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Joe Mc and the food of love / 26 July 2010

red and blue pastel of a figure drumming

Drumming the blues away (Jan 2010 - watercolour and pastel) © Joe McConnell 2010

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I mentioned the other day that my recent recovery from a year-long period of severe depression was helped by making art. This is still working for me. And many friends and colleagues are remarking that I seem better in myself than they have found in a long time.

I'm feeling so well at the moment that I have decided to slowly, over the coming months, reduce my intake of anti-psychotic drugs (currently Quetiapine) to zero. In the past, I have done this myself. And, sometimes, too abruptly. Things have gone so well this year that I'm not risking it and have asked for support from my medical/ mental health team. This has been accepted.

I fully believe that anti-psychotic medication can be helpful in getting through a crisis. But my own experience reinforced by reading The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment by Joanna Moncrief has convinced me that these drugs are not desirable in the long term.

More of this soon. But, for the meantime, I can't say it loudly enough how important it is when healing to keep the vibe up and do all you can to feel good in yourself. It sounds like a rather bland self-evident thing to say. But it is something so easily forgotten when you're not well.

On this theme, I thought it would be cool to share some of my favourite music with you. Here is my current 'top five'. This probably changes on a weekly basis. But these are some of the sounds that work for me when I can hardly get my arse off the floor. I'd be delighted if you posted-in your own 'top fives'. It seems like a good thing to share around.

Queen Latifah 'Just Another Day'
 Long before the bling and Hollywood called, Queen Latifah was a great rap artistist.

Handel's 'Lascia ch'io pianga'
 (Let me weep) sung by Philippe Jaroussky. I reckon many a hypogonad may be endowed with a colatura-type voice. Philippe Jaroussky - not a hypognad - has such a range and also the virtuosity to use it.

Mary J Blige singing on George Michael's 'As'
 Like many Irish folk of my generation I have deep devotion for Mary. Mary J that is.

Amadou and Maryam 'Je pense a toi' (I think of you)
 I LOVE music from Mali in general. From Amadou and Maryam to the late Ali Farka Toure to the magnificent Oumou Sangare, I find so much of this music, moving, uplifting and, above all, healing. 

Jacques Brel 'Amsterdam'
 For those days when you feel totally fucked up, it's good to listen to someone who's definitely been there. It's a shame that Brel's songs suffered such unspeakably insipid English interpretations.

Keywords: depression,disability art,healing