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Mr. Michel Syrett "history buff" (Helensburgh, Scotland)

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When Do I Get My Shoelaces Back?.....a Diary of a Psychotic Breakdown.
When Do I Get My Shoelaces Back?.....a Diary of a Psychotic Breakdown.
by Suzy Johnston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read, 6 April 2011
`This is a raw, immediate and highly literate

account of Suzy's psychotic episode, written `in real time'.

Suicidal impulses, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions are

described in acerbic and uncompromising language. The

title "When do I get my shoelaces back?" is a reference to

the time when her shoelaces, belts etc were taken away from

her for her own protection when she wanted to end her life.

As a mental health professional myself, I would certainly

advocate that other professionals read this account of her

innermost feelings and thoughts throughout her trauma.

I was highly inspired that through her account she was

focussed on her own recovery and displayed a willingness

to go beyond her pain barrier and confront the conflicting

thoughts that she was experiencing.

I reflected on my time as a nurse on an acute ward, and

the conflict I experienced with procedures that we had

to follow given the observations of distress that were

displayed in service users with similar symptoms. However,

in reading Suzy's account it made me very much aware of

how you truly cannot imagine or understand someone's

innermost thoughts and experiences.

I also feel that Suzy's account would be an inspiration to

other service users. Certainly it would assist them through

difficult times and help them through their recovery. In

the epilogue of her book she states that:

"I haven't mentioned many of the other patients in this

book, that's for privacy reasons but there is one story I would

like to recount. I was sitting curled up on a seat in reception

when one of the male patients came in through the main door

carrying two cups of coffee, some sugar and some portions

of milk... `You look like you could do with that more than

me...' Sometimes kindness takes you breath away."

Another significant point in this for me is the influence

and strength of carers. In this instance Suzy mentions

the gratitude she has for both her professional carers (i.e.

nurses, key worker etc) and her (now) husband, Michel, for

just being there and supporting her when needed. She has

continued conflict with her paranoia about the nurses and

staff whom she saw as her enemy.

Her love and dedication to Michel also shines through

again in conflict with her symptoms, and her difficulties

to struggle to support him when his mother became

terminally ill. "Michel is having a hellish time - he's

obviously really worried about his mum, looks exhausted,

is worried about me and is generally struggling. I DON'T


Yet the tenderness and warmth of their relationship

certainly comes through and continues on.

As I read through the account I also shared Suzy's anger -

thinking why has this been allowed to happen to her? Why

is she having to suffer this experience? Surely there was

another way of treating the virus - why should her mental

health have to suffer. Suzy captures this by describing her

experience as: "Viral Hepatitis A was a thief who had

stolen my barricades which had been carefully constructed to

keep out psychosis"

She goes on to describe her frustration of seeing the drugs

trolley only a few metres away knowing that it contained

medication that had kept her well. Yet it was forbidden for

her to take this.

Suzy's strength and ability to account her symptoms

through her struggle has enhanced my understanding of

a person's difficulty through illness. I could never have

before understood or imagined the level of pain, anguish

and utter despair that someone could be going through.

The account is a must-read for both mental health

practitioners and anyone wanting a first hand impression

of mental illness. No other account captures so vividly the

unrelenting pain and pressure of in-patient recovery.

I would advocate that this book is not only useful to all

practitioners both new and `old' but to carers, families

and service users as this may help them relate to their


Alison Lee, Clinical Specialist,

Meriden Family Programme

The Devil's Whore [DVD] [2008]
The Devil's Whore [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Andrea Riseborough
Price: £9.99

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Viewing for History Buffs, 23 Nov. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It is a tragedy that The Devil's Whore was never made as it was originally intended, in its full extended version. As it is, it is a flawed masterpiece.

The irritating signs of violent editing, to squeeze the story into four paltry episodes (events jump by as much a 3-4 years at a time) is more than made up for by the vivid characterisation of one woman's rite of passage to emancipation and graphic portrayal on the only full-blown revolution the UK has ever experienced.

Gratifyingly absent is the saccarine overlay of Cavalier romanticism of previous TV series like By The Sword Divided.

The characters portrayed on the Parliamentary side - Cromwell, Rainsborough, 'Free-born' John Lilburne - are terrifying and admirable at the same time, advocating ideas centuries ahead of their time (universal sufferage, equal rights for women) and attempting to yank the conservative population of England into the modern age, whether it wanted to or not. Who'd have ever thought a popular TV series would make popular characters of The Levellers and The Diggers?

This is absolutely required viewing for anyone who wants the real story of the English Civil War, free of the naive simplicities of 1066 and all that!!

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