DIAMONDS – Diabetes and Mental Illness

Without doubt, lived experience of any mental health problem is challenging. Couple that experience with any additional medical or physical condition and you might expect treatment outcomes to be affected….they are! A startling example of this is in the case of people with diabetes who in addition have a psychiatric diagnosis.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) also known as simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period” (Wikipedia) and approximately 3.2million people are affected in UK

Evidence suggests that “diabetes is more than twice as prevalent and has poorer outcomes in people” diagnosed with “schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression than those without. “Although behavioural interventions have proved very effective in the general population, it is not known how effective such interventions are in people” with the aforementioned psychiatric diagnosis, to that end

“Dr Najma Siddiqi is working with colleagues as part of the NHS Yorkshire & Humber Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) on an exciting new research project to help people with both diabetes and SMI  (Serious Mental Illness) better manage their diabetes”.

In addition ……

DIAMONDS, .Diabetes and Mental Illness:Improving Outcomes and Treatments, Stake Holder Group.of Bradford NHS Trust……are asking for the help and support of people with lived experience of mental illness/diabetes, and/or their carers to take part in the following, on-line questionnaire survey

and possibly for their attendance initial consultation event to be held on

Thursday 4th September, 2014  11am – 1.00pm at

The Cellar Trust, The Old School, Farfield Road, Shipley BD18 4QP.

Tea and coffee will be served from 10.30 a.m. and lunch will be available after the meeting.

You can book on-line here

or contact if you would like to attend, or have any further questions.

DIAMONDS also suggest you might like to follow them on Twitter 

Poppy remembrance


White poppy

Earlier this year, at the Headingley Festival of Ideas, I attended a discussion between the Peace Pledge Union, and others who thought achieving peace might be an ideal to strive for, but however considering war was at times necessary to eradicate a greater evil.

Members of the  Peace Pledge Union choose to wear a  white poppy on Remembrance occasions. At times this choice to wear a white poppy alongside, or instead of the more traditional red poppy frequently means they face the ire of the mainstream.

Red poppy The money raised from the the sale of red poppies goes toward helping injured soldiers or the bereaved families of soldiers  killed in hostilities. Although pacifists might not have any objection to that, their symbolic wearing of a white poppy reflects their moral concern and desire to seek alternatives to war in the pursuance of peace.

This weekend and today has  seen many observations of the centenary of the start of World War I. Although I have committed to attend such an event with someone, I fear what conflicting emotion it might unleash for me. The discussion at Festival of ideas had already left me feeling out of my comfort zone. I’d been brought up by one parent not to engage in these kind of debates.

My parents were part of the second World War effort, my maternal grandfather was gassed in the trenches of World War 1. although he did return alive from the war he was never able to do a full time job again.  Prior to the war Granddad had been a master carpenter, upon his return he was not well enough for that. Claiming means tested benefits in those days was one humiliation he and other proud folk would not do.

Granddad later aligned himself with pacifists ideals on religious grounds as did my mum, choosing never to wear either a red or white poppy on remembrance occasions. Mum had been in the Women’s Land Army during the war, doing the farm jobs normally done by the men who had gone to war, while there she became friends  with conscientious objectors who also were set to land labor if not imprisoned.

Prisoners of war were also put to work in this way, inevitably fraternization with the ‘enemy’ was common. I was nearly half Italian,  Mum always described those days as the happiest of her life, she was 20 and remained life long friends with her fellow land army girls, and me in turn with their children….. but not with the Italian!

Su's Ma in Land Army

During world War 1 some objectors were tied to canons as punishment, deserters were frequently shot….very emotive issues. and ones on which I’d dislike to deliberate appropriate ‘punishment’, thankfully times and attitudes change.

What becomes apparent during war time is that apart from its immediate affects, with its casualties and atrocities, there will long remain the emotional and mental scars which are not only inflicted on soldiers but on their families.

I have little doubt that the world at war since 1914 was  a major factor in my family’s often times poor emotional and mental responses. I know very little about the  biochemical explanations for mental illness but intrinsically I find them an inadequate explanation, they don’t ring true to my experience or to those of other people of my acquaintance so labelled.


Thoughts ripple through the path

*This blog is inspired by a recent visit I took to a coastal town. If one is of the opinion that they would like to take time to go to the sea, and if opportunities allow, a day by the beach in my view is a day well spent.

It might as well be the entrance to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia or J.M. Barrie’s Neverland, given the lamp-post that obscures the view.


The path of thoughts meanders, one a to another, as gently as the sea that I observe.

I take a breath of summer seasoning.                                                                                 My eyes and mind switched on, to the view. I turn away and I question if it really does exist. The night’s a box of hidden photos; so intense are the images that come to mind as I take in the sheer vastness of sea, sky, and clouds. I also have the notion that it’s like the night’s dark sky is coffee for thought.

I see my reflection in the glass, looking outwards towards the sea whilst I wait for my food order. It’s the first time I’ve seen myself so pensive.


Twice I breathe, at the implausibility of one pool existing for- I’m not sure…                   Television series reach omega.                                                                                     Events happen and the reach their conclusion.                                                                     Yet in that time the same water swings back and forth, dipping with Atlantis’ ancestry.

Pebbled towers on the stadium-like harbour that surrounds the sea, erode                       until after generations the sands will write on future windscreens ‘they holidayed here’.   A bird will indent the night. A nocturnal being will wonder into humanity – for just a second.


Who knows how many times all this will happen to those random passers-by.                     Before once again they spring back to the Ancient Greek ‘Polis’ (country),                           A place where one feels most at home.

Sources:-                                                                                                                         image 1 – Anocheciendo en Costa Adeje – José Luis Antúnez                                                      (accessed 2.8.2014)

image 2 – Sunset at Costa Adeje, South of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain – Manu766               (accessed 2.8.2014)

image 3 – My wife enjoying the sea at Costa Adeje, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain                           Manu766                                                                                                                           (accessed 2.8.2014)

By Amanda Lynsdale

Lasting Essence – an exhibition at the Arch Cafe


I have a print of one of Peter Shillito’s paintings in my front room. It’s a bright, complex, abstract design that people often comment on, and the colours in particular (strong blues, greens, purple) are very beautiful. Peter is a genuine mystic, whose poems and artwork form a whole – two different ways of pointing toward the same truth.

His exhibition ‘Lasting Essence’ is currently showing at the Arch Café, (just off Dortmund Square, round the corner from the St. John’s Centre). As well as about 20 of his paintings, there is a book of poetry with the same title, which has images of some of the paintings in it. It’s a lovely little collection. The title poem ‘written soon after a mental illness had torn my world apart’, sets the tone:

Little Tree

A small tree may grow

Its branches reaching out

like the arms of a child

Touching a golden sun

Its leaves whisper

and flutter free

Like a dove on a wing,

out into Eternity.

The theme of finding light out of mental darkness, and discovering that ‘breakdown’ can lead to ‘breaking through’, is a theme that runs through Peter’s writing. It made me think of another English poet/painter mystic, William Blake:

“What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song? Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price

Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy”

Peter is a member of the Living Artists Movement, the group Ushawant Kaur began, which printed his book. He’s also a regular member of the Scattered Leaves group, where practising artists and writers share their work every first Tuesday evening at the Civic Hall. The Lasting Essence exhibition will run until the 18th of August.

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The Asda 10K run tomorrow – Raising funds for Leeds Mind and a personal achievement

The annual Leeds 10K, inspired by the late Jane Tomlinson,  starts tomorrow at 09.30 from Millennium Square and New Briggate.

Sunday 22nd July – a date which seemed so far away when I first signed up for this run, is finally here!  I’m not sure if I am excited about it or dreading it. Surprisingly though I think I’m leaning towards excitement (at the moment that is!)  This is my first long run.  My tag line has always been ‘I’m not a natural runner.’  eek !

Here is the  route – it’s going to be a great atmosphere.  Come down and join the crowds, everyone is welcome to cheer us on !

Leeds 10K – 2014



I’m running with a team from Leeds Mind. (We’ll be in the Leeds Mind running vests – you can’t miss us.)  We are raising funds which will go towards the recruitment and retention of volunteers.  If you would like to donate some money please see our Just Giving Page – Leeds Mind run the 10K. 

I’d also just like to add that I feel the training has had a quite a big impact upon my emotional well-being. The release of endorphins seem to make me feel a little bit more optimistic, which can have quite a profound effect upon my thinking.

Jane Tomlinson would have celebrated her 50th birthday earlier this year.  What a legacy she left behind, she was and her memory is so inspiring.

Thanks – Vicky


In Green

  A couple of months ago (had no internet for a few weeks due to a technical glitch) I did a very enjoyable workshop at Clarence House called Feeling Good  With colour.  It was about using colour  to improve our mood.  We did a visualisation  where we imagined sitting under a giant flower and golden sunshine pouring on to us,  discussed a poem about colour in nature, colour associations, discussed colour therapy, colour harmony, and how colours are used in different cultures.  We also went into the garden and each wrote a poem about what were experiencing.  This is the poem.

                                   IN GREEN


In green


Indigo flowers

Sat in middle.

Circle of bird conversation.

Trees smooth out                                                                       treespirit-greenwood-tree-primavera-500

Blunt sunshine

Cool breeze

Pats the back

Of golden heat

Calms the whirling

Brain chatter.

Buttercup open

Like greeting hand.

(image from

Brunch break

Eggs and Johnny cakesBloggers are frequently invited to free events, no doubt the invitee might expect their event or venue, will merit a blog post.

I recently received an invitation to attend a free bloggers brunch, complete with Bloody Mary’s. A cynic might have concluded, “there is no such thing as a free brunch” and declined the offer…I did not!

The stated aim of the venue offering the brunch, was to test run the menu prior to the its launch date,  scheduled for a week hence. They were keen for those present to comment on the quality of the food, the menu’s proposed pricing and service. I’d considered they might expect a favourable blog review. Didn’t they know I wasn’t a food blogger?  I wondered how, as an amateur blogger, more used to writing about my ways of remaining well,  I’d pitch my piece.

What I’d particularly liked about the invitation was that it stated the event wasn’t primarily about networking. The brunch was advertised as an opportunity for we guests to have a leisurely Saturday breakfast, with friends or family. The manager, and another very attentive member of staff, only interrupted discreetly to ascertain our viewpoint.

Other food blogging events, I’ve attended,…..(I like food)

mi' old yorkshirehad networking and brands as a significant part of the interaction. (not quite my cup of tea). Most in attendance at those previous gatherings were more concerned with eeking out an existence from small indie businesses, rather than making mega bucks.

At times I’d been hesitant to attend, would I be the only un-glossy  person there?  Although PR, food criticism and photography might be considered glam jobs, and professionals do frequent these events, I found them a decidedly unstuffy bunch. Their passion for food, writing blogs and photography  was most in evidence.

Naturally enough discussions about mental health are not a feature of these events. It can be disquieting to step out of circles where discussions on lived experience of  mental distress are commonplace. When I do attend, I try to dispel any discomfort I feel by reflecting that of the 20 or so present, most will have experienced life events that are equally difficult. Additionally I keep in mind, 1 in 4 members of the population are affected by mental illness at some point in their life, thus making it highly probable some in attendance are similarly affected. Appearances can be so deceptive.

Eating nutritiously, having an absorbing hobby, and sharing ideas with others has and remains part of my journey on the wellbeing route. Eating nutritiously is perhaps the one I do least frequently or well. I love tasty food and shopping for ingredients, but carrying them often sees me too tired to cook them straight away. Other interests, an inadequate kitchen space are all other excuses I make! Fortunately I know some quick fix recipes and some of Leeds cheap, quality back street eateries.

My companion and I were first to arrive for the brunch, a few blogging/foodie, cultural types sauntered in a bit later. I thought perhaps a nod of recognition would suffice, however many seemed more honed on the Bloody Mary’s, or Bloody Shames!.(all juice, no booze),  Pleasantries were reserved for the farewells, perhaps it was the post brunch, soulful, bluesy live guitar music, or the affect of the Bloody Mary’s, but people did seem more convivial by then. More used to seeing some with their other hats on, it was nice to find out a bit more about them while in leisure mode.

I felt a level of obligation to write a blog about.Soul Kitchen, my friend and I both enjoyed the Johnny cakes with eggs that we had chosen, however writer’s block had me seriously in it’s grip. Other writing and reading goals had me challenged, but I recalled the comments of a professional writer who’d said they were dubious about people who say that writing is their passion. He quipped they couldn’t be doing it right, which implied he too found writing, his chosen profession, hard. These comments helped me to stick with my attempts to transfer the ideas which swirl in my mind, in to typeface or on to paper.

In summary eating from the Deep Southern, Carribean, Creole influenced menu was no hardship, it was a very pleasant experience. I’ve since returned, the quality and taste was just as good. The pricing might mean it will be an occasional treat. Those watching pennies and calories, might choose the Fruit Loops. The venue, Soul Kitchen is situated in the airy space of the The Wardrobe bar, (opposite the bus station), an aptly named place to slip into something casual….perhaps not your pjs.

Soul Kitchen also serve evening meals.