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Submitted Literature

Finding Jericho

By Dave Jeffrey

Review

Dave Jeffrey, novelist and mental health worker, has created a fantastic text that is useful for adolescents who are either carers or service users themselves.  Narrated by Jon, recently bereaved and moved to a different part of the country with accompanying problems of being the ‘new kid’, who learns about the complexities of mental health problems first hand through the illness of his Uncle Ron.  Jon is bullied due to Ron’s illness – other children at the school talk of illness being catching, a common misconception.  The appearance of the manic Ron at the funeral of Jon’s stepfather captures the idiosyncrasies of Bipolar Affective Disorder wonderfully well – the combination of sadness, embarrassment and amusement that Jon feels as his ‘human peacock’ uncle invades the solemn affair with his own unique brand of manic eulogy and mourning is hilariously portrayed.  Of note, the publishers, chipmunkapublishing, specialise in texts created by and for service users and their website is worth a visit.

Key Themes:

  • Bipolar Affective Disorder
  • Carer Issues
  • Childhood / Adolescence
  • Revealing Reads

Significant Quotes / Pages

294-5 – “So it is with madness.  If we only see behaviour then we forgo the person.  No matter what we choose to call those with mental illness, nutters, head-bangers, psychos, crazies, idiots, to name but a few, never forget these are not, and never will be, terms of endearment.  There isn’t any affection attached to such labels, only brands that serve to de-humanise and isolate.

But why did it happen?  Why, at the mere sight of a person with mental illness, are rational and considered individuals suddenly reduced to baying dogs in the street?  It took a long time to come up with a simple answer, nothing scares people like madness.  Up to a point I can see why it is easy to dupe the masses into considering madness and illness since so many abhor its touch, lest they, too, become contaminated.

But here lies the paradox, we simply cannot become infected by mental illness through its potential is forever within; we carry it seemed like some dormant parasite, which waits for the right conditions, the right stresses to nudge it from its benign slumber.  We cannot escape this notion and we would be full stride.

Those who live in darkness ever crave the light.  So those who survive the terrible afflictions, which cripple the mind, need hope to steer them through the wreckage of a life that once was.  If we all turn away, if we only turned back in order to mark, then we lose more than just the opportunity to learn, to understand or offer comfort.  We also lose our humanity and the will to accept what is.  Yet those who endure mental illness abhor token pity as much as insult and derision, preferring, instead, a hand that hauls them from the Tempest, but offers them means gain empowerment, self-respect and social inclusion.  Without this mental health survivors will continue to be the pariah in a world that has stalled in its duty.”

Reference: Dave, Jeffrey. 2008. Finding Jericho. Brentwood: Chipmunkapublishing, 2008

Reviewer

- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Friday 20th March 2009