Posted 20 hours ago

Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing

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One of the most brilliant travel writers of our day takes us us now to that most challenging country, severe mental illness; and does so with such wit, warmth, and humanity, that, better acquainted with its terrors, we may better face our own' Reverend Richard Coles

Heavy Light by Horatio Clare | Waterstones Heavy Light by Horatio Clare | Waterstones

What to say? The description of this mans “ journey into madness” is so real it’s amazing. Written so well.Heavy Light is the story of a a journey through mania, psychosis and treatment in a psychiatric hospital, and onwards to release, recovery and healing.

Heavy Light by Horatio Clare | Book review | The TLS Heavy Light by Horatio Clare | Book review | The TLS

Many people make time to talk with him when asked afterwards about his experience, their involvement in it, or with our approach more generally to mental illness - from the Chief Superintendent of police in the area and NHS management, to those trialling new strategies or critiquing old ones, to a ward nurse and the social worker who effected his section. It was particularly interesting to hear of his interactions with Andrea Jenkyns MP which provide a distinctly mixed picture of political involvement in the mental health arena. Like 2018’s In a Poem Unlimited, Heavy Light is a sideways look at the history of pop music and the capitalist world in which it thrives. What’s different here is how it sounds, and how it feels. These songs capture the watershed moment when your throat closes up, your head cools off, and your tears run dry: It is when you enter what can only be described as a zone of weightless grief. It’s dense, heady, hard to grasp, but that’s what makes her music so rich. Remy casts herself as a pop star and reflects on the traumas of childhood and earth through parables and the music we grew up on.

The second half is incredibly engaging. Clare describes everything in a way that makes it easy to relate to, or to sympathise with, or at least to understand, from both his perspective and those around him. Parts of his experience, I could definitely feel myself relating to. In particular, the moment when he is in the gallery, when he feels like everyone around him knows he is from the psychiatric hospital, that everyone is hyperaware of him. Same feelings, different reasons for them. And when he goes on to talk about how he will not let the breakdown define him, that resonated deeply with me. I will define myself, not let those things that others see as 'abnormal' define me. Erasing the line between normal and abnormal, and the sentiment of healing, not curing, is something I think needs to be better taken onboard.

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