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‘I'm With Her’ - an Eleanor Longden inspired poem.

November 1, 2016

The bio-medical model narrative  

of diagnosing,  labeling , medicating & pathologizing  



Is fast becoming the general accepted understanding around mental health  



A woman called Eleanor Longden in her famous Ted talk tells her story  

Of misdiagnosis  

Of not being heard 

Of being completely missed ... 


She says ... 

The main question in psychiatry shouldn't be  

'what's wrong with you?'  

It should be ... 

'what happened to you.?' 







& I'm with her  

Like - 'not on the fence ' 

cause surely mental health IS 

linked to experience 

so often a direct  


of trauma, of oppression  

& I don’t know about you  

but I'm getting the impression  

that we've been being tricked  

Like - really - good and proper  


that the these problems  

tells us  

-about Us-   

 About who WE ARE 

rather than what it was  

that actually carved the scar 



You see ...we're 

..fooled into thinking  

its about biology  


& intrinsic to identity  



They tell us that  'its in our genes' 

instead of being in the scenes 

of what happened to us  

that play out on repeat sometimes  

You know .. 

the ones we don't mention too much  



Our Great grandmothers..... 

Look - some of  

our GREAT grandmothers were incarcerated, locked away,  

for years and years  

Left to decay  



sometimes shackled in metal vices  



of their brains 

were cut out  

to 'exorcise' 

the threat 

& yes this meant 

they sometimes 

would forget  

the horrors  

but it also meant they would  


forget their names 



Our Grandmothers...... 

I guess  

It won't come as a surprise that  

large numbers of our  

grandmothers were tranquillized,  

pretty much sedated 

& this equated  

to a kind of 'half life' 

often for their entire life. 

& when this didn't quite sort them out 'make them sane' 

they may well have been strapped down  

whilst electricity was shot into  

their brain 



Our Mothers.......  

and many of our mothers were  

flooded with old school anti-depressants  

Mass unnecessary womb extractions     

and  reactions 

to instant hormones  

Meant a detour   

around that mid-life  

rite of passage  

that may have brought them home 



and as for our sisters, as for ourselves  

 - well, we are labelled and  


disorders allocated  

often accumulated 

‘cause there's no shortage of diagnostic criteria  

to explain any deliria,  

or otherwise  

honestly - you’d be surprised  

there's a disorder for everyone 

& if YOU haven't been diagnosed yet 

you just haven't been in the  

wrong place 

saying the wrong things  

to the wrong people  

at the wrong time  



arbitrary luck, nothing else  

‘cause I promise -  

there is a disorder for everyone  

It's in the book   

(the dsm5)  

this is the place from where they all derive  

All squashed in  

hundreds of them - (all planned  ) 

as supply and demand  

doesn't work too well 

without the demand bit  

so our 'disorder' has to fit 

we need the pills to cure it  

cure us , 

be our defence  

chemical compounds of modern science  

that conveniently turn off  

or tone down  

our emotions  

Our feelings  



& pharmaceuticals profit SO much they're   

a-wheeling & a-dealing  

With governments 

Dictating policy 

Is this not an atrocity ? 

that drug companies have ANY say    

In the big decisions of the day  



& I really know I'm ranting now  

but - here's the thing ...  


subtly ... 

hidden away  

underneath the shiny surfaced 

campaigns of the day 

of 'mental health awareness raising' 

that are SO effectively 


over the point 

over the pain 

We find more of the same  

( more of the same ) 

Hidden away is more of the same  

excuse the pun 


this is sending me insane  



Cus now , even the good ones  

are having a try, 

you know - the likes of  

Ruby Wax & good old Stephen Fry  

sadly still perpetuating all the toxic lies  

& generally doing a great job  

of using celebrity status to  



So we all get to believing that's 

it IS about us  

"mental health is like physical health!"  ... 

and alongside that-  


a belief that it's part of identity  

so part of me - the heart of ME 

that isn't going away 

 it's here to stay 

needs to be managed, 


Needs to be chemically explained. 


& ...  

- where exactly is this 'Rethink '  

and what is it  ‘Time To Change?’ 

essentially precisely nothing is being rearranged  

I just see a continuation 

of the same old, 

same old shit 





I see confusion & delusion 

collusion with social control  

& where the hell in all of this is  

oppressions role ? 

Traumas role ?  



It's not getting a look in 

Let alone  being explored  

So all of OUR stories join those the millions of others that  

have been conveniently ignored 



Cos TRAUMA  can't be relevant 

It's too much of a threat 

TO the general scheme of things  

Instead we should forget  

Forget ..About what's happened , and put it down to genes  

to 'chemical chaos ' 

'predispositions ' 

& The biological machine  


U know.. 

Eleanor Longden wasn't EVER asked about what had happened to her 

About any of her past  

They just said she had an illness a kind of broken brain  

And that this explained the voices  

And the corresponding pain  


..'diagnosed' with schizophrenia   

& written off  as hopeless case ,  

& yes u may be thinking this is an  

'absolute disgrace ' 

But it isn't  an exception 

her story is the norm ..  

She just stumbled on rare Doctor who happened to not conform  



And In her amazing Ted talk  

Eleanor Longden says that... 

The main question  shouldn't be  

'what's wrong with you?'  

It should be ... 

'what happened to you.?' 




- Jo Watson











Jo Watson is a psychotherapist, trainer who is passionate about challenging the theme of ‘diagnosis and disorder’. Jo believes that the primary cause of mental distress is experience not biology and that the language of disorder needs to be replaced with a more positive, trauma informed narrative. Jo started the Facebook group ‘Counsellors discuss’ earlier this month and is committed to promoting this debate in professional and non professional circles alike.  


You can follow Jo on twitter here







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