More threads by JJ


It might strike you as odd but I have started singing about mental illness! But yes I have one and I have self-harmed to boot! It is not my intention to belittle the pain it causes but just try and get folk to listen.

I am a writer and I wrote a book about living with a biploar disorder a while back - The Naked Bird Watcher and then my mother wrote her account of my journey of recovery with To Walk on Eggshells. This has seen me become more and more involved in raising awareness of mental illness and self-harm.

However, my first love is music. Ironically it was mental illness that caused me to learn to play the guitar in the first place. I bought a dead cheap guitar and taught myself to play and it was a wonderful way of taking my mind off the dreadful stuff that was going on in my head at that time. Since then, I have played in a few bands and in loads of places - including LA. I served a long apprenticeship of 14 years on the circuit of clubs and dives in the UK learning my craft. Now I have formed an acoustic duo and we promote a positive message on mental illness, self-harm and comment on the social issues that affect the young of today. We are called Bad Alice so hopefully we can assure some people and raise the issues that affect us in a different way and I hope it will help some of you with its message that you can get through this. And it might even help your friends and families understand.

Travel safely,

Suzy Johnston
Jean Johnston


Music and Song: Counreacting Stigma and Mental Illness

By the way - if anyone is interested in the music about mental illness you can read about it on the Bad Alice website at

And to see what else I am up to you can check out The Cairn

I have been very greatful for the encouragement that I have received from David Baxter - so thanks for that DB!

Suzy Johnston


The update on Bad Alice is that we have a CD available now called 'Walk in my Shoes'.

Again the aim is to raise awareness, help people feel less alone and isolated and remind you that no matter how bad it may seem YOU can get through this. Also I think if more folk were open about what we have to deal with, we could go someway to remove the stigma which makes things even more difficult.

I don't know about how others feel/felt but one of the most dreadful things I remember is that I thought that no-one else in the world could feel as I did. Knowing that others do/did made such a difference. Also there is no doubt that if more people were more insightful and understanding then it would make life easier - my friends wish that they had known more about mental illess when I became ill. So that is the aim of Bad Alice - to try and reach people and raise awareness through a less conventional route.

Travel safely,

Suzy - Bad Alice


Scottish press getting to understand mental illness

Thanks to the Scottish 'seeme' campaign, press in Scotland are beginning to be better at reporting on mentl illness.

Mental Health Week has had a good and fair coverage in the Scottish press - see post on soccer player Neil Lennon for example.

The review of the Bad Alice CD this week was just great - great in that here was a reporter who actually understood what Bad Alice is trying to do!

Music Review from Livewire, The Lennox Herald.

CD - Walk in My Shoes by Bad Alice

This first CD by Bad Alice was written from the perspective of Suzy Johnston who has battled with bipolar disorder. Suzy works magic in her lyrics to show how your life can turn around from dark times.

The Bad Alice line-up, Suzy and pal Lindsay Robertson, are singers and guitarists who resist the temptation to hide behind the studio music boards and give an untreated but true acoustic offering. The eight track provide a rocky vibe and, although a bit on the raw side, that seems to be the desired effect.

'Revolution' features high pitched vocals about Suzy's admission to a psychiatric unit and the rough ride she had. She talks about 'rocky elevation' to recovery and turns the negative around.

Undoubtedly the best is 'Elemental' which begins with a soothing melody, building tension to the pivotal third verse and coming to terms with accepting responsibility to work your way out of trouble by choosing your destiny.

This is the latest step Suzy has taken in her recovery, following her book 'The Naked Bird Watcher' and she aims to help others by charting her experience.

Walk on My Shoes is available at Bookworms, Helensburgh and can be downloaded online at Bad Alice Music - Home

If all the media could deliver positive and insightful messages on mental illness such as the examples of the above and the one on Neil Lennon the soccerplayer, then the prejudice and stigma would fade and that would make life much easier all round.

JJ/Suzy/Bad Alice
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