A GP diagnosed me with ‘acute anxiety’ – only to exacerbate it

In 2008, after his first child was born and before he was due to get married, Tom Lee began to unravel. It was as if, he explains in his fragile and unforgettable memoir, ‘some internal switch had been clicked or shorted, leaving my body and mind in a state of unrelenting and unsolvable emergency’. The breakdown began in his body: tight headache, nausea, a stiffness in his hands so extreme he couldn’t hold a pen. Welts erupted on the surface of his skin; he ate only bananas, one half at a time. The discarded halves blackened around the house. He was unable to work or sleep; but these early weeks

Our provision for adults with learning disabilities is seriously inadequate

This book reveals one man’s determination to enable his brother to live his best life. It is also a fable for our time. It hints at how we all might live if we turned the lens on the world. ‘Does Reuben have a learning disability’ asks Manni Coe, ‘or do we have an understanding disability?’ Coe’s younger brother Reuben, now 39, has Down’s syndrome. In Coe senior describes their loving upbringing in Yorkshire and Berkshire as other people stared, and Reuben’s adventures living a supported, partially independent adult life. Reuben visited another brother in the US (being able at that stage to fly unaccompanied) and enjoyed part-time voluntary jobs,

A draining experience: Insignificance, by James Clammer, reviewed

Spare a thought for the white van man. It’s not yet nine on a summer’s morning and already Joseph, a plumber and the hero of James Clammer’s arresting novel, is having a pig of a day. He’s slept poorly. It’s the umpteenth day of a heat wave, and the biscuits left by his client Amanda Margaret Hollander are ‘a dispiriting selection, childish and sugary… unmanly biscuits’. Plus, despite her tight, ‘iridescent’ trousers, Amanda Margaret seems uninterested in a ‘little dallying, a little flirting’ and dashes off, leaving him to the job. Which, it transpires, is far more difficult than promised: ‘Truly, if it isn’t one thing it’s the other.’ For

Why French car-boot sales are good for my mental health

Hairpin bends in a stony forest. Downhill. Steep, then steeper. Smooth frictionless tarmac. I’ve got the car barely under control. A narrow bridge over a ravine. Single file only. A van hurtling uphill. A recessed drain — unavoidable. Bang, crash, wallop. The car continues but feels mortally wounded. We limp to a passing place 50 yards further down the hill and I cut the engine. I get out and inspect the damage. A back tyre is as flat as a dab. It’s not my car. I open the boot hoping to uncover the requisite tools and spare wheel. Jack, spare wheel, warning triangle — present. Excellent. Wheel brace? Unfortunately not.