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Submitted Literature

Don't Mind Me

By Judith Haire

Review

Judith Haire's autobiography, published by mental health publishing specialists Chipmunkapublsihing, is a brief but moving account of one woman's traumatic childhood, her horrifically abusive first marriage and experience of rape, and her descent into psychosis.

This book is positive and inspiring despite the difficult subject areas it covers, and Haire's focus is very much on recovery and survival. It is this focus that makes it of so much relevance to practising clinicians and students who may see repeated episodes of psychosis as an intractable illness - certainly not something that one can recover from.

Furthermore, her account of psychosis - in particular, her experience of hallucinations, medication and side effects, and the manner in which staff's attitudes impacted upon her mental state - is striking. Haire's depiction of her terrifying experiences inform the reader about far more about how it feels to experience such episodes than can ever be available in a clinical textbook.   

Furthermore, the reader can sense the catharsis that came through writing this book, which Haire acknowledges - a testimony to the value of creative writing if ever there was one.  

 

Key Themes:

  • Domestic Violence
  • Psychosis
  • Rape

Significant Quotes / Pages

15 - "The phone rang and I screamed. I was filled with terror. My heart began to pound and I started to shake. In my confused mind I had become the deaf dumb and blind boy in 'Tommy' a film that had captivated me many years before. I moved my limbs in a stilted and robotic way. I was no longer myself. I was trapped in a different world, the world of psychosis. I was trapped and could not find my way out.

It was 1993 and I was thirty-seven. I was entering a severe psychotic episode and this was to change my life forever. I need to take you back to my beginnings and describe how my life unfolded and how the many traumatic events which befell me made this terrifying illness almost inevitable." 

87 - "I know flames and fires featured a lot in my hallucinations and I have since wondered if all this was a symbolic representation of all the anger I had suppressed in my life. The energy rush of the psychosis was quite incredible - almost orgasmic, but in a sinister sort of way. Some of the imagery will stay in my mind forever, of distorted bodies trapped in a huge net at the bottom of the sea, or the collapse of an oil rig; of Siamese twins and severed limbs. There was also the feeling of travelling at speed on a fast rollercoaster, of being hurled from this rollercoaster at a fairground, of imagining I was pregnant too. Bubbling oil and oil rigs often featured in the hallucinations and the oil rig was on the verge of collapse."

91 - "On another day another nurse was sitting reading a novel and when I asked to speak to her she said she couldn't as she wanted to finish her novel. I could not believe what I heard. The psychiatrists seemed remote and only interested in prescribing medication and telling me that the symptoms I had were all part of the illness, yet they never named the illness or explained what the illness was."

Reference: Judith, Haire. 2008. Don't Mind Me. chipmunkapublishing, 2008

Reviewer

- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Monday 26th April 2010