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

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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