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CHRIS BARCHARD LEAVING STATEMENT
It is with great reluctance that I have been forced to give up chairing National Perceptions Forum after many years. Having first joined in the early 1990s I have had two periods as Chair, totalling about 9 years. The last period was over 6 years continuously. During this time I have seen Perceptions Forum grow into its present form from a network of local groups and a national meeting to having an excellent magazine, a large website www.perceptionsforum.org.uk, conferences, a poetry competition and more recently a DVD about the history and development of Perceptions Forum, which I very much enjoyed filming and editing. This DVD is available from the office for £3.00 inc postage and packing. None of this would have been possible without the active support of our members, who I would like to thank for producing such a steady stream of high quality articles, poems, cartoons, artwork and even recorded music. Some examples of this last are downloadable from the website.
Amongst the things I have done is make a study of the drugs many of us are compelled to take, particularly antipsychotics. I have written about these on a number of occasions and I have very mixed feelings about them due to their dangerous side-effects. I have never been as aware of these as I am now since I am now likely to die prematurely from serious illnesses which in all likelihood are strongly associated with taking these drugs over many years. I am continuing to take them now because I really do not want an episode of psychosis which puts me in a mental hospital again. The stress of this would make me much more ill and most of the damage the drugs may have caused frankly will have been done by now. I have tried to stop taking them a number of times over the years and it has always resulted in an admission. Although this may sound grim I am not in the least downhearted and enjoying life more if anything than I was before. But I am having to take it easier and avoid undue stress. Chairing Perceptions Forum was a rewarding but taxing position. I wish my successor Keith Hall every success and hope that Perceptions will continue to be a vibrant organisation and be the principal forum for those who have the misfortune, as I do, to have been labelled with some form of severe mental illness.
I shall continue to be involved with Perceptions Forum in what ways I feel able and will miss seeing all the people I have got to know at meetings.