Writings And Musings About Schizophrenia, Fish, Rocks, Wood And The Years So Far
By Graham Morgan
Key Themes: autobiography, schizophrenia, addiction, mental health
Feathers 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 Author
Graham 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.
In the beginning there was the circle; a beautiful gold ring that spoke of immortality and the absence of endings.
In the beginning was the line that travelled in a straight line across the land and at its start was not a beginning but the point before the shovel and the pencil landed on the paper and before that was the planning and the sharpening and before that the paper was made and the idea was germinated and the baby was born and before the baby was the father and the mother and before them the little baby growing towards the end.
Is there ever a beginning or an ending beyond convenience? Maybe life is the beginning and death the ending or maybe it’s the other way round depending on how you see eternity.
A beach is a beginning and an ending. It is the end of the land and the start of the sea and the end of the sea and the start of the land. It is an edge where everything is full of impermanence. It is a place where you stay briefly. It is an absence, an oasis and a desert where nothing grows and everyone smiles.
I have known many beaches. The beaches of my beginnings are maybe the beaches of my endings, as I just lived on them accepted them and grew. The beaches of my later years are maybe the beaches of my beginnings, as here I find sanctuary and peace and the free soul that flies with the sand and the wind.
What beaches can I tell you of?
The last beach I went in that autumn was at Findhorn in North East Scotland. A blustery wintry day and Kate was fed up with the length of time we were all spending locked in the cosy prisons of our beds so, suddenly with 20 minutes notice we were breakfasting, packing and piling into the car.
I was probably still woozy with last night’s alcohol so, for once, I was glad that I had lost my driving license and that Ann was driving.
The drive to Findhorn is amazing; you float along the road to Grantown, round the bends and past the trees and then you takes a left and within minutes you are on Dava moor where everything is bleak and breathtaking and windswept and alone.
We pass Lochindorb, with its castle island, where one winter we saw the piles and piles of ice at the end of the loch; drifted by the wind and the thaw and the freeze; the stack of glistening twinkling plates and shimmers of sheer see through glimmer.
After you pass Ferness, with its building surrounded by hundreds of horseshoes, you reach Randolph’s leap where the river Findhorn gathers into gorges and rapids and swirling, whirling eddies of black water between cliffs.
This has always been a favourite stop on our way to Forres. It is here that some warrior leapt an impossible distance across the gorge to safety. It is here that I first of all knew for once and for all what fear of heights really is. I had always known it from when I first started climbing, but here, when we walked the narrow paths besides the steep drops and climbed down the narrow stairs down the cliffs to the river, I knew fear and it was a fear for me, but built on my son. He is 18 now, but in the early days, as a five year old, he would run along the paths in innocence and peer over edges in innocence and, as he did that, my groin would contract, my stomach hollow and my skin sweat and I would feel sick and shaky at the thought, the feeling, the intimation of his beautiful body shattered on the rocks or swept away in the rapids.
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