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'A Life of Two Halves' - Mike Wetson

Across Staffordshire, many people experience getting some type of mental health support, whether that be counselling, practising mindfulness, or even using Peer Support Groups. One such person is Mike Wetson, who has published the inspiring story of his mental health experiences in his new book ‘A life of Two Halves’.

“With its vibrant memories of times past a life of two halves is a must-read. For anyone who loves Lichfield, Mike displays a razor-sharp memory for times, dates, names, and places, and takes you on an eye-opening adventure of the years from his birth in the fifties until the present. It's also a book, which should be read by anyone with an interest in mental and physical healthcare.

Mike really has gone through the mill over the years, and he alternatively makes you want to laugh with him and weep for him, as he openly shares the ups and downs of living with bipolar and related issues. Ultimately, however, this is a tale of hope. Mike says modestly that if he can get through the things which life throws up, then anyone can”.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to get to have a conversation with Mike all about this book and his inspirations behind why he wrote it. He says “I wanted to not glorify me, but to be an example of me to show others that if I can do it, anybody can do it with a bit of faith and a sense of humour. To just show that it can be done to get through that tunnel and get through the other end.

There are a few twists and turns and dips as you can appreciate probably, but basically, I got through it”.

When experiencing mental health problems such as depression or anxiety it can at times be very difficult to see the way through, it can feel impossible. This is why stories such as Mike’s are so important and powerful, they show that it is possible.

During the 70s Mike would play Sunday League football and even go down to support his favourite football team Aston Villa, in part that is linked to the name of the book ‘A game of Two Halves’.

“It's a play on words, a game of two halves as a commentator says, well, I thought, well, I'll play on that and put a life of two halves. But actually, when I do my talks on Zoom or in public, I say it should be called a life of three halves because I'm bipolar. I've got ulcerative colitis, and I'm an Aston Villa fan.”

Throughout our conversation, Mike spoke about the things in his life, that often help him with his mental health. One such thing was his family, which includes his partner and son who have been there for him throughout his journey.

Having a support network around you can be wonderful for your mental health, whether that be having someone to talk to about what you are experiencing, or in Mike’s case his son would often be able to identify when he was struggling and give a helpful nudge.

Of course, it doesn’t always have to be friends or family as part of your support network, “The saying is phone a friend but there are a lot of groups about now they are in Lichfield and I believe they are in Burton, these warm spaces and things where you can mix with like-minded people and share your thoughts, visions and worries.

When I’m poorly, I get the recurring thoughts over and over in my head and if I can offload or speak out these words, it takes the pressure up”.

Faith has also played a part in Mike’s mental health journey. During a talk with someone who had done the service for his Dad’s funeral, he asked “How come I’ve got through all this and I’m still here?” To which the man replied by putting his hand on Mike’s knee and saying “Mike, you've been touched by God. He said, you know, you, you've realized. You can't do it on your own”. He then gave Mike a copy of a poem called Footsteps, a poem where Jesus is walking down on the sand beside a man.

“And when Chap says to him there is only one set of footsteps that are occasionally along this path, he said, yes, that's because when I was carrying you, and it actually means a lot to me. Although I don't go to church now as often as I'd like, I've got faith and I realized that I couldn't get through all this on my own.”

Poems are something that Mike enjoys writing when he feels to be in a productive mood, writing multiple throughout the day! He says “It’s a good way of getting your thoughts out and all that sort of stuff. It’s a safety valve”.

“I bottle it up and then put it on print and then it relieves tension. And once I've written it, I can't remember what I've written. I have to read it over and over again. My ambition and I have written one or two lyrics, but I'd like to put, get what they put to music”.

Mike also spoke about his other interests, “Another hobby I've got, it's photography. I like taking photographs of the sky and landscapes and things like that. Um, and. Actually, I like talking as well. I know it sounds so very self-opinionated, but I want to spread the word not to be frightened in mental health and get rid of the stigma that has been around for many years before, even before I have come onto the scene”.

Stigmas are unfortunately something that surrounds the topic of mental health, and can often be quite dangerous. For example, people can often fear that people experiencing mental health problems make them dangerous, which is simply not true.

However, it can make people who are experiencing scared to seek support or talk to the people around them out of fear of how they’ll react. No one should ever feel scared to seek vital support for their mental health, but it does ask the question, how are we going to break down these stigmas?

“I suppose really it's talking to other people that are in the same position and sharing with them your views and sharing your thoughts on how you cope. I find that if I could talk to groups and share my experiences, I've got more empathy with service users through my personal experiences”.

This year will mark the 50th Anniversary of Mike receiving mental health support through the NHS, which Mike speaks fairly highly of. “Very good. I can't fault anybody. I've not as far as I can remember had a bad nurse at all in any shape or form. In fact, I called the good nurses and the doctors in the NHS Angels because that was their nickname many years ago and they certainly looked after me.”

Even saying that if he had time again “I wouldn’t be bookkeeper, I’d be an unqualified mental health nurse or support worker”, spoke volumes to the character of Mike. Having been through his mental health journey, and wanting to use that experience to help others who are going through similar.

‘A life of Two Halves’ is truly an inspiring book, about living through mental health…and of course being a Villa fan. If you are interested in giving the book a read, and learning more about Mike you can pick up a copy through the following methods.

Contacting us at Burton and District Mind:

Through Staffs Network in Lichfield:

Contacting Mike directly at:

Mike also said, “if anybody's interested or wants to talk on a one-to-one about it, I'm quite happy to do that I'm, I'm quite willing to meet somebody over a coffee and have a chat about it and see if I can help in any way”.

The book costs £8 plus postage and packaging, with Mike also kindly donating some of the profits from each book sold towards the vital work that we do here at Burton and District Mind. This is something that we really appreciate, as it will help us be able to continue running our mental health services!

Thank you to Mike for his support towards Burton and District Mind, and for having this interview!


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