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Book Review: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
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In The Dead Zone John Smith wakes up from a 4 year coma with the ability to see the past and the future of the people he touches.

Some people see this ability as a gift from God. But for John, he sees it as a curse.

It all started 4 years ago when John, a Teacher, took his date Sarah, also a Teacher, to the Fair.

John is also known as Johnny in The Dead Zone and these names will be used interchangeably throughout this review.

All was going well until John tried his luck on The Wheel of Fortune. The first time he wins. Then the second and third time to. Again and again he wins. He just can’t loose, despite his head feeling like somebody is going at it with a jack hammer.

Continued below…

Meanwhile Sarah has become ill and is being violently sick after eating a bad hot dog. Johnny takes Sarah home and then calls a taxi.

Johnny’s taxi journey home is where it all goes wrong. A car driving on the wrong side of the road crashes into the taxi at speed, causing the deaths of the boy driving the car on the wrong side of the road and the taxi driver. John is propelled out of the taxi through the windshield and goes into a coma.

When Johnny wakes up, he discovers that everything has changed. His body is weak, despite being exercised with physiotherapy while he was comatose. His mind has a Dead Zone, a microscopic part of his brain that has been damaged. This Dead Zone causes him not to be able to imagine certain things and is perhaps also causing his new found ability to see people’s past and future by touching them.

John’s father seems to have dramatically aged much more than the 4 years that has passed. His mother who was always a religious woman, has become fervent religionist. Sarah is now married to another man and has a child.

As Johnny works hard to recover and rebuild his life. As he does so, he makes some startlingly accurate predictions including: finding the location of his Doctor’s lost mother, preventing a fire from becoming serious in his Physiotherapists house, telling Sarah where her lost wedding ring is, identifying a serial murderer and predicting a serious fire caused by lightening. Johnny soon makes news with his predictions and rides out the media storms the best he can.

Johnny doesn’t really want any of this. He just wants a normal life and more importantly the normal life the car accident robbed him of. But he knows that this is not possible. Too much has changed.

Johnny does various bits of work and creates a little hobby of shaking politician’s hands to see the future of election results. That is until he shake that hand of Greg Stillson. John sees Stillson becoming President and what a dangerous one he’ll be.

John becomes obsessed with Stillson and starts getting head-splitting headaches. John finds himself debating whether he would kill Hitler if time travel was possible. He decides that he would and that the same action needs to be taken to prevent Stillson from ever becoming President.

Every element of The Dead Zone was excellent and enjoyable. The description pulls the reader into the story from the beginning and until the end. The characters were charming, cunning and crafty. Johnny was particularly appealing and interesting, with the reader feeling for and relating to this character from the start of the book.

The plot was intriguing, fascinating and full of unpredictable, but perfectly pleasant twists and turns. The pacing was perfect at all times and felt like a car with cruise control doing 70MPH on the motorway.

The only tiny criticism of The Dead Zone was John’s name. John Smith. The story makes clear from the outset that John is an average guy, who happens to have something that’s both bad and brilliant happen to him. So using such a common place name to represent that he’s an average guy was not required. It stuck me as either lazy or uninventive on King’s behalf.

The Dead Zone is without any doubt a King classic. The Dead Zone is available to buy on Amazon and at all good book shops.

Review soon,



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Life Hiatus – My Mental Health In-Patient Admission and Diagnosis of a ‘Mood Disorder’

By Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Health, Life, Money / Finances, Shopping, Thinking2 Comments

My Nameband.

Recently, I had to take an unexpected what-I-call Life Hiatus. My mental health had gradually deteriorated to the point were I was having severe and erratic mood swings. Everyone’s mood fluctuates throughout the day, but not to the extremes I was experiencing.

People talk about good and bad days with depression. I was having good, bad, okay or mixed mood states lasting between 45 minutes to 4-6 hours. These mood swings were unpredictable with no pattern. They didn’t have triggers and were not related to a critical inner voice.

These mood swings were torturous. See My Mood Swing Table below for details of what these mood swings were like.

I felt desperate for the mood swings to end. To the point of having suicidal ideation and a clear plan of action.

I had thought that I was objective about my mental health. But because the mood swings had gradually got worse I hadn’t realised how unwell I was. I sought help because three people close to me said that I wasn’t well. Luckily I had these people around me and knew that could trust them, even if I couldn’t trust myself.

So I went to my local A&E. I was assessed by a Mental Health Nurse and together we decided that I needed admission. I stayed on the A&E Ward overnight, whilst I waited for an available bed on a mental health ward.

The next evening, I was transferred to a mental health ward. On arrival at the ward, my possessions were searched and Nursing Staff took my shoe laces, belt, hoodie (due to cord in hood), phone charger, lighters and medication. The ward layout was a square shaped main corridor with dormitories, individual rooms and many other rooms that where behind locked doors.

The first night was frightening. Everything about the place was frightening. The environment. The locked doors. The routine. The rules I hadn’t been told. The other patients. The staff. I even found my own mood swings frightening. At one point, I was physically shaking uncontrollably due to the fear and anxiety.

I was assessed by a Psychiatrist and commenced on 10 minute observations. It would be a few days before I was reviewed. At the time, I couldn’t understand why they appeared to be doing very little to help me and my state of mind. But afterwards, I realised that they had wanted to observe me and see my mood swings for themselves.

The Consultant Psychiatrist diagnosed me with a ‘Mood Disorder.’ Here is a definition of a ‘mood disorder:’

mood disorder
a psychological disorder characterized by the elevation or lowering of a person’s mood, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

(From: Google, Last Accessed: Friday 27th November 2015.)

The Consultant Psychiatrist informed me that they were reluctant to give a more specific diagnosis on the first admission to a mental health ward. I told the Consultant Psychiatrist that I didn’t care what they called it, as long as they gave me some medication that worked. I explained that with some stability in mood, I could make further psychological and behavioural changes to help myself to get well and stay well.

I was started on Quetiapine, an antipsychotic and mood stabiliser medication. It was to help to take the edge off my mood swings and give me some stability of mood. I was also started on Mirtazapine, an antidepressant. This was to help to manage the depression/low moods.

Overall, I was an in-patient on the mental health ward for about 12 days. During this time, my Mum and good friend Steve were superb. They took over all my responsibilities and made sure that everything in the outside world was sorted, meaning that I didn’t have to worry about anything – apart from getting better.

I will never be able to thank Mum and Steve enough for what they have done for me, but I have repeatedly thanked them anyway. I will never be able to explain how much I appreciate them for everything that they have done for me, but I have tried to explain anyway.

I feel that I got to this crisis point because I waited so long to get referred to and assessed by Community Mental Health Services. It feels like Community Mental Health Services are designed to keep people out, rather than let people in to get the help and support that they need and in most cases are asking for. This is probably because of a lack of resources in mental health services. But this really doesn’t help and support people with mental health problems to get and stay well.

I have been discharged from the hospital and am and engaged with Community Mental Health Services. Recovery will be a slow and progressive one. I am taking the medication as prescribed, attending appointments with community services and setting myself daily goals that I am currently achieving.

Write soon,


My Mood Swing Table
Mixed Mood States
Physical Symptoms
  • High energy levels.
  • Very productive.
  • Difficulty in getting/staying asleep.
  • Head aches.
  • Speaking Quickly.
  • Hypersexualised.
  • Relatively symptom free. Considering the extreme High and Low physical symptoms.
  • Exhaustion – despite sleeping for many, many hours.
  • Back pain and stomach pain that doesn’t resolve with appropriate treatments.
  • Head aches.
  • Constipation.
  • Physical anxiety symptoms: raised pulse and blood pressure.
  • A mix of high, low and okay physical symptoms to varying degrees of severity.
Mental / Cognitive Symptoms
  • Racing thoughts – lots of ideas, but struggling to focus on one for long enough.
  • Difficulty in concentrating.
  • A rush of ideas for creative projects.
  • Saying whatever I think without considering the implications of what I’m saying.
  • Grandiose thinking – Thinking I can do anything to a level beyond the level of an expert.
  • Thinking that I understand things on a much deeper level than everyone else.
  • Short-term memory loss.
  • Insomnia and night terrors.
  • Slower mental and cognitive functioning, compared to when I was well.
  • Limited/no concentration span.
  • Short-term memory loss.
  • Critical inner voice.
  • Thoughts about what other people negatively think about me.
  • Insomnia and night terrors.
  • Concern about loosing my mind.
  • A mix of high, low and okay mental / cognitive symptoms to varying degrees of severity.
  • Concern about loosing my mind.
  • Concern about what mood would come next and its severity.
Emotional Symptoms
  • Excessively joyful with no reason for this state of mood.
  • Super confident. Loads of self-esteem.
  • Excessively excited again without reason.
  • Feeling like I can do anything.
  • Feeling frustrated or irritable without a reason.
  • Varying levels of anxiety, from worried to outright panic.
  • Void of any emotion.
  • Zombified. Feeling like what I imagine a zombie feels like.
  • Going through the motions.
  • Despair and hopelessness.
  • No confidence and rockbottom self-esteem.
  • Feeling frustrated or irritable without a reason.
  • Feeling like I am falling down a dark bottomless pit.
  • Feeling guilt, inadequacy and feeling like a failure.
  • Varying levels of anxiety, from worried to outright panic.
  • Desperation – wanting the mental and emotional anguish to end.
  • Feeling like my mind, body and soul are being devoured and destroyed.
  • A mix of high, low and okay emotional symptoms to varying degrees of severity.
Behavioural Examples
  • Being super productive.
  • Being overtly social.
  • Take on too many commitments, thinking that I can do everything.
  • Impulsive behaviours – including excessive shopping, even when I don’t have the money.
  • Unfinished tasks – sometimes being unable to focus for long enough on tasks to complete them.
  • Able to function, but only just.
  • Loss of interest in leisure activities.
  • Unable to watch TV, read or do other leisure activities.
  • Overeating or forcing myself to eat despite having no appetite.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • No motivation.
  • Reckless spending of money – mostly through online shopping.
  • Social anxiety – isolating myself and avoiding social situations.
  • A mix of high, low and okay behaviours to varying degrees of severity.


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There’s A Bug Going Round

By Health, LifeNo Comments
illness There’s a bug going round and I’ve got it. It started with a headache across my forehead and has spread downwards. Blocking my nose, making it stream like a cold water tap turned fully on. Complete with added sneezes. My sore throat that feels like I’ve swallowed razor blades and definitely has a look of tonsillitis – all red, swollen and angry. A raspy cough, which is sporadic and managing to keep me awake. High temperatures at times and feeling chilled to my bones other times.

I know people talk about man flu; but the bug is completely wiping me out. Thank the goddess/god for Lemsip – Blackcurrant and Strepsils.

I hope that you don’t catch this nasty bug going round. Normal blogging shall resume when I’m feeling better.

Take care of yourself…oh and avoid the infected like it’s the plague.


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