Troubador Cultivating Mad Cow

Released: 28/05/2015

eISBN: 9781784629212

Format: eBook

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Cultivating Mad Cow


Sat in a row in a call centre in an unassuming new build office on the outskirts of Oxford, Barry White, a forty nine year old slightly balding diabetic telephone counsellor, was putting in his usual eight hour shift. Little did he know that his life was going to change forever.

Cultivating Mad Cow is a true story that could easily be described as a memoir, but it’s more than that, it’s a story about madness, love, desperation, tragedy and recovery. Rich with comic moments, which against the backdrop of so much despair and anguish makes it both a comical but at the same time a heart-breaking read.

New to writing, Kathryn brings a unique unsanitised, voice to tell the profoundly disturbing story of a woman trying to hold it all together, working in child protection and dealing with an unknown serious mental health condition.

Things start to go badly wrong when Kathryn goes off work on annual leave and she is unaware she is having a mental health episode. With her wheelie bin going missing and with the new found desire to build phallic objects in her garden and get herself arrested for outlandish and hilarious public disturbances, Kathryn is offered support in the form a telephone counsellor by the name of Barry White.

As the weeks progress and with little help on the ground, Kathryn begins to form a romantic attachment to Barry and creates a world where only he and she exist. As Barry writes his case notes, she writes her book. Her increasing need to be near Barry and decreasing inhibitions lead to disaster when she sends him inappropriate material which he shares with his manager, leading to them to terminate all contact between her and Barry.

Undeterred by this latest turn of events, she purchases a lighthouse made from resin, throws it in her clapped out Nova, abandons her daughter and sets off to Oxford in search of Barry. When Barry fails to show up in a church which she believed the universe had led her to, she is mortified. The truth that Barry is not telepathically connected to her and that there is no great master plan created by a higher force to bring them together, is too much to bear and she returns home sinking into a darker, more disturbing state. With Barry gone and a career in tatters, she decides to return to work with devastating consequences.

Yesterday was the launch of a new book from a new Sheffield author. 'Cultivating Mad cow' is a personal narrative of a woman going through the trauma and confusion of a psychotic episode. Author, Kathryn Littlewood, recounts life from eleven years ago when she became very ill. With each turn of the page the reader gains a unique insight in to the depths of desperation, confusion and loss, mixed with the intensity of love, laughter and positive energy, only someone experiencing a Bipolar psychotic episode understands.

This book is as important to professionals, academics, and those in training for example, Social Work, Medicine, Nursing, just as much as those who have an interest in life, society and mental distress.

Whilst there are many books and journal articles on Bipolar, mental distress, trauma and/or psychosis, there are few written with the dedication and insight Kathryn shows. This important narrative, written in a style that is accessible to all, opens the door on a subject and experience that is ordinarily private or disregarded - giving the reader the privilege of understanding rarely available. Ali Hayward

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Kathryn Littlewood

I'm an ex child protection social worker who became unwell due to the stress off my job and also the chronic upset I felt about what was happening in our society and to our communities. I tried to do something about that my holding a meeting and writing to Mr Blair to tell him how this country needed to be run better, he didn't respond. As the months progressed, the more unwell I became, behaving in an outlandish manner and generally living a consequence free existence. Months went by before I got help form the mental health team and when I did it was very poor. I didn't fully understand what was happening to me and that just giving me a diagnosis of being bipolar without proper knowledge of how to manage it of why it was happening and what to expect next, I became extremely psychotically depressed and threw myself off a ninety foot building on 8th October 2004.

The story isn't just about that though, its about relating with other people, one person in particular, Barry White, a telephone counsellor from Oxford who tried to help.

There are so many messages in this book, not least that there needs to be a radical change of attitude in the way the mental health services deal with people who do become ill like me, there are issues about where people should go to when they are in a crisis, how knowledge and education is such a powerful tool not only top prevent accidents like this from happening but also to aid recovery.

I have an interesting unique story here to tell. I'm not a professional writer and I haven't been to writing classes but I've lived an interesting, funny and sad life and I think that raw stories like these are the best.

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