I am the Storytelling Pharmacist - professional storyteller and mental health pharmacist. Stories are medicines which I dispense.
In 2020 I completed a two-year Masters in Research degree which focused on people’s experience with medication in psychosis. The themes which emerged are ones of needing hope and individuality, of re-defining oneself when using medication, and the need for an alternative narrative about medicines in mental health.
This important project inspired me to tell people’s stories.
I speak about the importance of marrying up healthcare and stories.
It can be difficult to talk about psychiatric medication with some patients; discussing it can bring back past trauma. Some people have a lot of anger; others need hope. When I enter the room for the session, the communal anxiety and fear of talking about medication is palpable. Then, unexpectedly, I begin with “Once upon a time”.
I hear their sighs of relief. Their tensed limbs relax as they sink comfortably into their chairs. People smile, and they look into the distance to imagine far-away worlds filled with animals, kingdoms, journeys, and heroes and heroines overcoming challenges and coming back stronger.
The stories I tell all have themes of healing, hope or overcoming adversity. With each telling, my stories take on a life of their own and bring new elements of wisdom to me and to my listeners. It is medicine in its own way.
You can find my article in the Pharmaceutical Journal discussing the powerful healing nature of stories used in a mental health environment here.
I have been successful in gaining a place at the very competitive three-week residency programme - Storytelling Beyond Words Creative Lab, at the School of Storytelling at Emerson College (previously known as the International School of Storytelling), in order to turn my Masters’ thesis and findings into a storytelling performance.
This will allow me to take the powerful message of my research to people who need to hear it in order to instigate a positive change, and alter the narrative in healthcare in a positive direction. The performance will be inclusive and accessible for all.
This storytelling project will consist of a performance, followed by a question and answer session, and a space for discussion, ideas and connection. My hope is to decrease stigma, increase compassion and empathy. It will raise awareness, and anyone who sees the show can help spread this message. I plan to start the performance in Sussex with the hope to expand the reach of this project, including at art and storytelling festivals, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities and conferences nationally and internationally.
How I will use the funds
The course fees are £1850, and I will use the rest of the money towards ensuring free tickets for as many people as possible, venue and promotion costs, as well as funds for food and transport during my course. The more funds I raise, the more spectacular and far-reaching the project will be.
How will Covid-19 affect this project?
It is hoped that the course will go ahead in September as planned. Should the Covid-19 situation escalate, there is an alternative proposed date in January 2021.
Should this not take place, and the course is cancelled - I will give you an option for a refund (minus Crowdfunder fees), or the option to continue to support me in this project.
This project will take place, as I believe in its importance and the need for it to come to fruition. Should the course not go ahead, I have a range of mentors who can help me bring this project to life, and I will utilise the course fees for tuition with them. Should this happen, if you choose to continue supporting me, you will receive regular updates as to how things are progressing.
What audience say about my storytelling
"An ocean of inspiration"
"Has the power in making the audience feel in safe hands"
"A beautiful and unique style of telling stories"
"You held everyone spellbound and wove the magic of the stories round us all"
"Magnificent storytelling brought to life"
“There is an honesty to your storytelling that is quite rare”
What people say about the project
“I wanted to say how refreshing it was to hear about the importance of listening to patients and reflecting what you hear back to them. Hopefully others will learn from your study. Thank you”
“You have done a lot for people taking medication, a massive favour”
“I’m glad someone is looking at something like this”
“About time. Your project is really important for people with lived experience”
“Incredibly important for us to hear as healthcare professionals”