Part one of this article can be found here
How did the book “Bedlam’s Best and Finest” come about?
I had been battling mental health difficulties for nearly 20 years. I thought about writing something that would have an underlying theme of how to go about making yourself better. A sort of self-help book so to speak. Now it was never going to be a normal, standard type of self-help book. Poetry seemed to me the right vehicle to cover the subject.
I worked on key areas that I knew a lot about, I also wanted to be a little experimental as well and I worked away and produced a draft.
I sat on the draft for a little while before I started to search for publishers and eventually Eyewear were the people who offered me the chance to publish my work.
What are the key ideas contained within the book?
My aim was to look into the thematics of mental health and one of the things I was influenced by was the Beatles “Revolver” album where they aimed to create a different sound environment for each song. I wanted to create a different style for each issue.
I examine anxiety, panic attacks, the internal dialogue during particular episodes, drugs, hospital, how you experience your life at home when you are going through difficult periods, and beyond that how might people’s mental health be improved.
It is written in the form of a personal statement, and I thought that was the best way to do it.
You spent a bit of time working out how best to convey the key messages?
I thought about how to express the way mental illness impacted, in this instance, my mind.
I think because mental health is such a singular journey it required the writing to have that feel to it. It should feel episodic, a bit like stopping off points in a journey.
I would like to think that people who experience mental health problems would get a lot out of the book; that they would be able to make a connection with the poems and the way that the poems are written. The poems do, I think, express the journey in a way which people can relate to.
Is there much in the book for people who don’t experience mental health difficulties?
A fellow poet David Braziel read it and he said he could connect with the psychosis of the situation. He said it reminded him of a time when you are feeling ill and you fall asleep and then you wake up but you are still ill. You don’t quire respond the same way you would if you are well.
I thought that was great because I want to bring people along with me as far as I can and that feedback suggested that the book should be able to do that.
To me a lot of mental health issues might be understood by people who don’t experience them as something similar to waking up from a dream. You have some idea of what the dream was about but you simply can’t remember the whole dream, or specifics about what you were experiencing while you were asleep.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
The book was based on my own experiences.
My research beyond my own experience was done many years ago, reading up on psychiatry, on the impact of drugs and various other issues, so I was able to draw on that information quite easily.
The book is also a theatre show?
Yes and I am working on performances for next year. The show is almost word for word the book with a few things removed which would not work as part of a performance.
So far the performances have been well received, I have put a lot of work in to memorising the material so I can deliver a good theatre show.
I’m hoping to tour the book next year (2019) and I have helped produce a documentary film on mental health which will be shown throughout the year as well.
You can find more information about Michael Wilson’s work at his Facebook page – www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643030406
His book “Bedlam’s Best and Finest” is available to purchase at the following link – www.amazon.co.uk/Bedlams-Best-Finest-Michael-Wilson/dp/1912477262