ISBN: 1 903833 68 X
Copyright: Local Voices 2004
Edited by: Terry Simpson
Illustrated by: Barbara Kirk
Cover Design: Johnny Solstice
Typeset and Printed by: ‘Write Lines In Print’ at Yorkshire Art Circus
Local Voices publication 2004
Eamon Rooney and Julian Turner, who hatched the idea.
Phil Green, who ‘championed’ it.
David Beck, Andy Dubberley, Barbara Dean, Susan Utting and Sarah Radford who helped steer it.
Leeds Joint Planning Special Grants Programme, Leeds City Council, and Yorkshire Arts who funded it.
Jeremy Pritlove and Jane Stubbs who helped with funding.
Jane Williams and Volition who held the money and helped administer it.
Justine Morrison, who proofread it.
Stories have probably been told since humans first began to use language. We tell them every day, when we tell our friends what happened at work, or what we saw when walking home. Our stories weave our social world. They reveal us to each other and to ourselves, and are always particular. The same incident told by a different person becomes a different, unique story.
‘Doorways In The Night’ follows the publication in 2001 by the Mental Health Foundation, of 'Something Inside So Strong' a collection of stories by people who had survived ‘mental health’ difficulties of various kinds. The idea for a local, Leeds version of this, began in a conversation between Eamon Rooney, a worker at Leeds Mind's SHIP Project and a playwright, and Julian Turner the Chief Executive of Leeds Mind, and a poet. In their conversation the idea was born of creating a book of stories by local people, charting the various ways people had come to terms with extreme experiences. Instead of the anonymity of labels, this book would describe the personal impact, and the subjective struggles people had in overcoming them.
Grants from Leeds Joint Planning and Leeds City Council enabled the project to employ a part-time worker and editor to work on publicity, and start collecting stories. A further grant from Yorkshire Arts meant that we could run a series of workshops to stimulate people to write, and help them formulate their stories. Local writers Char March, Mark Catley, Sophie Goodeve, Mary Armitage, Eamon Rooney, Kath McKay and Khadijah Ibraham, ran 13 workshops between November 2003 and June 2004. Not all the stories that follow came from these workshops, but many did, and the workshops stimulated a lively and dedicated group of writers, which will continue after the publication of this book.
Some of the stories are edited forms of work which had already been written out of a necessity to describe and make sense of powerful experiences; some are written by experienced writers who have had work performed on stage and on the radio; others are by people who have previously never written at all. All of the writers had to overcome the immense stigma, which still attaches to ‘mental health’ issues. Two stories were withdrawn when the authors considered the impact they might have. Four people have chosen either not to use their real name, or only part of it.
The result is a collection of individual voices, which speaks of the diversity of human experience, as well as the commonality of all who find themselves lost without maps in the uncharted places of the mind.
Stories have immense power. When Salman Rushdie wrote a story about religion, it provoked world-wide death threats and forced him to go into hiding for many years. The children's book he wrote in exile tells of the attempt by oppressive forces to poison the Sea Of Stories, and bring about a world of silence. Until relatively recently the world of ‘mental health’ services has threatened to be such a world. The medicalisation of mental health has often meant that a label has made a human story irrelevant. The 21 accounts that follow are an attempt to redress that balance.