Suicidal people need so much more than this! We are failing people terribly and it's time to WAKE UP
Updated: Jan 28
I have now written over 200 posts on this blog this year.
My initial intention was to do this so that I could attract the interest of an agent/publisher for my self-help/memoir which I know can help so many people.
But the long and the short of it is that I still haven't managed to get one!
There is not only a serious problem in mental healthcare globally (as I've documented multiple times already; the drugs are feeding the epidemics of mental illness), but a serious problem in the priorities of the world of publishing too!
But that's a whole other story, and I haven't got the energy to go there right now, let's just say that:
People seriously need to WAKE UP!
Suicides are mounting and nothing is being done!
For anyone who doubts that the psychiatric drugs aren't working - take a look at the graph above.
It doesn't take a genius to work it out.
I cannot be bothered to get all technical when the graph is already a slap in the face, but just by way of example and to double slap the doubters; the advent of Prozac which was hailed a miracle drug for depression, was in 1986.
Do the math & look at the graph...
What we're doing is not helping people!!
Christmas and helping the suicidal person
All of these problems are continually reiterated through the fears, worries and desperation that I hear in the voices of those who I help gratuitously to cling onto life through their suicidal crises.
I do this because I know that the support that is out there is massively substandard.
But although I pour out as much advice, hope, and support as I possibly can through my own extensive lived experience, I am continually hitting a road block because I know that these people need so much more that I can offer on the phone.
But the options left to them are decidedly slim
I know that a chaotic mental hospital sectioning is the last thing a suicidal person needs.
All they do is to take away the means that people have to kill themselves, including taking away your shoe laces so you can't hang yourself off a radiator
But how the hell is that plus being watched by an unfeeling healthcare assistant while you take a shower going to help someone who is in severe, brutal and relentless pain and suffering?
And then there's the poisonous drugs that don't target a specific illness and do nothing but mask, numb, and sedate, meaning that the patient can't process any of the trauma, then the side effects and then being trapped on them because they're a NIGHTMARE to withdraw from - don't even get me started on that....
So, apart from continuously speaking and writing about all of this and trying to advise the supporter/carer too (because there is NO advice for them either) what the hell am I supposed to do?
I'm not Mother Theresa - pretty damn close I have to say - but I need people to wake up and help me now....
This all became clear to me as I read Paulo Coelho's amazing book over Christmas 'By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept'.
And by the way, as I've mentioned a million times before - reading is the best thing I do for my mental health - which is why I was mortified this year when a friend's mother said to me:
'Pah! Education? What a waste of time!'
Oh dear God... is this what I'm dealing with? ....
Some people really are going to need a slap in the face to wake them up!
Anyway, all of this just demonstrates why the likes of Paulo Coelho's books are so important and why people really need to start reading them if we are going to collectively do anything to help the multiple crises of environment, Covid, wars, and suicide that are currently going on...
“A scientist who studied monkeys on an island in Indonesia was able to teach a certain one to wash bananas in the river before eating them. Cleansed of sand and dirt, the food was more flavorful. The scientist who did this only because he was studying the learning capacity of monkeys did not imagine what would eventually happen. So he was surprised to see that the other monkeys on the island began to imitate the first one. "And then, one day, when a certain number of monkeys had learned to wash their bananas, the monkeys on all of the other islands in the archipelago began to do the same thing. What was most surprising, though, was that the other monkeys learned to do so without having had any contact with the island where the experiment had been conducted." He stopped. "Do you understand?" "No," I answered. "There are several similar scientific studies. The most common explanation is that when a certain number of people evolve, the entire human race begins to evolve. We don't know how many people are needed but we know that's how it works.”
Ok, I've made my point but what needs to happen?
We need places of comfort that actually offer hope, support, therapy and love for the suicidal person not disturbing 'prisons' that would drive even the sanest person insane.
But I know you will tell me that it's not possible because there's no money and I do agree that we cannot expect the government to keep shelling out - so we are going to have to do something about it ourselves (well I am) and then hope that all the other monkeys start washing their bananas....
So, first of all I need a publisher who isn't going to expect me to pay for the privilege of sharing my own brutal story and painstakingly crafting it into 130.000 words of advice, hope & encouragement - then I need one who also gets the importance of giving back...
I want at least some of the proceeds to go towards setting up a holistic retreat/centre in NATURE that can actually provide HEALING...
Then I want to do a ridiculous fundraising effort - if I have to do it naked to raise the publicity then I'll consider it.
WE need to do something and FAST!!
WAKE the F*** up guys - come on now, I'm done with Mr nice, polite guy who writes pleading emails, synopses, query letters, proposals and submissions to literary agents who don't get this and knock him back repeatedly with standard rejections - people are DYING constantly yet no one even looks up!
Anyway, since I'm feeling particularly spontaneous and am generally in a 'f*** it' mood, I'm going to add part of my book proposal to this blog post and hope by some miracle that a generous and feeling publisher finds ME for a change rather than the other way around!
So here it is...
Anyone with any leads or anything at all then please share and get in touch!
We will lose another 18 people in this country today to suicide and another 400 will make an attempt on their lives....
There are 800,000 suicides a year globally
Please, please - look up, and start washing your bananas.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,
Dying to Stay Alive!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PROPOSED TITLE 2
ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION 3
UNIQUE ANGLES 12
AIMS AND FUTURE GOALS 14
READER BENEFITS 14
COMPETING WORKS 15
POTENTIAL ENDORSERS 18
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 20
AUTHOR PROMOTION 22
PROPOSED OUTLINE AND CHAPTER BREAKDOWN 23
SAMPLE CHAPTER 40 - 48
Dying to Stay Alive!
The title of this book captures the reality of a twenty-year battle to survive the brutal effects of severe bipolar disorder.
There is more than one way to interpret these four words since the author was desperate to cling on to life but felt as though he was dying physically in his bid to hold on. He had to effectively die before finally recovering and coming back to life with a completely different perspective.
Not only does ‘Dying to Stay Alive!’ have multiple meanings, but the message within the book is also multi-faceted since it combines a candid story, illustrated with real-time blog posts, self-help, and the profound change often effected through prolonged and deep suffering.
This is an unusual approach because the author documented the progression of the illness with introspection, both ‘in the moment’ and post recovery. This offers the reader a true insight into the full scale of a life-threatening mental illness as well as offering a cathartic benefit as the story unfolds.
A searingly honest combined self-help & memoir of survival, remission, and recovery from severe bipolar disorder.
Mental Illness / Mental Health / Survival & Recovery/ Mind, Body & Spirit/ Non-fiction
Primary: The 300 million people who are currently living with severe depression and bipolar disorder in the world today.
Secondary: The other 600 million people globally, who are suffering from mental illness, their supporters, and carers, as well as anyone else looking to gain insight into the reality of living with severe mental illness.
Tertiary: Those with an interest in mind, body & spirit resources; how prolonged and deep suffering can effect a profound change in those who survive it.
Everyone has had, or will have to, suffer from emotional challenges or trauma at some point in their lives. These challenges can often lead to the development of mental health problems. In today’s world these are being accentuated by some of the issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With 6 million Britons taking out a prescription for antidepressants in just a three-month period of last year, and with 400 suicide attempts a day occurring in the U.K alone, the importance of a searingly frank and uplifting account of survival, remission, and recovery from severe mental illness cannot be overstated.
This is the story of one gifted, young, international equestrian, seemingly with the world at his feet, who battled the horrors of a bipolar illness, so brutal, that it took every ounce of persistence, resilience, and determination to survive.
Never did I imagine that I would succumb to the horrors of a catastrophic mental illness. I had a happy and privileged childhood and was blessed with a wide range of interests and opportunities. So, it was impossible to understand when, in my early twenties, I began to feel so dejected and disconnected from everything and everyone around me.
The feeling of guilt I experienced in that first episode of depression was almost enough to kill me on its own. The discrepancy between the logical mind ‘I have everything I could ever want and/or need’, and the depressed mind ‘I hate myself, there are people starving in the world, I should be grateful, how dare I feel this way’, only accentuated and intensified the self-reproach. I believe that this ‘internal fight’ combined with the brutal symptoms of depression itself, accounts for many of the suicides that occur in the early development of both bipolar and other depressive illnesses.
Educating myself in how not to attach guilt or shame to my feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred was one of the first steps I took in negating the ‘inner critic’ and taking back some control over my illness. This is what both society and sufferers need to understand – there is no shame in depression and other mental disorders – they are devastating illnesses, which in many cases are life-threatening, and need to be taken extremely seriously.
My bipolar illness manifested itself when I was competing internationally as an equestrian in the sport of three-day eventing. Through perpetually hitting the dopamine high of sporting success one minute, and then crashing down with a lame Olympic horse the next, a destructive pattern of euphoria and depression had been created.
This repetitive cycle which dominated my moods, thoughts, feelings, and emotions, decimated my attempts to succeed, by ruthlessly ripping a hole through my ambitions. This left me, time and again, in a pit of turmoil and despair as I had to accept the heart-breaking losses: horses, owners, competitions, sponsorships and opportunities, as well as everything else I’d worked so hard to create. This was then further accentuated by a swathe of destructive relationships as partners came and went, friends misunderstood and moved on, and family members misinterpreted my suffering as wilful disengagement. In retrospect, these disastrous relationships and harmful dalliances were a root cause of the illness, something which I discuss and then reconcile with at the end of the book.
Resurrecting myself at every possible opportunity to qualify as a journalist, hang on to remaining friends and relationships, and rebuild my equestrian enterprise, I then suffered the heartbreak of losing everything again when the illness returned with a vengeance. Years went by with only brief interludes of partial wellness, interspersed with prolonged periods of merciless suffering. I was reduced to someone who was ‘dying to stay alive’ in bed for months at a time, suffering the horrific side effects of the failed treatments, which often worsened my symptoms and left me with an even greater sense of hopelessness and despair.
Eventually, survival took precedence over competing and, sacrificing every dream and personal ambition, I embarked on what would turn out to be a double decade psychiatric nightmare as I trialled virtually every treatment available on the NHS, and then suffered the consequences of side effects, misdiagnosis, treatment-created symptoms, withdrawal problems, medical mistakes, and disasters.
I have witnessed, and suffered from, the shortcomings of the National Health Service, presently available for treating mental illness in the U.K which, at the current time, does absolutely nothing to help those who reach out for support. It is a system which treats its patients with only one directive; to numb and sedate them with as many brain disabling drugs as possible. The attempts to break them into submission as opposed to offering informed consent, and then putting them into ‘clinical handcuffs’ for the remainder of their lives is questionable, as is locking these people up in the first place.
Having always believed that the NHS would get me better, I stuck with the offered treatments, withstood the chaos of the psychiatric wards, and battled the myriad of drug side effects and withdrawal problems, until things got so horrific that I realised that this approach was never going to benefit me in any way.
Having stuck with the NHS for sixteen years of my illness, this psychiatric nightmare culminated in a ketamine infusions fiasco which backfired so spectacularly that it very nearly cost me my life. After being propelled into a psychiatric hospital as a result of the treatment, I then spent the next three months in the most frenzied and disorganised environment imaginable, after which I was left totally demoralised, dejected and alone, hurtling towards suicidal depression again without any advice or support for what to do next. I walked across the front lawn of the Warneford Hospital in Oxford and said to myself ‘I will never come back here as a patient. This place cannot help me. If I am to survive this, I will have to find another way’.
I spent the next eighteen months suffering from the after-effects of a ketamine damaged brain and a psychologically scarred and fractured mind. I had planned my exit quite thoroughly; my feet having carried me to the site of my future suicide several times already.
I was going to hang myself from an oak tree in the garden and had mapped out even the minutest of details: the horse lunge rope I would use (which would be a poignant reference to my former career and a suitably appropriate and lethal device), the ladder I would need to get up there, the tying of the noose, swigging down a bottle of cheap vodka, and texting my location to the police to spare my parents the trauma of finding my lifeless swinging corpse.
But fate intervened, and for some unexplained reason a voice told me that I should delay the curtain call for now and cling on for a bit longer. Knowing that the medical profession couldn’t help me, I resisted the strong temptation to self-medicate with drink and drugs and instead resorted to challenging my own thinking by reading self-help and mind management resources as a form of ‘bibliotherapy’.
Miraculously, I resisted the deep longing to permanently end things for long enough that when a friend begged me to see a private Harley Street doctor in the spring of 2019 who, she informed me, was using a novel and exciting approach, I was able to get there just in the nick of time and start treatment via a more hopeful route.
Eight months of treatment with a combination of high dose thyroid hormones and rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation), an empty bank account, an enormous debt to my parents, and a huge amount of persistence later, I slowly began to emerge from an illness that had dominated my life for the last two decades.
There has been a large amount of scarring and psychological damage that I have had to process and reconcile with, as well as grief for what could otherwise have been a very productive life. But the overriding and resounding feeling is one of gratitude for having another chance to live and achieve; to the doctor who helped to get me better, and to my parents, whose love and support were so instrumental in saving my life.
I have discovered depths of resilience and determination in my own character that I didn’t previously know existed and, after all this time, I am finally able to say that I am back to the true and authentic version of myself.
A combination of educating myself, making life-style changes, and receiving the thyroid treatment that gave me the foundation to help myself further, has brought me to the content and relaxed version of myself that exists today. I enjoy the simplest aspects that life has to offer, and the experience of intense suffering has given rise to a deep connectedness with nature, and a profound and long-lasting positive change.
Nothing now matters except helping my friends and the millions of other people to survive and recover from these horrifying mental illnesses.
This book is the beginning of an enormous campaign and effort that I intend to embark on in my mission to demonstrate that recovery from even some of the severest forms of mental illness is possible. My story provides the information, and I very much hope, the inspiration to save people from suicide and bring them back to the authentic, capable, confident, and productive versions of themselves.
The treatment that brought me to remission is being presented globally at the World Psychiatric Association 21st World Congress of Psychiatry by the doctor who treated me, Andy Zamar MBBCh, LRCP, MRCS, MRCP, Gaskell Gold Medal & Prize, RCP.
To coincide with this momentous and pioneering medical breakthrough I have documented the full details of my own horrific bipolar battle to educate the psychiatric profession, and spare future ‘Tom’s’ the heartbreak, suffering, and pain that I have had to withstand and endure for the last twenty years.
The book will be dedicated to two of my friends who tragically took their own lives while suffering from bipolar depression. Their devastating deaths made writing the book seem especially important and was an enormous motivation for completing it.
Mental ‘health’ and mental ‘illness’ have two entirely different meanings; one is part of what is called ‘being human’, and the other one is killing people.
It is important to make the distinction between the two since both society and governments today still mix them up. This is reflected by the fact that although there has been an increase in mental health education, suicide rates and diagnoses of mental illness continue to rise alarmingly.
At any given time 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms of mental ill-health and an estimated 762 million people worldwide are affected by mental health issues. Experts have even predicted a ‘tsunami of psychiatric illness’ in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suicide is now a major public health concern with 800,000 people taking their own lives globally each year; the knock-on effect that runs through families and friends is truly horrifying.
As a sufferer of severe bipolar disorder, a crippling disorder of mood which catastrophises the lives of 46 million people globally, these statistics mean more to me than meaningless numbers. 1 out of every 5 sufferers of bipolar disorder chooses suicide to remove themselves from the terrifying rollercoaster of euphoric highs and devastating lows; it is a horrendous illness which is almost impossible to withstand, let alone recover from.
It is for this reason that ‘Dying to Stay Alive!’ has been written, because although it took two decades of patience, resilience & determination to hang on by the fingernails and survive the horrors of an illness which brought me to the brink of suicide on multiple occasions, I am miraculously, fully well again.
This book incites a unique and important discussion in which the reader is taken on a journey through a real-life story; from public school golden boy with a talent for equestrianism & touted for Olympic glory, to a desperate path of hopelessness and repeated pattern of destruction caused by the devastation of a shattering mental illness.
Interspersed in this deeply personal and brutally honest story are the strategies I adopted in my battle to survive and recover.
It is rare for someone with a severe case of bipolar disorder to not only reclaim a fully functioning life, but also to have the ability to write effectively. I have written a book with five objectives: to provide the hope, guidance, understanding, education, and inspiration that is so desperately needed by patients, medical professionals, and families looking to help and support their loved ones.
A rare combination of original blog extracts and self-analysis have been used to illustrate an open and honest first-hand account of the path through the illness as it was happening.
‘Dying to Stay Alive!’ goes further than straightforward ‘confessional memoir’ because it also explores the profound change which can often be prompted by deep and prolonged suffering. ‘Mind, Body & Spirit’ books have been shown to appeal to an even wider audience and this is also incorporated within the text.
This book also covers a wide range of mainstream therapies and medications which I tried and endured; from the pernicious effects of antidepressant medications which only ever induced panic, fear, and suicidal thoughts, to the ketamine infusions fiasco that nearly cost me my life, and finally, the pioneering treatment, not currently offered by the National Health Service, which miraculously brought me to full remission.
The story covers the repeated pattern of devastating lows and manic highs; my mood, at first, mimicking the ups and downs that so often accompany the life of a professional athlete, and then, morphing into an extremely serious and life-threatening disorder. Destructive relationships and material losses only confounded the effects of the illness as it took hold of me and tightened its grip.
Threaded into the narrative are alternating chapters detailing the steps I took to regain my confidence; how I rejected the guilt and shame, used positive statements of truth, breathing techniques, cold water therapies, and challenged my own mind through bibliotherapy, as well as many other useful strategies and techniques. I have imparted as much information as possible to provide the reader with every tool and chance of making a full recovery.
This compelling story tackles a range of contentious themes including: the current ‘drug-treatment only’ and substandard NHS mental healthcare system, the appalling lack of acceptance and education of mental illness in society, and the problems of iatrogenesis and doctor-driven harm in the field of psychiatry. This is something my current doctor can attest to, since the NHS wrote to him and told him that my condition was ‘treatment resistant’ and that I was essentially beyond help. It also provides many further discussion points, and much for the reader to think about and digest.
Throughout 2021, I have also painstakingly documented a significant amount of advice and support on my blog that has already helped and inspired many people. I am passionate about highlighting the issues, supporting my fellow patients, and campaigning for change in the approach to treatment and support of those living with debilitating mental illness.
In writing ‘Dying to Stay Alive!’ I have learnt that it is possible, even in the absolute depths of severe mental illness, to recover, reach remission, and reclaim a full and productive life.
Bipolar disorder is killing people every day, it is mostly a long, torturous, and lonely battle, where the only way out is taking your own life, but this book proves otherwise.
I think it is imperative that this message reaches other sufferers to provide hope and encouragement around an otherwise complicated, incurable, and often misunderstood disorder.
In this book the author:
· Presents his own lived experience of mental illness in a brutally honest and insightful way.
· Brings illumination and understanding to an otherwise misunderstood and complicated disorder.
· Demonstrates the importance of sacrificing everything to survive a severe illness as well as the courage to start again.
· Allows the reader to enter the mind of a suicidal person which elicits understanding and education for helping future generations.
· Illustrates the survival process through deep introspection and real-time blog entries.
· Discusses the current mental health system and opens a conversation about how this now needs our undivided focus and attention when considering the care of future generations.
· Raises important questions over the current pharmacological or ‘drug centred’ approach to treating mental illness.
· Addresses the problems and dangers of addiction, dependence, and development of mental illness from both recreational and psychotropic drugs.
· Discusses the importance of a holistic approach to treating mental illness which incorporates spiritual, emotional, and intellectual needs.
· Explores the link between spirituality and mental illness
· Provides future generations with a historical account of the treatment of severe and resistant depression and bipolar disorder since the turn of the 21st century.
· Provides the reader with a detailed account of the treatment that finally brought the author into full remission from mental illness.
· Discusses potential root causes of mental illness; how trauma, suffering, and emotional damage can contribute to their early expression.
· Explores the profound change which can occur after experiencing deep and prolonged suffering.
AIMS AND FUTURE GOALS
To campaign along with my Harley Street psychiatrist for the pioneering rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) and high dose thyroid treatment to be rolled out onto the NHS and then subsequently, on a global scale.
To fundraise to set up a ‘Tom’s Place’ in memory of my friend Tom Searle who sadly took his own life when suffering at the hands of severe depression. This will be a foundation that provides the support and hope for those in suicidal crisis, which was sadly lacking for both Tom, myself, and many others, and as a model for the future approach to treating mental illness.