Jason Pegler appeared as a guest speaker on Radio 5 Live’s Shelagh Fogerty show today. Pegler, CEO of Chipmunka Publishing, was discussing drug driving. He can claim first-hand knowledge of this subject, having written extensively about over-indulgence in cannabis wrecking his life. As a youth in Gloucestershire he got caned regularly, only to develop severe psychosis, eventually ending up in psychiatric hospital. This
experience formed the backbone of his highly acclaimed debut novel, ‘A Can of Madness’.
“A Can of Madness does what it says on the .. er, can. A brilliant memoir of mania; all the pain, humour, fear and despair is chronicled here in prose of clarity and distinction. Unforgettable and important”.
“This book will help people to understand one of the great issue of our time, how to treat those who are mentally disturbed, as human beings”.
Right Hon Tony Benn
A positive outcome of Jason’s experience was it proved to be cathartic. He decided to devote his life to encouraging mental health issues to be viewed in a positive light. He established Chipmunka Publishing to encourage anyone who had experienced depression, schizophrenia or other mental issues to communicate their stories, in fiction, biography, poetry or music. Sharing these traumatic events was ultimately life-affirming. Crucially, it helped people to empathise with the sufferers, in order to confront the ridiculous stigma still facing mental health issues.
Jason encouraged me to write ‘BrainBomb’ which was published as a paperback and e-book download by
Chipmunka Publishing in 2009. This is the story of bipolar episodes I suffered as a young man. It highlights the dark thoughts, the delusions and the paranoia. It’s totally honest about the mistaken belief that temporary highs cure life’s ills. There is canned madness, undoubtedly; but also a clear view of the light at the tunnel’s end.
Excerpt from BrainBomb
I had colleagues who were hoovering as much drink and recreational drugs as myself, indulging in as many one-night stands, gaining as little sleep. But that was irrelevant. That fine line between mental health and ill-health was governed by minute chemical imbalances in the brain not tallies of pints, joints, lines or tabs. That was what partitioned those that could handle incinerating that fabled candle at both ends, and those who couldn’t.
Today I popped into the Book Festival in Charlotte Square. I told them I was a local writer, first novel just published, could I leave some flyers? The reaction I got from the non-Edinburgh accented staff at the foyer, you'd think I'd asked to streak through one of the celebrity readings. 'No flyers. Definitely not. You'd have to run that by our press office'.
Outlandish, an arts events at the Wave Theatre, Craigmillar on Thursday 21 August, was a glimpse of what can make the Edinburgh Festival special. Drama about the Rwanda genocide by Sonja Linden, performed by Malawi Logan ... Excerpts from 'Coast', by Annie George, played by Avaes Mohammed and Phil ... Post-apartheid political satire by Pieter Dirk Uys, performed by Serena Parks ... And a hilarious performance by Lisa Jackson 'Heart in Jamaica, England Thy Home'. There was also Indian Dance Fusion by Indira Kemp, spoken word by Kokumo Rocks, jazz-tinged soul by Edinburgh's Townhouse, Afro-beat by Samba Sene and Diwan, as well as dance. I was asked to do a reading from BrainBomb. It was an excellent night, relaxed atmosphere, good vibes, challenging theatre, food and drink, a show that lasted well over 3 hours, and all for a five-spot.
When Celebs overdo the thrills and pills their agents book them into rehab. Beyond the sensationalist headlines the process rarely merits much attention. For ‘civilians’, as Liz Hurley refers to the rest of us, breakdowns require more than trendy clinics. In this excerpt from my novel, BrainBomb, the central character, Neil, is coming to terms with his deepening bipolar illness: