Theatre Production at Bath Spa University

Borderland

What a great week we have had here at Red Room Productions, with the final rehearsals of Borderland, a physical theatre production complete, we are ready to go, and really looking forward to sharing this new and compelling work with an audience.

Borderland is a provocative re-working of the 19th century Gothic novella The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Gilman-Perkins, which tells the story of a young mothers post-partum psychosis, who, confined to a Gothic mansion, and not listened to, tells of her frightening experience of a women not being heard. Little is known about this illness, and the project aimed to provide a voice.
Then, this week there is a major storyline on the popular soap opera, Eastenders, as the character, Stacey, is experiencing postpartum psychosis; this is a brilliantly observed storyline. Now people are talking and this little known illness is in the news, women are now talking about their experiences. I posted something on the BBC website about our installation at the 44AD Gallery and the Performance, and a woman from Action Post Partum, an online network, directly got in touch with me, and this is the wonderful part, she has offered to send stories of her own and other womens’ experiences to be part of the installation. This is serendipity at its best, this is very important and we are so grateful to have made these connections with real womens’ lives.

Borderland is at the University Theatre, Bath Spa University from 28th-30th January at 7.30pm, and 2pm on Saturday. Tickets from http://www.bathspalive.co.uk

Borderland, the installation runs from 26th-30th January at the 44AD Gallery, Bath. http://www.44ad.net

For more information contact http://www.marysteadman.co.uk

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Guest Blog Post by Ben Howlett Conservative MP for Bath

It was a privilege this week to get the opportunity to speak in this week’s debate in Parliament on Mental Health. Contributions to the debate were measured and reasoned with many MPs speaking from their own experiences with mental health, either from assisting constituents or in their own lives. It was great to see such cross-party support for the Government’s plans to bring parity of esteem between mental and physical health.

Parliament is often criticised for being a ‘talking shop’, but I think keeping debate alive on this issue is fundamental in addressing it. As I said during the debate, it was through other MPs discussing their own mental health issues that I felt able to confront and discuss mine. For all the progress we have made in destigmatising mental health, there is a great deal still be done.

This is clear from my surgeries. I have been surprised by the number of constituents who have come with mental health issues. Though I was always do my best to assist anyone in need, these constituents really need professional advice and support. This support is readily available. The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust has Hillview, which is an excellent facility. We also have a range of community organisations and charities such as Bath Mind.

This is why I have committed to regular surgery to work on mental health with Sirona Care and Health, as I have done recently. Raising awareness and signposting services may seem like a small gesture, but it really is vital in tackling mental health problems.

That is why as MPs we must never forget the importance of still talking about mental health. We have a responsibility to be advocates for our constituents and speak about mental health, wherever and whenever we can.  We play a vital role in this debate, and hopefully we will be able to signpost more of our constituents to the right place.

Ben Howlett MP standing in front of a Mind poster

Ben Howlett MP for Bath

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

I Wonder What The Pigeons Taste Like?

Cold is like a language,
I need to learn it
or I die.

Litter goes in the bin – ah lunch!
A crushing hunger fighting over
a half-finished burger and scraps of fries.

At first I shit in my jeans.
Sometimes I had advice
from my “buddies”.

It defines you –
dog eat dog
as the competition grows.

Dog piss washed my face
and I was ready
for the new day.

What will happen
to my pension –
I cry so.

The subway is
the loneliest place
I’ll ever know – the Devil’s home.

That barren landscape
being so sparsely populated
that my mother wouldn’t recognise me.

I soon lost the art of language;
my parched mouth
developed grunts as acknowledgement.

A cooling breeze to you
might be an ice wind for me –
fanning my feral eyes.

We are all animals.
Most are dressed
in human skin

I was beyond psychiatric help.
I lay helpless –
would I ever kiss again?

My friends were the rats,
who had themselves befriended
those who had been before me.

Homelessness isn’t what it used to be.
It took hold of me,
it is not freedom.

I had developed the art of survival
in such an inner city wilderness,
such is the fragility of time.

So I did wonder what the pigeons’ taste like?
Nature at its most raw, forever more
a human organ!

I grasped truth
until my hands bled –
It was my stigmata.

I never knew myself until now.

By  Fairburn

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

Mental Notes Quote of the Week: No. 5

quote05

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Seven Tips For Living With A Bipolar Partner

If you’re starting a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder, don’t think for a moment that a long and happy life together can’t be yours. My wife has bipolar disorder and we’re still going strong.

Here are my seven tips for not just surviving but thriving:

1) Believe them

When I started going out with my future wife she was still undiagnosed. From the off I told her I believed her and that we would get her help together. It was not long before we found an understanding GP and she could get, after a bit of trial and error, medication that suited her. Perhaps more important than any drug, to this day she knows that she is not alone and that I am always there for her.

2) It’s good to talk

I ask her my wife a hundred times a day how she is feeling. (It must be annoying sometimes.) That way I have learned lots about her condition and about how I can be better at helping her when she needs it.

3) Calm

I have discovered that a calm and orderly life is such a help for bipolar sufferers. I was a bit chaotic when we first started going out, and her needing a distinctly non-chaotic nest has been a real benefit for me as well. Win-win. Not that you can’t still let your hair down, but weeks filled mostly with days of peace and tranquility are the ticket.

4) High bad not good

Be careful and not glad when your partner is feeling very “high” (manically energetic). Far from being good, this means they can be very vulnerable and that you need to keep a good eye on them.

5) Face the lows together

It’s horrible when your partner is feeling depressed, but by providing lots of calm and lavishing tons of love on them you can get through it, and that always brings you very close together.

6) Laugh in the face of it all

With all those ups and downs (or “brain fails”, as we call them), you’ve got to laugh sometimes – it helps rob bipolar of some of its potency.

7) Hugs

Cuddle each other at every available opportunity. It’s good for you both.

by Gideon Kibblewhite

Posted in Articles | 5 Comments

Mental Notes Quote of the Week: No. 4

quote04

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Mental Notes Quote of the Week: No. 3

quote03

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eat, Talk, Think event, on World Mental Health Day

A great success in the centre of Bath

St MungosBroadway and Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Trust (AWP), worked in partnership with volunteers and other organisations, to create Eat, Talk, Think on Old Bond St, which provided thought provoking activities related to this year’s theme of ‘Dignity in Mental Health’.

We were part of something much bigger in Bath & NE Somerset, as other partner organisations were running events in Paulton, Midsomer Norton, Radstock, and Friends Meeting House in Bath.

wmhd1wmhd2wmhd3wmhd4

Eat, Talk Think was all about engaging with the general public. Standout points included:

The Bath Samba band starting the day off.

There were over 400 hundred Wellbeing cakes made and given out by volunteers. Each cake resulted in a conversation about how the cake, grey in the middle and colourful on the outside, might reflect someone’s mental health. The volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the day, encouraging passers by to take part.

Helen, a human book entitled ‘What’s it really like working on a mental health ward?’, wondered why people were taking photos, until she found out the person who had booked her out for a 15 minute conversation was @MrJonnyBenjamin, known for his film ‘Stranger on the Bridge’.

Creativity Works helped people create So far So good paper butterflies. The butterflies, with their inspiring messages, were given by their creators to the person of their choice.  A ten year old decided to create a fortune teller, and included the message ‘You’re not alone’.

Nicky and her volunteers, who included AWP BANES Clinical Director Dr Bill Bruce-Jones and psychiatrist Dr Richard Stanton, gave out ‘Only Us’ badges, and had conversations based on the stereotype – there’s “them” – and then there’s “us”.

Sophie created a tree full of Mind Apples. Each apple was created by a member of the public, with their 5-a-day for mental health.

Bath University volunteers joined Off the Record for a great stigma busting session with large Wheel of Fortune.

wmhd5

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Mental Notes Quote of the Week: No. 2

quote02

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Voice on Radio Bristol!

bbcradiobristol

Kate Morton and Malcolm Sutton at the BBC Radio Bristol studio.

Kate Morton, CEO of Bath Mind, Malcolm Sutton from Greenlinks and Kate McDonnell, Bath Mind trustee were on BBC Radio Bristol yesterday, talking mental health and blogging.

by Bath Mind

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment