There's a special place in the centre of the city of Southampton.

By no means is it hidden away, but with its understated office-block exterior it doesn't draw much attention to itself either. Or at least, it hadn't caught my attention until this week. And why would it? It is a place that is well-known only among those involved in providing mental healthcare in Southampton. News of it spreads by word of mouth among substance abusers, addicts, and generally (but by no means exclusively) the poorest in town.

The New Road Centre
This set of buildings houses a drug and alcohol misuse recovery service. It is run by healthcare professionals and other staff, including volunteers, many of whom are recovering addicts who have benefited from the service themselves. I spent a day there as part of my psychiatry placement.

It's a special place. It's a lifeline for the ones nobody knows. A hope.

This placement has been eye-opening to say the least. I don't want to go specific into all the memorable people I have come across, but it has helped me realise that other worlds exist in the very town that I live in. You get a glimpse of the marginalised in our society, many of whom remain troubled by relationship breakdown, childhood trauma and abuse, years after they happened. These things lend themselves to mental health problems in adulthood, so they present to NHS services.

Michael finds himself dealing with mental health problems in my novel. It's one of the ways he changes. The novel is about this. It's about how he responds to his changing self. It's about how those that know him respond to this different man. And it's about the anchors he holds on to in those wavy seas.


PS: I passed the retake, thankfully. I really want to grow in confidence now. I need to.