When I first told a friend about my ideas for Plastic Spoon Books – writings for, by and about those struggling with mental health or emotional well-being – he said, “Ah, so you’re suggesting that the lunatics take over the asylum?”
I smiled, as I shook my head gently.
“No mate, I’m suggesting that the lunatics take over the asylum and the printing press and the whole fucking media. And, I’ll tell you this – they already have! It’s just a question of asking which particular lunatics we want running the joint.”
He smiled and offered me another can.
“No thanks, mate. I’ll be up all night.”
As it happened, I was up all night. Up all night thinking about this place.
Plastic Spoon exists because it has to, because it cannot be right that those who are regarded as the experts in areas of mental health, emotional well-being and so on are those who have kept themselves together well enough to earn their qualifications. I’m not against learning and decent education – not at all. But what I am against is the idea that someone suffering with depression would have nothing useful to tell us about happiness, that an Aspie dealing with sensory overload couldn’t teach us a thing or two about communication, or that addicts are not the people best-placed to teach us about addiction.
If I was struggling with insomnia, I guess there would be two people I would want to hear from. Firstly, sure, I’d want to hear from the expert who knew about decent sleep habits, the body clock and so on.
But, I’d sure as hell also want to hear from the insomniac who had battled poor sleep for 2 or 3 decades. I would want to learn from them what has and hasn’t worked for them. I’d want to find out what theories they had tested and proven false. And, perhaps more than anything, I’d want to hear how they coped when they just couldn’t cope any more.
It’s that last line that really sums things up at PS. It’s not that we’re about providing company for our misery. It is more that very often the thing that helps you move forward, even if just one small step, is not some Authority from out-side the trenches barking orders in your direction. It’s that guy marching next to you, or that person with the torch one footprint in front of you, or even someone behind following your lead, with a gentle hand on your shoulder.
We are butchering out metaphors here, but I hope you get the point. And, if you do, feel free to tell us what it is!
Put it like this: If this was primarily a “self-help” or “personal development” site, you would find us recommending books on abstinence from people who had never touched a drop of alcohol in their life. Or, perhaps at best, used to battle alcoholism, but had “overcome” it. (There’s a tasteless practice in some places where people will only ever talk about their problems if it is to “share” how they found victory and are no longer the scum-bag that you unfortunately still appear to be! Church is a wonderful place to encounter this self-masturbatory ritual.)
Instead, we at Plastic Spoon would like to hear from those who are still struggling with their drink. How do they manage to still have good days? What have they learned about their bad days? Is abstinence something they are even interested in? And, in the interests of full disclosure, what is it about the bad days that draws them in and drowns out the good?
Is this a healthy way to talk? I don’t know. We’ll see. But I do know that far too many people are being ostracised and ignored and failed, both by the establishment and the general public, because they are not quite polished enough to be taken seriously.
So, we are trying out an experiment, in light of the fact that the alternative seems to have failed time and time again. Let’s cut the crap. I don’t care if you wear a tailored suit or a potato sack, work as a GP or sex-worker, speak at international conferences, or hear voices in your head… you’re going through some shit. I know it and you know it. We all know it, because it is the human condition.
Mental health is not a binary condition. Emotional well-being is not a gene that you either have or you do not. We are all going through some shit. We have all been through some shit. And we all have shit to share.
Welcome to Plastic Spoon.