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Interview 38

Age at interview: 45
Age at diagnosis: 32
Brief Outline: Effective approaches have included counselling from his GP, partner support, doing a 'Landmark' course, swimming, and finding an authentic and creative expression for himself through his work.
Background: Is a black gay artist, living with his partner. A difficult family life, he thought about suicide at the age of 14 and again when he had depression at 32.

More about me...

 
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Has chosen work that is creative and allows him to express himself, connect with others, and help...

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Well my work is my great privilege you see because I think the fact that I've chosen work that is creative and so self-expressive and it also.... its not just about me, the nature of my work in...and the way I've crafted my practice, it's about connecting with other people. So it's at one and the same time it's all about me and it's all about the people I'm working with, it's about who they are and what's going on for them. And it's... I don't think its any accident that although I am the kind of visual artist that I am, increasingly I draw in elements that make the process as important as the results. I interview people, I create as much opportunity as I can for them to reflect on who they are, and what they're up to and what's happened and what it all means. Not like in a' I'm no therapist, I'm not therapeutic but a lot of people take it like that because it's a rare opportunity for them to express and explore and play with who they are.

 
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Did the Landmark course, which allowed him to take responsibility for his own role in the poor...

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And I suppose I've been doing' in the last five years I've been doing sort of courses with an organisation called The Landmark. They are really clear it is not an alternative to therapy, its for people who want to take a very cognitive based look at their lives, identify what's going on, and create things in their lives that work better than the things that they're doing at the moment. 

At its simplest what happens is there is you look at life, they have a way of describing the mechanics of life as we experience it. There are a series of.... if you like, tendencies that humans have, you know a tendency to not take responsibility, a tendency to blame other people for what's going on, a tendency to deny what's going on. A tendency to have one's experiences from the past'To have experiences that worked less than well somehow dictate to your intellect that that's all going to happen again'. 

My relationship with my father was so bad and so horrible and awful that I just related to it as that's how it is, you know I breathe, I hate my father's guts. It was just a given, so I didn't actually go to the Landmark course thinking I'll really do some work on my dad, that was landscape'. So my first job on picking the phone up during one of the breaks in the course was to say, "Dad, no this isn't about an argument, I want to talk to you." You know, kind of I'm.... I just said and this is... I can't remember how we got there but I knew exactly what I wanted to say to him. I said, "Dad, I'm ringing to apologise for my role in the breakdown in our relationship. There are all sorts of things have happened. And I've just related to you in a way that makes it impossible for us to be able to manage each other at all.'

 
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Says that in being sectioned, Frank Bruno moved from lovable buffoon to the much feared...

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Frank Bruno is a very complicated case for me because he's, for me he occurs as this sort of lovable buffoon and he is... I think he has ultimately been quite astute up until recently in handling his own image... You know, the big black bruiser with a dodgy background, boxing champion of dubious talents but somehow he's managed to find a place in the English affections. But to do that he's had to become utterly emasculated.  

And its interesting... its as if he's you know come home to, he's reverted to type by being mentally unstable and uncontrollable, its almost a relief.... Certainly you know for the mainstream consciousness to know that he still is a big black male and can be out of control.... And in that capacity of course he was showered with all sorts of attention and, and I don't think altogether an un-genuine sense of affection, but he's comfortable, Frank Bruno is easy because ultimately he's harmless, he's made sure that he doesn't offer any threat... 

But if you are any minority member, its not just race you know.... sexuality and a load of other things and of course women, you know if you are prepared to play the game that keeps essentially white middle class males unthreatened then you are very welcome, you will be embraced. But if you are going to express anything about the real nature of your experience at the hands of their rather odd views they're down like a pack of wolves and you know they're gonna deal with you in one way or another - albeit very civilised of course.

 
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Says black people are viewed as criminal, out of control and sexually rampant, and people can...

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But for me the, the fear thing is such, its about stories about black people being criminal, out of control, sexually rampant. So there are any number of settings where people's concerns about who I am manifest as really weird and offensive behaviour towards me. And they're so wrapped up in it I don't think sometimes they realise how offensive they're being, they're just so wrapped up in their own imaginings of what could happen to them. I mean I'm you know I'm a reasonable, honest, law abiding person and I have to deal with the fact that when I am in certain confined spaces people do, do things like grabbing their bags. Or looking, or not wanting to sit next to you or, there are all sorts of things where they make it so obvious. You know I don't think I'm particularly paranoid, you know people will have to be quite crass before I will have to start registering that something actually isn't working.... I'll speak personally because I mean I could pontificate how 'the black community' whatever that is, copes, I don't know. How I deal with it is sometimes its difficult, most of the time its just stuff. You have to remember that I've been in this identity all my life, so it's not as if I suddenly came here and had to learn to be related to differently.... As I was born here, born at a time when racism was really virulent and naked and raw and I now live with increasing layers of veneers of civilised response.... people have learnt what they should and shouldn't say to keep their badge of being related to as a decent person.

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