Future Selves by Beth Hopkins
The book, published by work-form, is a collection of accounts of discussions between people with experience of bipolar. It addresses issues raised by Advance Directives, a type of living will that enables you to make decisions about your healthcare in advance of becoming unwell*, which would be binding should you lose capacity to make decisions.
This research, led by artist Beth Hopkins, interrogates themes of agency, control and care, and ultimately, our human rights. She asks the questions ‘Should the right to make our own decisions ever be taken away?’ and ‘What decisions would you make for your future self?’
In this publication, Beth Hopkins use the terms ‘well’ and ‘unwell’ as shorthand to describe complex states of mind. Other people use different, non-medical words to describe their experiences. Bipolar is very nuanced and setting boundaries of being well and unwell (and having capacity or lacking it) is a difficult task – both for clinicians and for ourselves. This leads to the question, can and should we divide our identity into distinct well and unwell selves?
Throughout this publication you will find anonymous quotes from people who took part in a survey through Bipolar UK, which gathered their thoughts on advance directives. The data from the survey formed a basis for a new study into advance directives at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, by Dr Tania Gergel and Dr Lucy Stephenson. You can read more about their research at www.mhj.org.uk.