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May 27 , 2009

Feathers in My Soul


DescriptionFeathers in my soul is both a fractured autobiography and a celebration of the world around us, a tale of recovery and a description of the experience known as schizophrenia. In a series of themed chapters Graham shows that life when seen to have a serious mental illness does not have to be a tragedy or the defining element of a person's life. Graham writes of his life growing up in Norfolk, Scotland, Sussex, Berkshire and Gloucestershire among other places, he describes travels abroad with his wife. He reflects on a near disastrous transatlantic yacht delivery and of his early days climbing on local crags and in Wales. He talks of the music he loves and his delivery from sadness by the love of his wife, he describes the snow and the Highlands, deserts and rainforests. Grahams story is an attempt to show that we all have a world of different experiences which all define us in different ways and that although the label of schizophrenia and the world of mental illness has been a central part of his adult life there are a myriad different perspectives and experiences that make him and anyone else who experiences mental illness into the everyday citizens we meet every day on the streets, peoples who are good and bad, vibrant and sad, calm and passionate. People like everyone else, each with a wonderful story to be told if only we listen closely enough. About the AuthorGraham lives in Nairn in the Scottish Highlands. He works with a group called HUG which speaks out on behalf of people with a mental illness. Prior to this he worked in Lothian doing the same sort of job. He has participated at a local, national and international level in seeking to improve services for people with mental health problems and to find ways of challenging the stigma and discrimination many people still face. He has been given a diagnosis of schizophrenia, although he was originally diagnosed with a personality disorder, he also flirts with alcohol abuse and depression and is presently detained under a community treatment order. Graham grew up in many different parts of the UK as his father was in the Royal Air Force, he was a boarder at public schools from the ages to nine to sixteen. He was first seen to suffer from mental ill health in his early twenties and his treatment in an old asylum prompted him to help set up one of the first drop in centres for young people with a mental illness in the UK that was run and managed by its members. In his childhood, Graham discovered his love of climbing, sailing and the natural world. He stopped climbing due to his fear of heights but spent time in his early twenties as a yacht skipper in the Far East. Graham lives alone now but lived with his wife for twenty four years and helped bring up his son. He has lived in the Highlands for sixteen years and hopes to remain there indefinitely. Graham has an MBE for services to mental health.
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