It’s been a while since I reviewed a non-fiction book. I’m pretty excited about today’s book as I love promoting anything that focuses on mental health. If you are currently going through any mental health struggles, read on; this book might appeal to you.
Start: Life Under a Compulsory Community Treatment Order is by Graham Morgan, who has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained. Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Don’t be fooled by the blurb, this is a wonderfully positive story that shows us that even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives. It also highlights the excellent help that is provided by mental health professionals and, of course, our friends.
Start is a book filled with raw emotion and brutal honesty. This results in a story that doesn’t glamorise mental illness. The reader gets a real idea of what it is like to be sectioned and the impact this can have not only on the person but their friends and family though. What the reader also gets is a deep insight into Graham’s journey. This book is certainly more his thoughts, feelings and musings with life thrown in.
Based on what I just wrote, you may be wondering where the positivity comes into this story. Everywhere. We see moments of strength and courage in every chapter. There is also a final chapter that catches the reader up with Graham some years later when he has been detained again. The reader learns of him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.
I have to admit that this book is not perfect. For me personally, it is hard to follow as it is not really written in chronological order. Also, I can’t decide whether I like the writing style or not. At times it is pretty blunt and I enjoyed that style the most. Other times there is a lot of poetic prose and that is where I struggled. I was sometimes unable to garner what Graham wanted to say in these parts. However, it did make the book more personal to Graham and his story.
Overall, it was an interesting book and I am glad I read it. I feel like I understand how it can feel for people who are sectioned and being able to have that bit more empathy means a successful read for me.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.