is a highly
with a challenging
career. Don’t mind
me is a short, very
describing her acute
psychotic breakdown, attributed to a
dysfunctional childhood and abusive
I struggled initially with the bald
style: it was like reading The diary of
a nobody, but without the wit and
humour. However, as I continued I
became gripped with curiosity to know
how the story developed. Haire’s early
feeling of being an outsider moved
me. I was mesmerised as she told how
she began to experience in adulthood
the violence and abuse she had been
subject to as a child. For onlookers
this pattern of repetition is hard to
understand, but by simply recounting
it, Haire lets us see how it happens.
She marries her husband out of ‘a false
sense of duty and fear’; she stays with
this shockingly abusive man out of
‘an enormous sense of responsibility’
and a need to ‘see things through’,
conditioned in her as a child.
Haire describes her encounters
with various psychological services.
She found psychiatry ‘remote and
uncaring’. The day hospital reinforced
the notion that she was ill; a day
centre was similarly unsatisfactory.
Some medication was helpful, but
she did not have enough information
about the best treatments and side
effects. Electroconvulsive therapy
she found ‘did work’. On developing
obsessive compulsive disorder, she
received cognitive behaviour therapy,
a ‘sticking plaster technique’ enabling
her to acknowledge painful experiences
without talking about them. For two
years she attended two weekly sessions,
which ‘really helped [to] overcome my
fears’. ‘The techniques I learned were
useful and have stayed in my mind’.
At one point she enters
psychotherapy for alcohol problems,
and there she enjoys dream work and
painting. A therapist becomes a ‘lifeline’
and recommends books that give her
insight into her relationships.
As a first-hand account of severe
mental illness Don’t mind me will be
valuable to all who deal with such
problems and experience them. An
appendix provides useful information
about self-help resources.
Person centred counsellor and former
community psychiatric nurse
This review was published in the October 2009 issue of HCPJ (Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal), published by BACP.
Don't Mind Me