Review of Start
Graham Morgan MBE
Rated 4 Stars ****
About the Author
Graham was born in 1963 in York. He went to university as an angst-ridden student and was quickly admitted to one of the old mental asylums, prompting the work he has done for most of his life: helping people with mental illness speak up about their lives and their rights. He has mainly worked in Scotland, where he has lived for the last thirty years, twenty of them in the Highlands. In the course of this work he has been awarded an MBE, made Joint Service User Contributor of the Year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and, lately, has spoken at the UN abouthis and other peoples’ experiences of detention. He has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has been compulsorily treated under a CTO for the last ten years. He currently lives in Argyll with his partner and her young twins. Start is his first book.
Graham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained.
Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.
At a time when Mental Wellbeing is increasingly on everyone’s radar, the book ‘Start’ by Graham Morgan (MBE) has an important place, more than ever before. Graham Morgan (MBE) has experience and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is literally a book that can be read by any adult. It is highly accessible. You don’t even have have a mental health condition or be in the professional field to be able to read it, understand it and find relatable nuggets that will fill you with empathy and give a deeper undestanding. Don’t be mistaken, this is no sob story, nor is it attention seeking. It’s deeper and more meaningful than that and it gives the impression that it couldn’t have been easy to write, but all the same, that Graham Morgan (MBE) is sharing his life with readers to deepen their understanding and increase their knowledge on his condition as presents is a full account of what it is like to live with mental illness. It is his own life experiences.
Graham Morgan comes across very quickly as a grounded guy when it comes to his MBE. This book is not a text book, so isn’t too full of jargon. Where that cannot be helped, there is a well-presented glossary at the back of the book.
The book begins with thoughts other people have had about the book. They are worth reading. They add interest. Start, begins properly with Life at the Links Cafe. This is different from so many books about Mental Health. It’s not a How to Book.
Right from the outset there is an air of positivity about it, almost a lightness, that I must admit was unexpected, but I like that attitude within it. It shows that life is not all anguish and woe, even when living with mental illness. Okay, it’s not all wit, but life isn’t, as I am sure readers the world over already know.
Throughout the book, the reader is given a real and genuine candid glimpse of what it is like to be walking in his shoes. It’s got so much life about it. He puts across his condition very well. It’s so easy to read and feel genuine empathy. There’s a seering truth that runs deeply through the pages as we see Graham picking up the pieces. The book goes between the light and the deepest depths of darkness throughout as he talks of some of the good things about life, but also about being sectioned under the very mental health act he helped to write.
It’s thought-provoking as we see the contraditions of thought processes that run through his life on a regular basis. It is raw with stark emotional threads. Graham Morgan does not shy away from anything about his mental illness. This also includes hospitalisations, support workers, psychiatric professionals, medication too. It also includes a bit of an insight in how he is treated because he has a mental illness.
I love the style of writing. Graham has adopted the more personal approach of speaking directly to his reader. This matters to him and he wants the reader to know that, and through the book, wants that dialogue.
We see insights to the relationship with his wife and how he might be with someone again.
We see how he has had suicidal tendencies through self-harm methods.
This book is ever so moving. This is a book which has hope contained within it that there is still, even through all the mental illness that Graham Morgan lives in, that there is hope in the future and there is life that he is living.
The book goes through the consecutive months of the year with their own appropriately named “chapters”.
It is worth reading. It is Graham Morgan (MBE) life story and it is an important one. One perhaps many people do not know with so much honesty and openness. It leaves its mark. It left me feeling enlightened, interested and perhaps a bit more understanding. We are all human-beings with so many complexities within our make-up and life is not all black and white. It’s not all going to be sad or hard like it’s not all going to be completely happy and joyous every moment of everyday of it. This book shows all of that and more through first hand experience, which makes it such an important read, even if it is not your usual genre or topic.
With thanks to Love Book Groups Tours for inviting me to review this book for a Book Blog Tour and for supplying the E-Book. Please note readers, you can buy this book in both physical and E-book forms.
Author: Graham Morgan, MBE
Publisher: Fledgling Press
Print ISBN 9781912280070
eBook ISBN 9781912280087
Main Purchase Points: WH Smith, Amazon, Foyles Bookstore