the heart of the book is sincere and the linguistic skill exemplary. I can’t think of a more astute way to begin the discussions about mental health that must begin than his analysis of how phrases like “I cracked up” or “I broke down” or “I lost it” can have very different meanings in different contexts. There is only a spectrum of psychological states. My mantra are my Dad’s words: “is it fixable?”
He was scared and confused. But he also believed he was a secret agent following orders from MI6. Staging this bizarre crash was part of a mission to secure global peace. To achieve this noble goal, Clare believed his handlers had instructed him to post banknotes down drains and marry Kylie Minogue. Absurd, of course. The stuff of pre-teen make-believe. But readers of Clare’s game-changing memoir of “madness, mania and healing” will be struck by the fact that a mind so recently dominated by straight-to-DVD fantasies is now capable of reflecting on them with so much gentle wisdom and acute self-awareness. And in such beautiful, witty prose.
The book changes tone as Clare retraces the steps of his breakdown, meeting the police officers, social workers and nurses who helped him. He interviews specialist researchers, most of whom are sceptical of the long-term benefits of medication. “The very names of the pills make them sound official, effective, unarguable,” Clare writes. Yet “much of it turns out to be guesswork”. He makes the case for “therapies involving nature, exercise, mindfulness, art, creativity and horticulture, [and] conversations with therapists”.