Losing Control

Jonathan Zegarra

Today I have temporarily moved into Ellie’s new house as John’s son is staying for half term. With it being the kids’ holidays I also have more hours at the cinema and this is all coinciding with the deadline of my first TMA (Tutor marked assignment).  Trying not to get stressed! I have used the focus point ‘losing control’ for the theme of my assessment and this inspired me to use my experience of mental illness for the free write. When it actually came to writing the story though, I decided to write fiction and make up something unrelated to my experience. I came up with this:

Jenny took a sip from a can of cider and threw her head back laughing, “I can’t wait!” she enthused and passed the can to Tom who was sitting next to her in the back of Gerry’s Ford Fiesta. She looked out of the window and watched as the lights went flashing by in time to the Speed Garage music that was blasting out of the stereo. Kooky Jane in the front passenger seat drank vodka from a china teacup and kept the crew laughing with her hilarious dance moves and witty banter. Kirk was sat on the other side of Tom and was sulking. He wanted to take ecstasy that night but they hadn’t been able to get hold of any. “cheer up” laughed Jane. “Have some vodka” she thrust the teacup towards his face and then promptly spilt vodka on all three of them as Gerry went over a bump in the road. Jenny yelped as cold vodka went on her bare legs and Kirk just glared at Jane. “He’ll be alright once we get in the club” said Tom. “Yeah maybe we’ll be able to get some pills in there.” Mused Kirk. “I should think so, it is Speed Queen.” Said Gerry. “Yay! make sure you get some for me!” sang Jenny. “Yeah for all of us” said Tom. “Ok let’s get this car parked up” said Gerry as they approached the road of the club. In the queue Jenny and Jane shivered in their shiny hot pants and sparkly tops with just furry boots to keep them warm. Once inside, Kirk went off on his mission while the others headed straight for the bar. “Vodka red bulls all round?” asked Tom. “yes please” they chorused, dancing around to the incredible funky house music. Once they had their drinks in hand, Jenny led the others to the dance floor and was absorbed into the electric atmosphere as high energy tunes boomed out of the system. This was her favourite place in the whole world to be. Everyone around her was smiling and dancing, she could feel the love in the air. After a while, Kirk appeared grinning his head off. He kissed Jenny right on the lips and she laughed, shocked and asked him “you found some pills then?” “No, but I did get some mushrooms” “mushrooms?” “Yeah”  “I’ve never taken them before” “well then you are in for a treat. Let’s go and sit down”. They headed for the chill out area and said hi to some familiar faces before finding a corner to sit in. “Yuk!” Jenny made a face and quickly washed them down with Vodka and red bull. “Oh my God, I love this tune!” she screeched as Kings of Tomorrow’s ‘Finally’ beautiful vocals came flowing from the speakers. She jumped up and ran to the dance floor, leaving Kirk behind. She closed her eyes and got completely lost in the sound. A sample of Madonna’s Into the Groove came blasting out and the energy on the floor turned up a notch, people were cheering and whooping. Jenny waved her arms in the air and two men grabbed each hand and pulled her up to the podium. She didn’t realise she was tripping at first then images started to move around. She felt the bass booming in the pit of her stomach and the music became her. She saw Tom in the crowd and called to him. He turned and just in time was able to catch her as she launched herself off the podium. “What are you doing!?” he exclaimed. “I feel amazing! This is the best night of my life!” “You need to be careful, you’re not invincible you know”. “Don’t bring me down Tom, come and dance” Tom gave in and smiled at her, “Kirk gave you some mushrooms didn’t he?” “yeah! Did you have some too?” “no, I don’t like hallucinogens. Bad experience on acid a few years ago.” “Oh you’re missing out Tom, these are really good.” “Nah I’ll pass thanks” he grinned as a huge robot came up to them and started pulling some funky dance moves. Jenny laughed and laughed. She couldn’t stop laughing. Tom had to carry her off the dance floor as he was worried she was going to hyperventilate. Jenny screamed at him. He had turned into a hideous creature with maggots crawling out of his eyes. She looked around – the whole club was full of snakes.

What do you think? I’m not sure of the ending description. I’ve changed it three times already. I quite liked the idea of everyone else turning into terrifying beasts. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Deadline is Thursday!

Writing what you know


This week I have been learning to write about what I know. Reading exerts from ‘Cider with Rosie’ by Laurie Lee and ‘Death of a Naturalist’ by Seamus Heaney to see how descriptions of places can be made. I had to write a piece from my own memory and came up with this:

Grandma would shakily answer the door and give you a big kiss then it would be through to the living room with its huge round rug in a pattern of I think red and pink. Sitting on the possibly leather sofa we would patiently await our egg sandwiches to be wheeled in on the hostess trolley with a side of plain flavoured crisps. On the shelf there were ‘dust gatherers’ as she called them; a 1950s black and white ceramic girl with a full skirt and Jackie O shades, a small silver bell that was shaped like a Victorian woman, a wooden figure of a couple that would turn to kiss when you pressed a button at the back. My sister and I would eagerly check the ‘secret drawer’ which was a drawer in a cabinet in the bathroom where Grandma would always leave some sweeties for us. After lunch, tea would be poured and Grandma would try to teach us how to knit. We would marvel at the new set of knitted dolls she had produced.

My Grandma died two years ago over the new year period at the grand old age of 98. She had lived a good life. I think her death had an impact on me as during my breakdown I felt as though she had been reincarnated into me, hence I had become 100 years old. When Grandma died I did not receive the news straight away as I was partying on the island of Koh Phangan but I was visited by the ghost of Federica Genovese who sadly passed away in February 2013. I also felt her presence when I was psychotic.

This week is going to be quite hectic as I am helping Ellie move house and have spent the whole weekend at her new house helping to paint floors and doors, getting it ready for the move day on Thursday and Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday I am working and today (Monday) I am studying.

Studying hard


I went to my first tutorial at York St Johns this week and met some of my lovely fellow course mates. It was good to meet face to face with the tutor too. I have been studying most days, when I am not working at the cinema. It’s quite challenging but I am enjoying it. We have learnt how to get started with writing through clustering and freewriting. Clustering is when you take a word and make a kind of brainstorm leading to other words that you associate with it. For instance; I clustered on fame and this is one of the strands that I got; FAME –  STARS – SEQUINS – DESIGNER CLOTHES – RED CARPET – HELLO MAGAZINE. I wrote a piece of freewriting from this (when you just write without stopping to think or analyse); Fame:

She’d always wanted to be famous; the parties, money, glamour but now it was a different story. Having the press on her back all the time was so overwhelming and wondering what nonsense stories about her would come out next. The last one was an attack on her ‘size 0’ body which she had achieved through hard work and dieting but had been reported to be ‘starving herself’. It was hard not to take it to heart or get upset. She was waiting for the next story to erupt. She had had a one night stand with Russell Brand and it was bound to come out some time. She didn’t even enjoy it very much, he might have been awarded ‘shagger of the year’ but the person who came up with that award had certainly never had sex with him!

This made me lol! Especially after my obsession with Russell Brand. In the tutorial we clustered on our favourite colour and least favourite colour. Then we made a character using the clusters. This was really interesting! After that we had to write a letter from our character to someone and then write a meeting between the two people. I really enjoyed these tasks and it gave me confidence that I was writing freestyle well. Which is good because it is part of the first assessment which is due in at the end of October.


Power to the people



On Sunday I went to an anti-austerity march with Caroline and John in Manchester where the Conservative conference was taking place. 80,000 people turned out and the police were not prepared for such a turn out so there was a lot of waiting around to begin with. I’m really glad I went though. Caroline and I made a banner which read ‘closing Bootham is mental’. This is in reference to the outrageous recent closure of the only mental hospital in York. I have written to our MP and the Secretary of State for health about it. This is what I have said:

As a patient of Bootham Hospital I can honestly say how truly grateful I am to have received care from the crisis team there when I was indeed in crisis. I am now in the care of the early intervention team who luckily still have their premises on Union Terrace. Without my amazing family around me I would not have recovered so well to be out of crisis. The clues in the name people: CRISIS! These are the most vulnerable people in our society. They need their family around them every day. How is this possible when they’ve been shipped off to Middlesbrough or Scarborough; more than forty miles away? What kind of upheaval must that have been for the mentally unwell? And let’s not forget all the patients who have been conveniently discharged back into the community. I became ill in Thailand where the only hospital in the entire country that is equipped to cope with mental illness costs £1000 per night. And that’s before any medical expenses. Thankfully, I was able to come home and be treated at Bootham Hospital alongside being close to my family. We need to fight for our NHS to stay running and stop the closure of hospitals like Bootham. It is a beautiful and historical building. If it is ‘not fit for purpose’ then put some money into it and make it so. What about all the empty buildings around the site? Why can’t they be converted into treatment rooms? The CQC had already said, months ago, it was not fit for purpose and changes needed to be made, so why weren’t they?   

If you want to help and sign the petition against the closure, please click here. There has not been much coverage in the news about the protest or our fight to save Bootham Hospital so that is why we have to keep on fighting and make ourselves heard.