Fiona Whelpton was born in London on in 1967and now lives in Nottingham. As a youngster Fiona wanted to become a professional musician, but she couldn't because it caused her too much stress - something that her condition dictates she must avoid. Instead she became interested in writing and read English Literature and Media at Nottingham Trent University. She is an accomplished poet having had an anthology of sketch work and poetry called 'Patchwork Windows' published with the 'Lost Artists' group. In 2004 Fiona received the Sainsbury award which will allow her to pursue her dream of being a top journalist, she is currently working on several projects including a film version of 'The Cycle Path'.
"After reading The Cycle Path I came away with a better understanding of the issues sufferers face and of the opportunities."- Sir Nigel Crisp, Chief Executive of the NHS " Delightful and full of expression and pathos." - Sheila Johnson, Christian Herald Article: The Cycle Path of Suffering Publication: Christian Herald Nov 2004 'The Cycle Path' is a semi-autobiographical story written by first time author, Fiona Whelpton. What makes this an unusual tale is that Fiona suffers from a very rare mental health condition known as Conversion Syndrome Disorder. Sufferers of CSD exhibit similar symptoms to Multiple Sclerosis patients, except that the limb paralysis is caused by heightened emotional states which result in the brain sending faulty messages to the central nervous system. Fiona's case was so severe that she experienced episodes of interrupted walking, unconsciousness and loss of speech. For four long years Fiona was unable to find out what was causing her symptoms, all medical tests proving negative. Then one day, quite by chance, Fiona switched on BBC Radio 4 where psychosomatic illnesses were under discussion. Her particular symptoms were tagged as being due to a condition known as Conversion Syndrome Disorder. At last Fiona was able to get the correct medication and keep her condition under control. In preparation for her cognitive therapy treatment, Fiona was asked to keep a record of her emotional experiences and attempt to link them to any changes in her physical condition. Fiona's story is a record of her experiences handling her disability, and she hopes that in publishing her story she may not only aid her own recovery, but also to bring hope and strength to fellow sufferers. Fiona says: "There have been many times when I have felt unable to communicate with people and felt misunderstood. I knew I could write about what it was like to be disabled, but had no intention of attempting to have anything published". Fiona was led to think about publication when hearing from a friend about Jason Pegler and his publishing company Chipmunka Publishing. Fiona saw that the company's raison d'etre was publishing books or material about mental illness, the director of the company himself being a manic depressive. Fiona felt encouraged to send in her own manuscript for a second opinion. She was extremely surprised to receive an email back from Jason, saying that he wanted to publish the book. Jason says: "I have a great deal of admiration for Fiona. Fiona's book and the way she helps others is inspirational to all of us, and proves that people with severe mental ill health can and do get better. The cycled path is also a reminder to us all that those who struggle through adversity and overcome it have the ability and positivity to help others who go through similar hardships. It is a must-read for anyone who feels sorry for themselves." Chipmunka Publishing is the World's first patient-driven Mental Health Publisher. All of the books which the company produces are written by people with mental health problems, and are available to order online from the company website www .chipmunkapublishing.com. Jason says: "Our books are changing the way the world thinks about people with mental health issues. We work with the government, the health service, mental health organisations, charities and private businesses to successfully publish and promote literature that brings a positive attitude towards mental health issues. I call mental illness that last taboo of the 21 st Century". The title of Fiona's book 'The Cycle Path' not only describes one of her favourite walks which features strongly in the story, but also symbolises the journey towards wholeness. The poem which concludes the book is printed below with the author's permission. THE CYCLE PATH As we travel on life's journey It takes us down a path Of rich experiences - that mould us and Make us into the person that we become at the end of the journey. The cycles move forward completing Life's cycle. So we reach our goal and hold onto the journey of Life's rich promises. The book deals with Fiona's struggles as she tries to cope, first with a fairly uncooperative partner and then as a single mum. This proves doubly difficult as Fiona experiences sudden bouts of paralysis, unconsciousness and speech loss. After the separation from her partner, Daniel, she meets a kind and sympathetic man called Peter, but this relationship also seems doomed to failure and ends in Fiona having an abortion. But the book concludes on a strong note as with out the emotional stress a relationship Fiona has, for the most part, been able to regain her physical health, leaving the worst of the symptoms behind her. Since writing this book Fiona has been able to attend a postgraduate journalism course and do work experience at Chipmunka Publishing. She has also been able to write various feature articles about mental health issues, and in March 2004 received the coveted Snowdon Award which helped to fund her journalism course. At the end of the course Fiona would like to travel to Europe , to do some investigative journalism into the state of mental health services abroad. Fiona says: "I had no idea that God would turn my life around and that so many doors would swing wide open in the way that they are now doing. One verse from the Bible kept coming back time and time again: 'I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not harm you, plans for a future and hope'." Sheila Johnson is a journalist based in Cheltenham . Article: Fiona's on the 'Write' Path! Publication: News from the Forum Nov 2004 The newsletter of the Dunkirk & Lenton Partnership forum. Recently, Lenton-based journalist and writer Fiona Whelpton landed a prestigious media award to study at a top journalism school in London , where she is taking a part-time postgraduate NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) course. After receiving a grant of GBP2 000 from the Snowdon Awards Scheme for disabled postgraduates, Fiona was invited to an awards ceremony on 17 th March at the House of Commons in Westminster , and presented to Lord Snowdon. She was accompanied by her publisher and work experience supervisor, Jason Pegler, of Chipmunka Publishing. Fiona's career in journalism began while she was a mature student reading English Literature and Media Studies at Nottingham Trent University , where she contributed to the Student's Union newspaper, Platform. After graduating in 2003, Fiona sent her creative writing dissertation - entitled 'The Cycle Path' - to Chipmunka, specialists in publishing work by writers who have experienced mental illness and physical disability. Fiona's piece is a partly fictional journal focusing on mental health and disability issues. Fiona says, 'I was flabbergasted when I got an email from Jason Pegler, offering me a two-year contract. For the dissertation we'd been told to write about real life experiences. I'd spent four years of my degree being unable to walk off and on. The doctors didn't know what was wrong with me, and I wrote the book in desperation. It helped me to regain my confidence. Even though I have always dreamed of becoming an author, I never dreamed thought that my first piece of work would be accepted immediately'. Fiona' book is set in Lenton, and the title refers to the cycle path behind Abbey Bridge . The story features various local haunts, such as Unity House, and locals may even recognise certain personalities! In Fiona's words, the book is about 'close encounters of the third kind' and a 'romance with a twist'. Sounds intriguing...! Fiona is currently doing an extended work placement with Chipmunka as a freelance journalist. The Cycle Path is due to be published on 10 th October 2004 . It will be available to order from all major bookshops or online at: www .chipmunkapublishing.com Article: Celebrating The Cycle Path Publication: News from the Forum, No. 27, Oct 2004 The newsletter of the Dunkirk & Lenton Partnership forum. Local author Fiona Whelpton's first book, a novella entitled The Cycle Path, is being published by Jason Pegler , author of A Can of madness and CEO of Chipmunkapublishing, the world's leading publisher of books on mental health. The official publi--cation date is set for 8 October when copies of the book will be available from the Chipmunka website, www .chipmunkapublishing.com, and all good bookshops. Jason Pegler says "The Cycle Path is a remarkable story about Fiona Whelpton, who suffers from a rare mental health condition known as 'Conversion Syndrome Disorder'. Causing heightened emotional re--sponses, CSD makes the brain send faulty messages to the central nerv--ous system resulting in limb paraly--sis: the symptoms are identical to Multiple Sclerosis. Fiona's case was so severe that she experienced epi--sodes of interrupted walking, uncon--sciousness, and loss of speech... In order to prepare for cognitive therapy treatment Fiona was asked to keep a record of her emotional experiences and try to link them to changes in her physical condition. Shocked by the scarcity of material on CSD, Fiona realized that not only would writing help her recovery, publishing her story will give other sufferers hope and strength in the face of this rare condition. More widely, Fiona hopes general readers will gain a unique insight into the experience of living with disability thus dispelling some of the myths and prejudices which surround it." Jason continues "I have a great deal of admiration for Fiona; her book and the way she helps others is inspirational to all of us and proves that people with severe mental ill health can and do get better.The Cy--cle Path is also a reminder to us all that those who struggle through ad--versity and overcome it have the ability and positivity to help others who go through similar hardships. It is a must read for anyone who feels sorry for themselves. They will see how Fiona has been through so much but keeps bouncing back. The Cycle Path is also essential reading for any--one who has Conversion Syndrome Disorder or is in a position of caring for people with the condition in the NHS and further afield." There will be a Chipmunka book launch on 12 October at Unity House, Church Street , Lenton, where Fiona will be signing copies of the book. She will be supported by friend and fellow Chipmunka author Dolly Sen , author of a book on schizophrenia, called The World is full of Laughter. Dolly Sen is a world-famous performing poet, who has recently returned from doing a poetry reading event in Waterstones in Amsterdam . She is making a detour to attend the Not tingham Mental Health Awareness Week's Chipmunka events, especially to support Fiona, during her national poetry tour, and will be doing a spe--cial performance at the Royal Festi--val Hall in London on 16 October for World Mental Health day, which is on 10 October. There will be a cheese and wine reception party in Unity House from 7pm onwards, to which all are most welcome, which will also be attended by local poet Steve Plowright. Fiona will be presenting a copy of her book to the Sheriff of Nottingham at the main Nottingham Mental Health Awareness Week's launch in Duncan Macmillon House, Mapperley, on 11 October. The Arts Council of England has awarded a grant to fund the launch and to enable Jason Pegler to attend and talk about the creative arts and mental health. Jason's own book, A Can of Madness, is an autobi--ography about manic depression and is being made into a mainstream Hollywood film. Fiona has also been invited to appear on the BBC's East Midlands Today, to talk about Nottingham Men--tal Health Awareness Week and us--ing the creative arts to help people with mental health difficulties. Not--tingham Mental Health Awareness Week, and Chipmunkapublishing, aim to reduce the stigma and discrimi--nation experienced by those with mental health problems by educat--ing the public. The team from the BBC will be filming at the end of Sep--tember, to go on air as near to 10 October as possible. Article: Making Minds our Business Publication: Nottingham Evening Post, 09/10/04 NOTTINGHAM EVENING POST . MY WEEK Fiona Whelpton of Lenton is the author of The Cycle Path , which tells of her struggle With Conversion Syndrome Disorder, a rare Condition which can cause periods of payalysis, LIKES: Music. I'm from a musical Family, and I have always loved it . And I'm interested In literature and media. My degree is in English and Media studies. DISLIJKES: I'm fairly easy-going , but if there is one thing I cannot stand it is loud noise. I don't find it easy To manage stress and loud noises cause stress. Sunday is a family day , which I spend with my Mother and my son, who is 13. I have taken three months Off a journalism course in London so that I could work on Editing and launching the book and promotional work, including A signing at WH Smith IN Lister Gate last weekend. Writing the book has been both a physical and mental therapy , and my Publisher thinks I will benefit for having more responsibility. I have started work on a novel, which I need to give some time to next week. I'm still at the stage of working on the basic idea and developing some of the Characters. I tend to handwrite my first drafts, because I find it frees my imagination. However, I work on screen once the actual writing process is under way. The novel will be about mental health , but will be more fictional than The Cycle Path. THE CYCLE PATH is published by Chipmunka at GBP10 GBP12 mail order from www .chipmunkapublishing.com. NOSWEAT NEWS, Conversion Course: Valiant Fiona adds book to successes To talk to Fiona Whelpton is to be taught a lesson in how to convert difficulties into success. The ex- noSWeater , who scopped a Snowdon Award which enabled her to come on the noSWeat course ,commuted from her native Nottingham twice a week for the duration of her course. But a tough journey was not the only difficulty with which Fiona has had to contend. For thirteen years she has suffered with conversion syndrome disorder, a psychological condition brought on by anxiety, the cause of which is little understood. But the symptoms are all too real for sufferers. Now Fiona has written a book about learning to live with the confition, and her interest in journalism has come full-circle , as she was approached by East Midlands Today , on the look-out for a story about Nottingham Mental Health Awareness Week. Fiona's book , entitled "The Cycle Path" was launched on October 12 th. Fiona is in the driving seat for the promotion work and has been on local radio (Jason , information has been got wrong here ) She hopes the book will promote a more positive attitude to disability, and raise awareness about the things people with disabilities have to put up with.She says "The message of my book is to help others. If I can help one person cope better my mission will have been completed.No0one takes any notice of you normally, but put a few words down on a piece of paper , and everybody goes berserk." Her advice to fellow students:"Be determined and reliable, and people will notice you and opportunities will come your way." The Cycle Path is a remarkable story about Fiona Whelpton, w ho suffers from a rare mental health condition known as 'Conversion Syndrome Disorder'. Causing heightened emotional responses, CSD makes the brain send faulty messages to the central nervous system resulting in limb paralysis. The symptoms are identical to Multiple Sclerosis. Fiona's case was so severe that she experienced episodes of interrupted walking, unconsciousness, and loss of speech. Not knowing the diagnosis of her condition for four years led Fiona to try to find out as much as she could about what might be causing her symptoms. Switching on Radio 4 quite by chance she heard a discussion about psychosomatic illnesses describing her symptoms exactly, their subject was Conversion Syndrome Disorder. At last, after four years of tests proving negative (one of the main symptoms of the condition), Fiona was able get the correct medication and started to improve immediately. In order to prepare for cognitive therapy treatment Fiona was asked to keep a record of her emotional experiences and try to link them to changes in her physical condition. Shocked by the scarcity of material on CSD Fiona realized that not only would writing help her recovery, publishing her story will give other sufferers hope and strength in the face of this rare condition. More widely Fiona hopes general readers will gain a unique insight into the experience of living with disability thus dispelling some of the myths and prejudices which surround it. During the Cycle Path Fiona experiences great forms of anguish including difficult pregnancy, abortion, being a single mother, domestic violence and describes the pain of her condition with much pathos. What makes the reader want to read on is Fiona's forgiving nature and the positive way that Fiona is able to keep moving forward and battle successfully with the condition. I have a great deal of admiration for Fiona. Fiona's book and the way she helps others is inspirational to all of us and proves that people with severe mental ill health can and do get better. The Cycle Path is also a reminder to us all that those who struggle through adversity and overcome it have the ability and positivity to help others who go through similar hardships. It is a must read for anyone who feels sorry for themselves. They will see how Fiona has been through so much but keeps bouncing back. The Cycle Path is also essential reading for anyone who has Conversion Syndrome Disorder or is in a position of caring for people with the condition in the NHS and further a field. Fiona's book will be available to order from the Chipmunkapublishing website at www .chipmunkapublishing.com and from all good book shops worldwide from the 8 th of October. JASON PEGLER - CEO of Chipmunkapublishing