Emotional Thump by Louise Pymer and published by Chipmunkapublishing is a tiny little book that would possibly have been suffocated and missed in the great Mount Unread had I not stuck to my rule of sitting and browsing each arrival within a few days.
Firstly I explored the publisher, unheard of here and quite a revelation when I explored their website. Citing themselves as the world's first Mental Health Publisher and with an aim to change the way people see mental health, you can but applaud the Chipmunka initiative to reduce the million suicides worldwide to zero.
Aiming for the stars is a noble thought but it worried me slightly. I did wonder whether this stretched the mission statement just a fraction into the realms of incredulity for anyone happening by this website?
Might this worthy aim diminish their credibility?
Sorry, that might just be cynical old NHS me talking there, but now I see what an appropriate book this is to write about on January 25th, Virginia Woolf's birthday.
The intention of this publisher is clear, genuine and much-needed,
'We are a unique social enterprise focused on publishing both factual and creative literature. We want to prove that everything in life is a mental health issue and therefore eliminate the humiliation that people with "mental illness" feel.This process is already happening. Do not let your children grow up not understanding people with mental health issues.
We work with the government, the health service, the media, mental health organisations, charities and private businesses to successfully publish and promote literature that brings a positive attitude towards mental health issues.'
There is a Chipmunka charitable foundation established in 2004 which includes patronage from those who established The Big Issue so this all clearly has its origins in philanthropy of the most honourable kind and would seem to be a lasting online resource for a wealth of publications on mental health issues.
Emotional Thump written in first person daily diary form as university student Mel recounts her own perspective on her twenty-eight day stay in a psychiatric unit.I made the assumption that she had been detained under a compulsory Mental Health Act section and slowly the truth emerges.
Louise Pymer delicately reveals Mel's rising awareness of the obsessions, anxieties and panic that have led to her hospital admission and it's possible to detect the progress that she makes over the twenty-eight days. With medication comes a degree of insight for Mel but it is hard-won. There are side-effects to the drugs and issues of judgement, prejudice, acceptability and the cost of care are all part of her thinking as she talks directly to us the reader.
' Would that be money well spent? Is it a waste to spend your taxes on keeping me somewhere against my will and giving me expensive drugs I don't want?
You choose: you're the sane one.'
I felt the final entry on Day Twenty-Eight packed quite a punch but I won't reveal.
I suspect it would be tempting to write a 250 page novel on this whole subject and thereby lose a disinterested reader instantly.With a mere fifty page novella Louise Pymer has shown great restraint with her carefully chosen and measured words saying all that needs to be said. This is concentrated, often direct and forthright writing and all the more effective for that.For anyone struggling to understand the perspective of perhaps a close relative or friend going through this here's the right book.
The novella enhanced by extra reference information on many further aspects of mental illness and with a wealth of research links, a bibliography, actual case studies, explanations about the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants, comments from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and examinations of care in the community.
I was right, reading this alongside Prince Rupert's Teardrop by Lisa Glass is to reach a new understanding of mental illness.
I turned the final page feeling very well informed.How much easier it is to sympathise with a broken leg or cancer than mental illness and Louise Pymer's intention with the book was clear,
'I wanted to expose to the reader how thin the line is between sanity and insanity, and how every human being can identify wih someone who has been diagnosed as mentally ill...the rejection of the mentally ill and society's ignorance...'
I think she has succeeded admirably.