Monday, 6 January 2014

Art & catastrophe, & BBC Alba documentary, repeated on 6 and 13 January

The BBC Alba 'Toxic Tiredness' documentary from January 2012 is being repeated tonight at 9pm*. The Gaelic parts are, of course, subtitled. I previously blogged about both episodes here (part one) and here (part two). I appear in episode one right at the beginning looking like a bag lady, with my usually rather funky prescription sunglasses - they filmed us at weird angles outside for a few shots, the effect is alienating and disorienting, maybe that was the intention. And then at approx - 2.30, 7:30, 13, 18:30, 24, 29, 40:50 and 48 mins (I talk about the novel here and read an extract).

And Professor Peter Behan, the consultant neurologist who diagnosed me in 1983/84, appears in episode two, 35 mins in. He is magnificent. I especially liked:

  '... there is an essential biochemical component to the illness which needs to be elucidated, and research should be along the grounds into these illnesses rather than dealing with psychological talk the talk nonsense'

Dr Charles Shepherd  of the ME Association - also diagnosed by Peter Behan -  makes a great contribution too (though I don't necessarily agree with *everything* he says). The early-mid eighties was still a hard time to get a diagnosis, it took me almost 18 months, but  the psychobabble that we know today was yet to reach its dizzying heights of obfuscation -  this conflation of  serious neuroimmune illness with 'chronic fatigue' has, as we know only too well, done untold damage. We can only hope that science is now progressing, albeit slowly, unfettered by the hijackers. Here's to some decent biomedical research in 2014.

* Part 1 repeated Tuesday 7th at 10pm and soon on iPlayer


And I came across these wonderful photos by Penny Clare the other day on the Centre for Medical Humanities blog. She took them while severely affected and bedridden. I particularly like A fingernail celebrates New Year (I don't want to breach copyright so am not posting any photos here).

 More of Penny's photos can be seen on the excellent Phoenix Rising site.

For me, these photos highlight the link between creativity and illness, we are 'forced' by the illness into places we never knew we would go. We are still ourselves but catastrophe has given us a different way of expression. I often think of my novel/fiction as  my response to catastrophe. Writing often is.


Anonymous said...

interesting what you say about your writing being a response to catastrophe. I was talking to my daughter about my bi-polar and she said she didn't think there was any effective treatment for it. I said surely I was much better than I had been when she was little. She agreed with me but it was clear that she felt I was not back to 100%.I suspect she meant that I was not working full time etc. If I had been completely cured I would have gone back to work 9-5 and I would never have learnt to write fiction or done an MA and PhD in Creative Writing and I certainly would not have written a novel. So, yes, my response to catastrophe (and there were times in my life when bi-polar came close to having a catastrophic effect on my circumstances)has been writing. And I like it. xx

nmj said...

Hey Belle, ... I can't imagine now *not* writing, even though my output is hardly prolific. It is what keeps me sane - I always have words banging together in my head - through the chaos & hell of ME. I am so glad that writing has helped you too. x