Published October 10th by Fledgling Press
‘…humane, valuable, and, in an important sense, deeply sane.’
With an MBE for services to mental health, Graham Morgan helped createthe Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the act under which he is now detained.
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently. Painful and evocative, he does not gloss over or glamorize mental illness: he tries to show the devastating impact mental illness can have on both those with the illness and those that are close to them.
However, his story is a positive one, rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly. He shows that even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals.
‘If I could summon an ounce of integrity I would rid the world of something like me, and yet I don’t. I relish the company of my friends, the luxury of my bed, the commitment of my work. I relish it so much that I ignore, as best I can, what I really am.’
About the Author
Graham Morgan was born in York in 1963. He attended university in Sheffield, where he was first admitted to a psychiatric hospital. After failing his final exams,he helped set up ‘McMurphy’s,’ a drop-in centre run by young people with mental health problems. Shortly after his son was born, he was sectioned and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Between 1992 and 2015 he created numerous mental health advocacy groups, mainly in Lothian and the Highlands; he also participated in the work of the Millan Committee and the McManus Review leading to the 2003 and 2017 Scottish Mental Health Acts. He was awarded an MBE for services to mental health, was made joint service user contributor of the year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2012, and has spoken about mental illness to the United Nations.
He now lives in Argyll with his new family and works for the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland. He has been under a compulsory community treatment order for the last 9 years but enjoys a vibrant life centred around his partner and her children, the natural world, and seaglass hunting.
Praise for Start
“Graham Morgan’s Start is a remarkable and engrossing read. It buttonholed me and held my attention with its fervour, modesty, wit, self-questioning, its generosity amid corrosive fear, loss and pain. As a story through depression and psychosis and family dramas, I found it absorbing and funny, terrifying and celebratory. It is lyrical about love and being in the world, while being truly frightening. It’s fresh and direct, unguarded and brave. It made me wince and chuckle.
Yes, it’s a story about living with mental illness, but what I get from it is a sense of connection, that this is an extreme end of a spectrum we all to some extent live on, and as such it is profoundly moving and insightful. It is humane, valuable, and in an important sense deeply sane.”
Andrew Greig, author of Electric Brae, That Summer, Fair Helen and others.
“This is a moving, tender-hearted memoir that leads us, gently, into the shocking world of the mental health system. Graham Morgan is a consummate story teller, who shows us what it means to be brave, humane, funny and, above all, loving.”
Mandy Haggith, author of The Walrus Mutterer, Bear Witness and others.
“START took me by surprise. It is so gently and easily written – like listening to a conversation – but the simple words are infused with feelings that gradually reveal themselves – like the narrative itself – and they crept up on me – took me unawares. So I found myself unexpectedly moved to tears by simple descriptions of the people in Graham’s life who love him –even though in fact he says very little about them.
This story is about as many different things as there are people who will read it. I have not lived with the nightmare of having a diagnosis of schizophrenia and so cannot possibly identify with that experience. But I identified with so much else that is in Graham’s story: love, friendship, kindness, hugs and human contact. But what makes this such a powerful and complex story for me, is that Graham’s struggle to understand his own identity and place in his world, is confined within this diagnosis that questions and challenges everything we think we know about truth and reality.
A wonderful story. Simply written, powerful in its emotional impact, exploring all the important things that connect us together, make us feel loved and secure, and help us to understand our place in the world.
Frances Simpson, CEO Support in Mind Scotland.
For a copy or to talk to Graham Morgan or for an interview, please contact
Tel: 0131 657 281