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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

The Journey home

by Nicholson, Lorraine

on 31/03/2011

Price: £23.50

Published: Jan 2011

Format: book

No Pages: 159 pages


ISBN-13: 0000000000000

Category: Biographical

 I first met Lorraine Nicholson when she  spoke at a meeting of the Scottish Division of the Royal College of Psychiatrists . She gave a memorable account of her experience of mental illness( in her case a severe and lengthy depressive illness) and of her “recovery journey”. She refers to giving this talk as a “personal milestone” on her website . The presentation allowed Lorraine to amply demonstate her obvious artistsic gifts and their role in her recovery. Lorraine is generous in her praise of those nurses and doctors (GP and psychiatrist) who facilitated her recovery and clearly sees mainstream  psychiatric and medical services as important. She is equally clear however that full recovery involved much more than  taking tablets or engaging in therapy. The love and support of family ,especially her mother, and friends were central in allowing her to regain confidence,increase her resilience, and to help her express herself through her art and writing in a way which helped her complete recovery.

This book is the product of both her illness and her recovery. It is a collection of Lorraine’s poetry,artwork and photography. It is  beautifully produced and contains within its pages stories and images expressing the range of emotions experienced in  the depths of illness and on the  recovery journey. The book is  full of hope and completely devoid of bitterness.It resounds with the message that things can be different. Even in the poem entitled “Arrested Under Section” describing her detention, this emerges:

          “Never give up Hope

          There are two ends to every tunnel

          It’s just sometimes you have to go through Hell to find Heaven”


The author talks about the “opportunity “ of illness. In the introduction she writes “ The second chance at life that my illness has afforded is to me a privileged opportunity which this work is part of”, and in what follows she ably illustrates that what she is now would not have been possible without her experience of illness.


Another crucial element in this journey is the way in which the author takes responsibilty for herself, there is a real feeling of her  gradually assuming responsibility as she became able to do so and the importance of allowing those recovering from mental illness to do this stands out.


Lorraine’s recovery was not  a smooth one. There have been relapses but the experience of having recovered made her more robust   and able to see that relapse didn’t mean “being back to square one”.


For  psychiatrists, especially those  who have never themselves been depressed, anything which increases our knowledge of our patients’ inner world is  valuable. This book certainly does that. It adds to our knowledge of  things outside of medicine which are essential, and help complete recovery for those we treat. This book should be read by many doctors , nurses, patients and carers alike. It is an uplifting book  which could usefully be left lying around any in patient  or outpatient facility. Lorraine’s journey continues. She is now about to start studying time based media at Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee,further evidence that there can be life and hope after severe mental illness.


Tom Brown

Consultant Psychiatrist

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