2009 and 2013 – Two Critical Years of My Life in Photos…

Here are photographs to take you through some of the moments of two years of my life, 2009 and 2013.  These two years were critical to my lifecourse and development informing the perspectives which I have now.  Images are a powerful way of telling a story, so I will let them take it from here…

Melancholy by Edvard Munch
Melancholy by Edvard Munch

Severe and enduring depression -Acute hopelessness. Complete lack of motivation and interest in life. An episode of clinical ‘psychotic’ depression that started in July 2008 (Melancholy, Edvard Munch)…


Persistent suicidal thoughts and feelings


Persecutory anxieties and paranoia



 Deep fear- Panic attacks

(Feeling terrified, Dina Poursanidou – START in Manchester)


Hellingly Asylum


Detention under the Mental Health Act in an acute psychiatric ward in Park House, North Manchester General Hospital (NMGH) – (28 January-24 April)


Entrance of Park House
Death of the soul and the illusion of life in a dehumanising acute psychiatric ward (Park House, NMGH) (Body Casts of Pompei, British Museum)




Heavily medicated and rapidly tranquillised in Park House, NMGH

Having no say whatsoever in drug treatment decisions that were affecting me…



Physical restraint scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Me – As portrayed in my Care Records from the period of my detention in Park House, NMGH: 

“..dishevelled, retarded, highly agitated and  characterised by suicidal ideation,

lethargic and  far from mentally alert, incontinent and odorous,

occasionally  subjected to physical restraint…”


Theodora Weston Bethlem
Theodora Weston Bethlem

Zombified through potent psychiatric drugs  in Park House, NMGH –

with drugs being the only method of treatment used

(Theodora Weston, Patient in Bethlem Hospital,1895)


Fearful expression induced by electricity – Wellcome Collection

Feeling terrified in Park House, NMGH

ECT was considered as a treatment option for me but, luckily, I was spared…

(Fearful Expression Induced By Electricity, Guillaume Benjamin Amand  Duchenne)


Oppression A Kubin
Oppression A Kubin


Oppressive Humiliation-Having my confidence crushed in Park House, NMGH

(Oppression, Alfred Kubin)



Treated as somebody with diminished capacity and insight in Park House, NMGH


Absconding twice from Park House, NMGH -An act of resistance?

(Orange man escaping from jail and running free) 


An orange man escaping from a ball and chain, which can be a good concept on breaking from a contract, divorce, or escaping adversity.
An orange man escaping from a ball and chain, which can be a good concept on breaking from a contract, divorce, or escaping adversity.




Silk painting in Occupational Therapy sessions in Park House, NMGH

An oasis of creativity in the soul destroying environment of the acute psychiatric ward


(Struggling to see the sun, Dina Poursanidou - START in Manchester)
(Struggling to see the sun, Dina Poursanidou – START in Manchester)


Began attending a mental health arts project (START in Manchester) upon  my discharge from Park House

Attending START was a life saving and deeply transformative experience…

(Struggling to see the sun, Dina Poursanidou –  START in Manchester) 



The other side_ A Kubin

Having been to the Other Side (Madness)… 

(The Other Side,  Alfred Kubin – A novel that tells of a dream kingdom which becomes a nightmare, of a journey to a mysterious city created deep in Asia, which is also a journey to the depths of the subconscious – ‘a sort of Baedeker (Guidebook) for those lands which are half-known to us’, as Kubin himself called it) 

recovery image_liable head_DS

…Can I get better/recover? 

(Recovery by Daniel Saul-Making Waves)


Living with and having to negotiate the profound  self-stigma associated with psychiatric hospitalisation,  sectioning and long-term sickness absence from work/unemployment

The Sick Child 1907 by Edvard Munch 1863-1944

Being severely ill with a Crohn’s Disease flare up and put on Infliximab treatment involving monthly and then bi-monthly infusions at Trafford General Hospital in Manchester

(The Sick Child, Edvard Munch) 


Being  prescribed Lithium as a ‘last resort’ for my ‘treatment resistant depression’ (December 2009)

bob marley

Being free (i.e. not sectioned in a psychiatric ward)

Being able to make autonomous decisions and exercise choice 

in my everyday life

women dancing image
Word Collage_Start_2011

(Word Collage, Dina Poursanidou – START in Manchester) 

Being able to feel joy, enthusiasm, excitement again… 

Being interested in life again…

academic environment

Working in a supportive academic environment (Centre for Women’s mental Health, Manchester University)

Being involved in mental health research and research methods teaching which I loved!

(Having returned to work from a 2-year sickness absence period in July 2010)



Being able to dream again…

Being able to look into the future again…

Being able to laugh freely again…

Rediscovering my sense of humour…

Vase Collage_Start_2011_2

(Vase and Flower Collage, Dina Poursanidou – START in Manchester) 

Being interested in love and companionship again…

Being interested in my body and my physical appearance again…

Happy that my libido/desire is still alive and not annihilated by my severe depression and the cocktail of potent psychiatric drugs I have been on in the last 5 years… 

Starting to believe that I am attractive, likeable and loveable again…


 Being actively involved in the Asylum magazine collective

Working towards creating spaces for critical debate on psychiatry and mental health 

Having my own  blog on the Asylum magazine website

Promoting Asylum with success!

tortoise-hare-race_aesop_self esteem

Being recognised and appreciated as a competent independent scholar/researcher in Manchester University and other contexts (e.g. external conferences and meetings) 

Improving hugely my confidence in my abilities as a creative thinker and researcher

oscar_wilde_on accepting the past


Resuming the psychotherapy sessions with Azza, a very charismatic clinical psychologist that I already had 2.5 years of therapy with on the NHS  (March 2010 – September 2012)


The resumed therapy sessions with Azza were particularly helpful in terms of looking at survivor guilt,  self-sabotage and vulnerability schema and how they are played out in difficulties with delivery of work on time…


Starting the process of very slowly reducing Venlafaxine (antidepressant) with the help of my GP

(Currently I am only taking Lithium and Venlafaxine so over the last 4 years I have managed to come off most medicines in the cocktail of psychiatric drugs I used to be on whilst detained in Park House, NMGH back in 2009)  

23 November-7 December 

A fantastic trip to Australia and New Zealand – a very rich experience on many levels…

Presented a paper at the Service User Academia Symposium in Melbourne (25/26 November)

Visited Melbourne, Brisbane and Castlemaine in Australia


Melbourne, Australia


Brisbane, Australia

Visited Auckland, Wellington, Cambridge, Hamilton, Rotorua in New Zealand

I met and spoke to a lot of people in both countries about mental health service user/survivor research, mental health services, service user involvement in the planning, delivery and evaluation of mental health services, the politics of language and identification in the psychiatric survivor movement – among others…

I was really touched and very encouraged by the openness, friendliness, hospitality and generosity of Australians and New Zealanders…

Rotorua_NZ_ Maori meetinghouse

Maori Meetinghouse, Rotorua, New Zealand

Maori wood carving art

Maori Wood Carving, New Zealand


Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Reserve, Rotorua, New Zealand



  • questions and seo ,

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across
    a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and let me tell you,
    you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    I’m very happy that I stumbled across this during my hunt
    for something relating to this.

    • Lemonpump ,

      Sometimes, you have to be detained and medicated to begin the recovery. Working in a psychiatric ward in Manchester, I’ve never seen a restraint used unless others were at harm, hence they are rightly used. Who knows where you could end up if people did not end up in psychiatric premises. It wouldn’t have got better if there weren’t procedures put in places to get the ball rolling.

      Good to hear your are feeling well