Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon review – clinical diagnosis

The bestselling novelist and former psychiatrist gives a compelling view of modern medicine

Before Joanna Cannon became a bestselling novelist with The Trouble With Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie, she was a doctor specialising in psychiatry. In Breaking and Mending, she brings her literary talents to her previous career in a memoir brimming with her trademark compassion and psychological insight.

In the opening chapter, Cannon sets out one of the core themes of the book, like the opening of a Bach prelude and fugue to which she will return in various ways throughout the following pages: “We imagine, strangely, that they [doctors] are invincible… [we] hold on to the belief that a doctor has the power to save us – and if they are unable to save themselves, what hope does it offer to anyone else?”

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How to survive a Twitter storm

Tanya Gold published a piece about a plus-size mannequin one Sunday. By Monday morning the internet had gone mad and was out for her blood

It was my fault. Sometimes I write glibly. I make an argument for myself and forget that people read it. It still surprises me, after 20 years of writing, to think that I have readers: that my internal monologue is out and about in the world. I do not think about them. If I did, I couldn’t write anything.

In June, I wrote a piece about Nike’s obese mannequin, which was displayed at the London flagship shop to publicise Nike’s new willingness to sell clothes to overweight women. It makes me laugh now to think I insulted a mannequin – how, on that day in 2019, we came to discuss human rights for mannequins. I said it was a cynical doll from a cynical company that is no friend to women. I said that the normalisation of obesity frightens me, because I can see the outcome of addiction to sugar in myself. I said that the “fat acceptance” movement is an abyss of denial. I said the mannequin was “gargantuan” and “heaving with fat”. I said it might get diabetes – if it had flesh. I said that if it ran, it would ruin its inhuman knees.

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Anorexia: why embarrassment still stops so many men from getting help

The testimony of celebrities has helped raise awareness of eating disorders in males. But 90% still suffer in silence

Daniel Magson’s worst moment came as a 21-year-old university student. “I found myself making myself sick in the bathroom,” he says. “My throat was bleeding and I was nearly passing out from the pain.

“I can vividly remember lying on the bathroom floor, praying and thinking, ‘kill me’. I didn’t believe that there was a way out and I was totally OK with that.”

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Heritage healing: why historic houses improve wellbeing

Staying in a landmark building has been found to counteract stress and anxiety

With its low gables and sunny verandahs, the empty former cottage hospital of Winsford is a building like no other in the world. The result of a philanthropic dream shared by a rich widow and a leading Victorian architect, in the 119 years since the ailing people of north Devon were first welcomed under its slate roof, the place has aided many a recovery, including shell-shocked soldiers seeking sanctuary from first world war trenches.

And soon Winsford, at Halwill Junction near Beaworthy, will be helping people again. The disused hospital, designed by Charles Voysey as a gift from the wealthy Maria Medley to the surrounding rural communities between Dartmoor and the coast, and now being restored by the Landmark Trust, is the latest example of a growing faith in the healing powers of heritage buildings. For in the same way that walks through Britain’s forests are now being prescribed as an effective way to help counteract anxiety and stress, so the conservation trusts and charities of the heritage industry are starting to promote the power of ruins and historic buildings to improve mental wellbeing.

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Breaking the menopause taboo: ‘There are vital stories we should continue to pursue’

Our science correspondent reflects on our recent series exploring the under-reported issue of ‘the change’

The menopause used to be ominously referred to as “the change” – an entire life stage relegated to a euphemism. And, although it directly affects half the population, it has remained a stubbornly taboo topic.

Now the shroud of secrecy has finally started to lift. High-profile women are discussing their experiences – or even just acknowledging them. Accepting an award on a freezing night in New York, Emma Thompson joked in her acceptance speech: “It’s such a cold night and it’s the only time I’ve actively been grateful for menopause.”

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Sick! festival review – a funny, heartfelt poke at the biggest taboos

Various venues, Manchester
From dance to comedy to video, this series of events confronts illness, grief and death with uplifting candour

The title of Candoco Dance Company’s show, Let’s Talk About Dis, might as well be the strapline for Manchester’s Sick! festival. The three-week series of events themed around mental and physical health frames itself as a public conversation. It’s an opportunity, through art, to talk about illness, disability and death – things that usually languish in agonised or embarrassed silence.

Candoco want to talk about what it is to be a company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. What does it mean when we’re invited to look at this range of different bodies on stage, and how can we discuss that? Made with Hetain Patel in 2014 and reiterated with different groups of dancers, Let’s Talk About Dis plays humorously with candour, awkwardness and polite concealment. In a short series of sketches, the show scratches away at assumptions and identity, while the performers confound typical expectations of what dancing bodies can or should do. A wheelchair gracefully spins, pivots and tilts; a pair of crutches become surprisingly agile extra limbs.

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Mother sells house to buy daughter’s medical cannabis

Elaine Levy says she has spent £30k on private supply despite prescriptions being made legal

The mother of a severely epileptic woman has put her house up for sale after spending her family’s savings on private prescriptions for medical cannabis.

Elaine Levy, the mother of 25-year-old Fallon, who has Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, said she has been forced to sell up in an attempt to fund her daughter’s ongoing care after spending more than £30,000.

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Dozens of people poisoned this year by salmonella-infected British eggs

Since January at least 45 consumers have fallen ill, investigation finds, despite assurances that risk was virtually eliminated

Dozens of people have been poisoned after consuming British eggs contaminated with salmonella, an investigation has found, despite recent government assurances that the risk had been virtually eliminated.

At least 45 consumers have fallen ill since January this year in a major disease outbreak health officials have traced back to contaminated eggs and poultry farms. Salmonella can cause food poisoning and – in the most serious cases – can prove fatal. Public Health England (PHE), which monitors salmonella, is not aware of any deaths.

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Welsh-speaking NHS patients ‘put at risk’ by language barrier

Health service urged to ensure staff can speak to patients in their own tongue

Welsh-speaking patients are suffering and may even be put at risk if they cannot communicate with health professionals in their own tongue, the country’s language commissioner is warning.

Aled Roberts said young children brought up in Welsh-speaking households and bilingual adults who lose their grasp of English when they suffer conditions such as dementia are particularly vulnerable.

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English consuming more sugar despite tax and anti-obesity drive

Public Health England figures deal blow to government’s drive to combat obesity

Sugar consumption in England has risen despite the success of the sugar tax on fizzy drinks and food firms making foods such as cereals and yogurt healthier, research shows.

The increase in sugar intake is a blow to the government’s drive to combat obesity, which was intended to reverse the upward trend in consumption.

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