Living with mental health by John


From an early age, the majority of boys are pressured by society, family or peers to grow up fast and be men, even before their teenaged years. Being told they can’t play with dolls or dress up in women’s clothes amongst other things that can be classed as gender stereotyping. Also being taught that they shouldn’t cry and that men are tough and strong, that showing emotions makes you weak. These boys tend to develop into men who struggle with dealing and showing/sharing emotions and this can sometimes factor in to why men struggle with mental health. A recent report made last year showed the highest suicide statistics in the uk were for men aged 40-44, at a rate 3 times higher than women. A surprising amount of people didn’t know that men can also get post natal depression. Usually typical in their early 20’s with their first child, but it can happen any time, just like women do.

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Session 4 – 12th June

Looking at the past, gives us an opportunity to celebrate achievements and unsung heroes. We can also observe what was not so successful and change it into something better.

It was when I visited The Glasgow School of Art in May 2018 that I chatted to an American couple, who were also looking into their Scottish heritage. They gave me the info about the Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh that abandoned their strict disciplinarian approach in 1916 and replaced it with “Culture Therapy”. They also helped me see the vast amount of mental health discrimination, even with our war heroes suffering from PTSD.

My father didn’t ever mention his mental health issues during WW2 because he thought that was the best way of dealing with it. However the effect of it filtered down the generations and affected every member of my family detrimentally. I was the “black sheep” because I thought it best to talk about the underlying issues that resulted in our ultra-dysfunctional family. However the icy silence combined with the resulting atmosphere of hate, created far more issues for all of us.

Photo by Amanda Clair

On the 16th June 2018 The Glasgow School of Art was destroyed by fire. I took some photos of their visual arts exhibition. I was struck by the content. It had moved on from Tracy Emins art work and I found it even more disturbing It portrayed a man jumping off a building. At the UEA there is also a sculpture of a man, looking as though he is about to jump off a building. However when I did Art Therapy in 1989-1991 I found I could access difficult suppressed trauma, paint it in my pictures and then leave that trauma on the paper. I would always then paint a more positive picture to replace it and focus on a more positive outcome I stayed at a B&B next to the Rene Macintosh building…a beautiful feat of architecture. though it needed a lift for my heavy luggage!!!! It was a great privilege, especially now it has been destroyed. Good memories for me and good outcomes.

Photo by Amanda Clair

The Burgh Castle Almanac project is proving far more beneficial to me than I ever imagined. On the 12th June I produced my first oil pastel drawing for many years. Some tourists jokingly offered me a million pounds for it. If only!!! The Mindfulness walking took me to the present moment so I could take in the beauty of the area. I could hear the birds, the rustling reeds, The colours seemed brighter and I could smell the fresh air. I demonstrated Alternate Nostril Breathing which, for me is an easy way to relax and focus on mindfulness breathing. When I first started practising this in 1993 I couldn’t breathe through my nose because of the congestion. However as time went on it improved considerably and now my breathing is even except when I am stressed and overwhelmed with too many challenges. I find a drop of Tea Tree essential oil on my pillow at night will help prevent a cold developing It is said Tea Tree has antibiotic properties.

The steep climb up to Burgh Castle on arrival would have been totally impossible for me a few years ago, before I started mindfulness, yoga and then other alternative methods. My ketogenic diet has also helped improve my health. Instead of getting my energy from sugar and carbohydrates, the keto diet derives energy from good fats and nutrients from vegetables etc.

In such a peaceful environment with people I resonate with I find it easier to process past trapped trauma and release it from my body. Thank you to everyone for your acceptance and support. Thank you to all those for teaching me how to use my new camera, that was a Christmas present. The blue sari, blowing in the wind represented to me the letting go of the past, in a very positive way.

Text and artwork by Jeannette Beynon

Burgh Castle in 19th Century Art

Some examples of Burgh Castle Fort in art from the 19th century, from our creative facilitator Ian Brownlie.

Henry Stannard (1870-1951)

John Crome (1794-1842)

John Arnesby Brown (1866-1955)

James Stark (1794-1859)

Creative responses to BCA so far…

Once a month during Burgh Castle Almanac participants meet at Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth to develop creative work reflecting on their experiences at Burgh Castle. During the first month of BCA we have already seen some brilliant work from participants produced during sessions with creative facilitator Ian Brownlie and at home between sessions, here is a selection.

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by Sue Tyler

by Sue Tyler

Session 3 – 29 May 2018 – Two blog posts from our latest trip to Burgh Castle Fort

I’ve been asked to write a piece for the Restoration Trust about the time I have spent at Burgh Castle recently.

I was approached a couple of months ago to be a part of this group. I’d never done anything like this before so I was intrigued by it all. I attended the first session and just kept to myself and took in all the information that was shared with us. I was unable to make the second session so on my 3rd session I took my tablet along to try to get some videos and pictures as I would of felt uncomfortable using the cameras that where provided. So we started our walk around the site and I could see how much growth has happened so quickly with new plants popping up, the smell of the different plants and all the different bugs. It amazed me how it’s changed so little over time. I sat down after taking some photos to have my lunch and it was so nice hearing the birds, running water, everyone just chatting and other members of the public enjoying their day out too. Ian then got out – (that I can only explain as something looking like tin foil) – when the wind got blowing it looked liked water and the sound coming from it was amazing. I took a video of this and made it in slow motion. It was so therapeutic for me. We then took a walk by the river and it was so nice hearing the water and just chatting to different people. I’m going to finish here as if it the post is well received I may write more.


Photos and text by John Durrant


The first thing I noticed at Burgh Castle was the vast growth in the vegetation since my last visit on 25th April.
The meadow of wild flowers we walked through to the castle was like a visualisation I used to do.
Visualising my own meadow back in the 1990’s ,with all the beautifully coloured plants and flowers with birds singing and the gentle breeze swishing and swirling through the vegetation, took me away from my challenging life, to a place of peace and beauty and safety.
Instead of the castle and Broads in the distance I visualised a gurgling stream.
I would sit beside it and I would be lulled into a feeling of being totally at one with myself and this idyllic place I’d found within my mind.
It was great that Sam showed us what to look out for when identifying flowers and plants. This hands-on learning is so valuable and inspiring. I actually did my first drawing since I created an animation of a story I had written in 2014. My Black Cat. I wasn’t even stressed about the phone call telling me about my H&S inspection tomorrow. It was helpful when I got home that I needed to find various things for our next session because that encouraged me to tidy up while getting them out. Instead of my usual panic attack my H&S check went extremely well in my new home.
Many thanks to all of you.

Drawing and text by Jeannette Beynon