry.

The incidence of mood disorders, suicide and institutionalisation was 20 times higher among major British and Irish poets between 1600 and 1800 according to a study by psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison.

In other words, poets are 20 times more likely to end up in an asylum than the general population.

Science has puzzled to explain it. One recent study found similar brain patterns in artists at work to those of schizophrenics. Another study found that creative graduates share more personality traits with bipolar patients than less creative ones.

As far back as the mid 1800s, Emily Dickinson stated that “much madness is Divinest sense” and Edgar Allan Poe questioned “whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence”.

“Start Quote

Edgar Allan Poe

Men have called me mad but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence”

Edgar Allan Poe

So what is it about poetry that seems to attract those more likely to suffer a mental disorder?

“If you’re a creative person, then poetry is a great format because it’s short,” says poet Luke Wright.

“You can do almost anything with it and it’s not like a novel – it’s not going to take you years and you have no idea if it’s going to be any good.”

Poetry allows for the nuance of language and the different way someone sees the world.

“I think you’ve always got to be interested in a slightly different aspect of the universe to even want to pick up a pen and analyse the world through poetry,” says spoken word artist Laura Dockrill.

“I think our brains are big scribbles and always active. Because you can write about anything, you’re always on the go – trying to put something to your Velcro head hoping it will stick on.

“Part of poetry is making words do more work that they usually should do and so you’re looking for every angle of what a word might mean and so your brain starts working like as well – over-analysing everything and zooming in to minute detail.”

‘Creative conflict’

Many psychologists have tried to define what makes someone creative or not, and how that can be calculated.

Experiments measuring how many uses a participant could think of for a brick have been carried out but JP Guildford’s model of creativity, published in 1950, is still often used. The ideas of fluency, flexibility and originality of ideas, along with the ability to elaborate on them were the four points of his theory.

Vincent Van Gogh Painters and musicians as well as poets have been associated with mental illness

“Creativity is certainly about not being constrained by rules or accepting the restrictions that society places on us,” chartered psychologist Gary Fitzgibbon told the BBC earlier this year.

“Of course the more people break the rules, the more likely they are to be perceived as ‘mentally ill’.”

So is it mental illness that drives people to art or art that drives people to mental illness?

“A lot of creativity comes from a conflict somewhere in your mind,” says Wright.

“I don’t think you have to be ‘mad’ to be a poet but if your mind is alive, then it can produce both positive and negative responses. It can mean wonderful things but it can mean that fitting into ‘normal’ life is difficult.”

‘Happy chap’

With the increase of mental disorder diagnosis, the idea of what “normal” is has become more difficult. Around 1% of the US population have schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 4% of adults and bipolar disorder affects 2.5% of people, according to the US Census Bureau.

Some see expressing emotions and experiencing the highs and lows of life as positive things.

“I’ve got poems about all sorts of dark subjects but in general I’m a pretty happy chap,” says spoken word artist and musician Scroobius Pip.

“In my life, I don’t sit around discussing murder, suicide and spousal abuse with my mates. I talk about football and normal stuff. It’s important to feel an array of emotions and it’s great for the mind and soul.

“Though poetry, I’m sure, has a lot of people with mental illness, because if these people are having these feelings anyway, expressing them and writing them down and sharing them can help.”

Indeed, the Art Therapy Credentials Board says that art can “reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem”.

Out of the Vortex – poems inspired by depressive illnesses is on BBC Radio 4, Monday 7 February, 2300 GMT and then afterwards on iPlayer.

How Creativity mimics schizophrenia http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10154775

Creative minds ‘mimic schizophrenia’

By Michelle Roberts Health reporter, BBC News

Salvador DaliArtist Salvador Dali is known for his surreal paintings and eccentric personality

Related Stories

Creativity is akin to insanity, say scientists who have been studying how the mind works.

Brain scans reveal striking similarities in the thought pathways of highly creative people and those with schizophrenia.

Both groups lack important receptors used to filter and direct thought.

It could be this uninhibited processing that allows creative people to “think outside the box”, say experts from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.

In some people, it leads to mental illness.

But rather than a clear division, experts suspect a continuum, with some people having psychotic traits but few negative symptoms.

Art and suffering

Some of the world’s leading artists, writers and theorists have also had mental illnesses – the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and American mathematician John Nash (portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film A Beautiful Mind) to name just two.

Creativity is known to be associated with an increased risk of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Thalamus The thalamus channels thoughts

Similarly, people who have mental illness in their family have a higher chance of being creative.

Associate Professor Fredrik Ullen believes his findings could help explain why.

He looked at the brain’s dopamine (D2) receptor genes which experts believe govern divergent thought.

He found highly creative people who did well on tests of divergent thought had a lower than expected density of D2 receptors in the thalamus – as do people with schizophrenia.

The thalamus serves as a relay centre, filtering information before it reaches areas of the cortex, which is responsible, amongst other things, for cognition and reasoning.

“Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus,” said Professor Ullen.

“Creative people, like those with psychotic illnesses, tend to see the world differently to most. It’s like looking at a shattered mirror”

Mark Millard UK psychologist

He believes it is this barrage of uncensored information that ignites the creative spark.

This would explain how highly creative people manage to see unusual connections in problem-solving situations that other people miss.

Schizophrenics share this same ability to make novel associations. But in schizophrenia, it results in bizarre and disturbing thoughts.

UK psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society Mark Millard said the overlap with mental illness might explain the motivation and determination creative people share.

“Creativity is uncomfortable. It is their dissatisfaction with the present that drives them on to make changes.

“Creative people, like those with psychotic illnesses, tend to see the world differently to most. It’s like looking at a shattered mirror. They see the world in a fractured way.

“There is no sense of conventional limitations and you can see this in their work. Take Salvador Dali, for example. He certainly saw the world differently and behaved in a way that some people perceived as very odd.”

‘TROUBLED’ GENIUSES

  • Writer Virginia Woolf
  • Painter Vincent van Gogh
  • Painter Salvador Dali
  • Painter Edvard Munch
  • Composer Robert Schumann
  • Mathematician John Nash
  • Pianist David Helfgott

He said businesses have already recognised and capitalised on this knowledge.

Some companies have “skunk works” – secure, secret laboratories for their highly creative staff where they can freely experiment without disrupting the daily business.

Chartered psychologist Gary Fitzgibbon says an ability to “suspend disbelief” is one way of looking at creativity.

“When you suspend disbelief you are prepared to believe anything and this opens up the scope for seeing more possibilities.

“Creativity is certainly about not being constrained by rules or accepting the restrictions that society places on us. Of course the more people break the rules, the more likely they are to be perceived as ‘mentally ill’.”

He works as an executive coach helping people to be more creative in their problem solving behaviour and thinking styles.

“The result is typically a significant rise in their well being, so as opposed to creativity being associated with mental illness it becomes associated with good mental health.”

Article about an artist with schizophrenia who finds it has nurtured his artistic expression. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7037314.stm

A beautiful mind
Everest on Fire, by Stuart Baker-Brown

Mount Everest, by Stuart Baker-Brown, represents his struggles in life

Stuart Baker-Brown, 43, a photographer and writer based in Dorset, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1996. On World Mental Health Day, he delivers a unique personal insight into how his condition has nurtured his artistic expression.

In the past, schizophrenia has broken my life and taken away many of life’s opportunities, such as work and the ability to interact with society and family or even myself.

The symptoms have been very disabling and destructive and have included psychosis (delusion and hallucinations) which is understood to be a disturbance of sensory perception and creates the inability to recognise reality from the unreal.

Stuart Baker-Brown
Many people with schizophrenia are naturally creative and turn to the arts to release their inner thoughts and emotions
Stuart Baker-Brown

Other daily symptoms, such as depression, suicidal thoughts, the feeling of being controlled by outside forces, paranoia and fear of persecution, have made life very difficult to cope with.

There is also the stigma and discrimination attached to the condition, especially the perceived link to violence – less than 1% of those diagnosed are violent towards others.

I believe the condition is very misunderstood, especially the link with creativity.

The Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky; Nobel prize winner in economics, John Nash (A Beautiful Mind); novelist, poet and writer, Jack Kerouac; and musicians such as Peter Green, Syd Barrett and James Beck Gordon have all either experienced, or are believed to have experienced, schizophrenia in some form.

Confusion

The condition has also been linked to the families of Tennessee Williams and Albert Einstein. Psychologists believe that schizophrenia personality is also associated to the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson and Isaac Newton.

Many people with schizophrenia are naturally creative and turn to the arts to release their inner thoughts and emotions and to express the meaning of their symptoms.

In my experience, schizophrenia is potentially a very creative tool which, as yet, has not been understood or recognised and is mistreated and so its powerful symptoms manifest as confusion and destruction.

SCHIZOPHRENIA
About 1% of people develop schizophrenia
Genetics probably play a part
Ten to 15 per cent of people with a close relation with schizophrenia develop it
Treatments include psychological therapies or medications

If this potential creativity was nurtured and encouraged, I believe we could find something quite unique, rather than the devastation we recognise.

I am now in a very fortunate position and my creativity is beginning to be achieved. My symptoms have eased greatly, due to my own personal belief and will to survive and finding a medication, Seroquel, that truly works with me.

Like other artists, such as Philippa King and Aidan Shingler, who share my condition, I am harnessing my creative side and now using my symptoms to work for me rather than against. This works for me in both writing and other art forms.

The symptoms feed me the tools to become creative. I seem to be thinking all the time and the psychosis is not necessarily destructive. The experience of a hallucination can often be recalled in the creation of artwork or poetry, for example.

Mount Schizophrenia

Much of my writing captures my life with schizophrenia, my past symptoms and experiences. I turn these into short stories or my novel, The Man Who Can, which is a story based on my life and my journey from the spiralling tunnel of darkness towards the bright sky of light.

I also have many sketches of images that have appeared in my thoughts or have appeared in front of me when I have laid relaxing in my bed or even walking along the street.

The subjects of my photography are given added meaning, such as Mount Everest, which represents “Mount Schizophrenia” and my struggles in life.

Sometimes it feels that the symptoms of my condition are very naturally creative and often without any prompting my imagination comes alive. My mind, as others with the condition, is often very stimulated, as if on a more heightened awareness than people without it.

Buddhist Child in Contemplation, by Stuart Baker-Brown

Stuart takes pictures in Nepal where he says there is no stigma

But the problem is expressing what I see or hear because strong cognitive difficulties – such as memory loss, disorganized thoughts, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks – impair my ability to enhance and capture my true creative potential.

Unfortunately psychiatry leans far more towards controlling schizophrenia, rather than showing understanding towards a patient’s true needs and potential capabilities.

There needs to be far more emphasis on working with the symptoms. A far greater holistic approach needs to be adopted.

The link with creativity and schizophrenia has always been evident. Yet research into the understanding of these links has been very limited.

Thankfully, East Carolina University, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the National Institutes of Health in Britain are starting to research the links between schizophrenia and aspects of human creativity and cognition.

I personally believe that we are at the very beginning of having a true understanding of schizophrenia and its symptoms.

Let’s hope that after so much misunderstanding, this new research will open much-needed and refreshing doors to the truth.


Here is a selection of your comments.

I suffer from schizophrenia, have done most of my life I think, I’m a musician and happen to think a rather creative and passionate one at that. I would say there is definitely a link and that yes, while schizophrenia is mostly a curse, there’s a small silver lining by way of a strong and unique creativity. Stuart is right in that the hardest thing to do is harness your creativity with what is effectively a social and mental handicap. Also, the NHS just wants to suppress you and your mind not explore it or find a way to only combat the bad bits, they just want you to ‘calm down’ which inhibits ALL your mental capacity.
Derek, St Albans

A wide range of psychiatric disorders have been ‘linked’ (often tenuously) to creativity. Kay Jamison has noted bi-polar depression in many writers (see ‘Touched with Fire’ her study of the subject). One thing one has to remember that the majority of artists and writers do not suffer from any such disorder and one would not wish to romanticise distressing mental illness too much. Of course a schizophrenic episode can stimulate extraordinary work in an otherwise mediocre artist. The C19 painter Louis Wain is a good example. His cute sentimental cat paintings became demonic and quite remarkable during a period in which he suffered from schizophrenia. When he recovered his paintings became banal once more.
Dectora, London

It was very encouraging to read a positive report about schizophrenia. Having worked in the mental health system, in the UK and the US, for 25 years, I have certainly read enough negative press portraying people with schizophrenia as violent and dangerous. How nice to read something creative and person centred. Thank you!
Sue, New York

This story above is so true, I have a brother who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he releases his inner thoughts and stress by drawing, I’ve just noticed that recently. He also tends to lash out on members of the family and says things that he doesn’t realise what has been said. His mind works like a five-year-old when he’s 28, and he’s had all the possible treatments you can ever have but nothing has changed.
Sumiya Achha, Lancashire

RD Laing has already attempted to harness the creativity of those with schizophrenia in the 1960s. Following the obsession with finding a biological basis for the illness, particularly this miraculous undiscovered gene, he was widely ridiculed and his methods branded as symptomatic of the whole hippy culture of that period.
James Campbell, Kirkcaldy

Very interesting article. My twin brother has schizophrenia so it is very close to the bone – so close that I am unable to help him for fear of becoming like him. There is definitely an artistic flair in all those with this condition and my brother is a lovely, gentle, charming person.
Angela V Frangos, London, UK

Thanks for presenting a positive note on schizophrenia on mental health day. Having worked in psychiatry for 6 years, I feel the greatest challenge we STILL face is stigma and articles like this go a long way in destigmatising it to some extent.
Senthil Subramanian, bracknell, UK

One of the studies mentioned in the first quoted page above is here http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395612002804 but is expensive to buy! So I am adding the extracted text supplied on that page below – it may be something useful to read in full at a later date.

Mental illness, suicide and creativity: 40-Year prospective total population study

  • a Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Box 281, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden
  • b Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • c Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Ulleråker, Uppsala, Sweden
  • d Centre for Violence Prevention, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

View full text

Purchase $31.50

Abstract

We previously demonstrated that patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and their relatives are overrepresented in creative occupations. Here, we use a new dataset with a considerably larger sample of patients (n = 1,173,763) to survey other psychiatric diagnoses and to validate previous findings. The specific aims of this study were to i) investigate if creativity is associated with all psychiatric disorders or restricted to those with psychotic features, and ii) to specifically investigate authors in relationship to psychopathology. We conducted a nested case–control study using longitudinal Swedish total population registries, where the occurrence of creative occupations in patients and their non-diagnosed relatives was compared to that of matched population controls. Diagnoses included were schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, autism, ADHD, anorexia nervosa, and completed suicide. Creative professions were defined as scientific and artistic occupations. Data were analyzed using conditional logistic regression. Except for bipolar disorder, individuals with overall creative professions were not more likely to suffer from investigated psychiatric disorders than controls. However, being an author was specifically associated with increased likelihood of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. In addition, we found an association between creative professions and first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa, and for siblings of patients with autism. We discuss the findings in relationship to some of the major components of creativity.

Keywords

  • Creativity;
  • Schizophrenia;
  • Bipolar disorder;
  • Autism;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Suicide;
  • Nested case–control study

Figures and tables from this article:

Full-size image (136 K)
Fig. 1. Associations between diagnoses and creative professions.
Table 1. Descriptive data for patients.
View table in article
Table 2. Associations between proband psychiatric morbidity and a creative occupation in proband and first-degree relatives.
View table in article
Relatives to all patients were not allowed to have any event of the disorder of the patient.
Corresponding author contact information
Corresponding author. Tel.: +46 8 52482277; fax: +46 8 314975.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Note to users: Corrected proofs are Articles in Press that contain the authors’ corrections. Final citation details, e.g., volume/issue number, publication year and page numbers, still need to be added and the text might change before final publication.

Although corrected proofs do not have all bibliographic details available yet, they can already be cited using the year of online publication and the DOI , as follows: author(s), article title, journal (year), DOI. Please consult the journal’s reference style for the exact appearance of these elements, abbreviation of journal names and use of punctuation.

When the final article is assigned to an issue of the journal, the Article in Press version will be removed and the final version will appear in the associated published issue of the journal. The date the article was first made available online will be carried over.

And of course the other link is the marvellous Mind.

Mental wellbeing has always been a really key part of my practice (from the twee images I created when I started the MA which created a sense of wellbeing in me, right up to looking at the bigger and wider concerns of mental health). I am currently focussing on links between creativity and mental wellbeing. Bobby Baker http://dailylifeltd.co.uk/about-us/people/daily-life-ltd-team/bobby-baker/ is a key person for me. She was significant in bringing Mental Health issues to the fore with her exhibition at the Wellcome Institute. http://www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/bobby-bakers-diary-drawings.aspx
http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/News/Media-office/Press-releases/2009/WTX053511.htm

One of the links I had found in my ‘hoarding’ research was a link to an artist who uses her OCD positively as a key part of her practice. http://mentallycreative.wordpress.com/. Hoarding has a more obsessive and collective aspect to it than is present in my own life and the work I did on this was based on creating a feeling of claustrophobia and oppressiveness from ‘mess’ around the house (iPad drawings).

These are all found on the Wellcome site page for the Bobby Baker exhibition. However some of these links are no longer valid. If I have found an alternative I have listed it underneath.

Useful links

A selection of websites related to the themes explored in the exhibition.

Bobby Baker’s Daily Life Ltd

First Step Trust

Mental Health Alliance

Mental Health Foundation

Mental Health Media

Mind

The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health

Rethink

Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health

SANE

YoungMinds

Bobby Baker’s site is now this one. http://dailylifeltd.co.uk/about-us/people/daily-life-ltd-team/bobby-baker/

And an interesting talk from her exhibition of her Diary Drawings at the Wellcome Institute.


STOP PRESS…

An article came through from AN on 09/11/2012 (links accessed on this date) which was about Arts and Identity. I looked at it because this statement appeared in the email précis: “How do artists and those involved in the arts change public policy?”. I thought this would be interesting because of the current AS Seminar. However, it turned out to be far more than that. http://new.a-n.co.uk/news/single/visual-arts-role-in-scotlands-social-transformation

The website it talks of (Mindful Maps) has a section about Creativity and Wellbeing. Although this speaks of ‘creativity’ in it’s widest definition, it is interesting nonetheless for seeing how this can extrapolate to more extreme levels and focus in on Individuals own wellbeing. It is also interesting to note that professionals now see the link between being ‘free to be creative’ and wellbeing.

These are new sites pages, but I expect they will grow and grow and I will continue to read them with interest.

http://www.mindfulmaps.com/category/creativity-wellbeing/

http://www.mindfulmaps.com/tag/wellbeing/

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