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
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.