Book review: Tell Me When My Light Turns Green

Chris Youle is a retired Senior Counsellor at the Open University and has a broad experience of the mental health system in the UK. Chris’s work with the Open University included supporting students with mental health challenges as well as training staff in mental health awareness. Chris has an ongoing interest in making information about mental health as widely available as possible.

Rarely do we hear from inside psychosis. Even more rarely is it described in such a vivid and readable way. Lucas Aggerton (a nom de plume) has wide user-experience of the mental health system, together with a BA in American and English Literature from the University of Canterbury, and an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmith’s College, London. He has succeeded in conveying the horror of Jacob Spalding’s experiences of psychiatric illness and psychiatric treatment in an accessible, moving and sometimes amusing way.

“[This novel] enables the reader to glimpse into the terrifying world of serious mental illness … “

This is an outstandingly well-written debut novel and enables the reader to glimpse into the terrifying world of serious mental illness in an open and revealing way. Not only will this novel raise people’s awareness of what it is like to gradually and uncontrollably enter the world of mental illness, but it could be helpful for those who have experienced similar circumstances, enabling them to feel less alone and isolated in their troubling circumstances.

Most importantly, though, for those treating acutely ill patients in our mental health system, this could be an extremely helpful read. It can’t help but broaden the understanding of patients’ life experiences preceding the decline into mental illness, and the reality of the psychotic world and psychiatric care from the perspective of the user. This could lead to a more holistic, patient-centred, and empathic approach to supporting patients, sometimes sadly lacking in our overstretched mental health services. I recommend this book to psychiatric professionals, patients, and carers.

Competing interest
Chris Youle and Lucas Aggerton are relatives.

Featured book: Lucas Aggerton, Tell Me When My Light Turns Green, Boatwhistle Books, 2021, PB, 300pp, £12.00, 978-1911052050.

Featured photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash.

The BJGP is the world-leading primary care journal. At BJGP Life we add multi-media comment and opinion for the primary care community.

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