All In The Mind


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136 in stock


By Victoria Martin

ISBN: 978-1-84747-549-7
Published: 2008
Pages: 72
Key Themes: autobiography, mental health discussion, advice, personal experience, medical approaches


Description and About the Author

Mental illnesses affect many people in many different ways. For those suffering with mental health issues it can be embarrassing to admit that they have a problem. For those who are fortunate not to suffer it can be almost impossible to comprehend the situation.
For years the author witnessed mental illness from the outside looking in. She could appreciate that those around her could not cope with certain situations but real understanding was only achieved in latter years when she, was forced to accept that she had a few mental health problems of her own.
It was with her former ignorance and lack of understanding still etched in her mind that she decided to shine a light on it from a different angle.
From witnessing her father’s ‘nervous breakdown’ to realising the extent, to which, her friends and acquaintances were affected she attempts to explain and dispel the myths that surround mental illness.
All aspects of mental health are identified and discussed from panic attacks and depression to obsessive compulsive disorders and phobias. Most have been witnessed first hand or have been experience by the author herself.
The author admits to having no medical background and asks more questions than she answers but it is by questioning the issues raised that she tries to attain a deeper understanding of a very complex subject.
One of the main issues raised is the ability for two people to share what appears to be the same problem but to realise that they deal with it in entirely different ways. That just because one is able to cope in one environment, whilst another cannot, does not diminish the other’s problem.
All conditions are explained from the point of view of the sufferer so that non sufferers are better able to understand this debilitating condition.
It also offers tangible advice and tips on dealing with anxiety as well as the recommendation of seeking medical advice when appropriate.

Book Extract


It is not politically correct to use terms like ‘barking mad,’ when describing someone with a mental illness, but it does sum up the reaction you can expect if you are brave enough to admit that you are a sufferer! With that in mind I am writing this account under a pseudonym – and hope that you will find some strength from the knowledge that we all have idiosyncrasies and that it is only the degree to which they affect our lives that separates the ‘normal’ from the ‘mentally ill’.

From the perspective of a ‘normal’ person it is easy to argue the illogical actions of a person who is mentally ill – but from the perspective of someone who is mentally ill it is frustrating and embarrassing to have your inability to carry out perfectly ordinary tasks questioned.

For years I had witnessed family members suffering with ‘bad nerves’ and I became somewhat blasé about it. Although I sympathised and empathised with them I was mainly an ‘outsider’ looking in with only a basic understanding of what they could and could not do. Very little thought actually went into how they really felt – until I, too, began to suffer.

It is with my ‘normal’ views still etched in my memory that I have decided to give an account from both points of view in an effort to shorten the gap between what is regarded as ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’ in relation to mental health.

All names have been changed to protect the identities of all the people portrayed within these pages.


My father had, what was commonly referred to as, a ‘nervous breakdown’ when he was in his fifties. This was my first experience of mental illness and it was confusing.

I must have been very young, because he was 48 when I was born, and my main memory consists of him in the kitchen, washing the dishes, whilst my sister and I argued. I remember his shoulders going up and down and for a moment we thought that he was laughing and began laughing ourselves – only to see him turning to face us in tears.

For a man who always seemed to be in good spirits – and possessed a somewhat dry sense of humour – this shocked and surprised us. I do not remember ever having seen him cry before and felt confused if not a little alarmed.

An older sibling tried to explain that our father was not very well and advised us to give him some space – but we were even more confused by this because he did not look ill. They probably tried to explain further – that he was ill ‘inside’ and it did not show up in the same way as a broken leg – but I really cannot remember because I was too far removed from it to really understand.

That is the problem with mental illness. It often does not produce the same feelings of understanding and compassion as a broken leg or a visible injury.

They are identifiable problems that do not have a stigma attached to them. It is acceptable to admit that you cannot go somewhere because you have a broken leg – but who wants to admit that it is their nerves that makes it difficult for them to get around? Unless you have suffered problems yourself it is very difficult to understand something that is ‘all in the mind’.


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