June 12, 2011|
Sisyphusa by Michael Richmond
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Sisyphusa is an allegory of depression and the mental health system as seen through the eyes of its main character and first person narrator, Odis Winston. Odis is abducted from a comfortable existence at university and taken to an institution called 'Sisyphusa'. He is told when he arrives that he is 'Weird' and that he cannot leave until he has been 'Normalised'. He has been fitted with an Earpiece which has a poisonous and malign voice, similar to his own, and which begins to torment his every waking moment. Encountering characters and situations loosely based on Homer's Odyssey and in a dystopian style influenced by Orwell and Kafka, we follow Odis's transformation from helpless captive to active rebel and leader. The book is imbued with dark humour and compassion for its characters and their struggles. It manages to be a satirical polemic of our own times while creating an entirely new world of "Aspirati," "Hysteria-Dominated Television (HDTV)," "I-Spy's," and "Climbing Pills." It explores Mental Health themes surrounding institutionalisation, dehumanisation, self-harm, stigma, suicide and media (mis)representation.

About the Author

Michael was born in London in 1986. He had a happy childhood, growing up in a loving home with his parents and older brother. He always liked school but was equally occupied with enjoying life with his friends and family and continuing his lifelong romance with Arsenal Football Club. After A-Levels, Michael travelled around India, Southeast Asia and Australasia for 6 months before attending the University of Sussex. He felt in his element being at university and living in Brighton. He was growing, working hard and making wonderful friendships.

However, halfway through his second year of university, in February 2007, he had a very sudden and unexpected onset of what was later diagnosed as Anxiety and Clinical Depression and later still with a form of OCD. Within the space of a week he went from being a very confident and successful student to being unable to leave the house that he was living in with friends in Brighton. Michael had to move back home to hisparents' house in London where he has remained ever since.

He has had various talking therapies and medications over the four years he has been unwell, some of which have been very helpful, others distinctly unhelpful. He began to read avidly after the first year of almost catatonic depression. He has also tried to learn Spanish and Portuguese and has taken up the piano. He wrote Sisyphusa over the course of around eighteen months initially inspired by a strange dream and by the anger he felt after attending a psychiatric day hospital for six months.

Michael has felt a stark rupture in the way in which he has experienced life before and after his breakdown. He is no longer as housebound as he was in the first couple of years, thanks in large part to his Cocker Spaniel puppy Milo who demands constant walks and attention. He has fewer crises, and with the help of his family and caregivers he has learned more effective ways of managing his symptoms. Nevertheless, his situation remains very limited as hefeels unable to work or to resume his formal studies, nor does he feel able to be in contact with former friends from school and university or most of his wider family.But he's pleased to be able to share his work with a wider audience and to add his voice to the many thousands fighting against the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Title:SisyphusaFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:318 pages, 8 X 5 X 0.71 inShipping dimensions:318 pages, 8 X 5 X 0.71 inPublished:June 12, 2011Publisher:ChipmunkapublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1849915261

ISBN - 13:9781849915267

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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