Former nurse illuminates the effects of abuse

June 27, 2022

I have just finished reading Anne Thurston’s recently published book Notes from Inside: A courageous woman’s experiences of domestic violence and mental illness.

Writing under a pseudonym, Thurston is a former nurse and midwife who first came to the attention of Kaitiaki Nursing New Zealand in 2010 when she submitted an article entitled “Believing in the Paradigm of Recovery”. This described her 18-month psychotherapeutic journey to recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Two years later, she published a second article, “Midwife brings her whole-of-life experience to give the best care”. The publication of these two articles was the kickstart Anne needed to write in greater depth about her experiences of mental illness and recovery. Thus, Notes from Inside was born.

Described in the foreword as “a collection of lived-experience vignettes” written between 2010 and 2021, the book is beautifully written and a courageous insight into Thurston’s life and myriad experiences — some good, many deeply traumatic.

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Thurston’s own experience of intimate partner abuse does not involve physical attack – rather it is characterised by power control and silent violence.

The book is not an easy read, particularly part four which describes her sister’s experience of mental illness. This blighted the latter years of her life (“My brilliant, gorgeous sister was reduced to a shell of her previous self”) but a kind of catharsis is reached in her final months when the two sisters find some mutual healing.

Thurston’s own experience of intimate partner abuse does not involve physical attack – rather it is characterised by power control and silent violence. She describes this as being “just as toxic and harmful” to the victims as physical violence.

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Thurston hopes her book will be a learning tool, a way for others to recognise what is happening in their lives and to find the courage to make their own changes. Readers could be nurses, police, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and so on. The appendix contains critiques of some of the stories by a trauma specialist psychotherapist.

I hope she keeps on writing, offering readers ongoing glimpses into the reality of mental illness and domestic abuse, told with raw and vivid honesty.

Designed and edited by Paul Stewart and printed by YourBooks, Notes from Inside is available in bookshops and some libraries. It can be purchased from www.nationwidebooks.co.nz.

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For copies of the Kaitiaki articles, please contact library@nzno.org.nz.

Anne Manchester is a former Kaitiaki Nursing New Zealand co-editor.