48. Gay and Roxy Longworth on coercion, psychotic breakdown and the long road back
Play • 1 hr 9 min
Gay and Roxy Longworth are a mother and daughter who overcame an incredibly difficult, long and dangerous mental health crisis and collaborated to write a powerful book, ‘When You Lose It’, documenting each shocking step.  Although at times extraordinary, the story they tell in this episode will, I think, resonate with parents and teenagers struggling to navigate the dangers of the modern, digital world.
When Roxy was just 13 years old, she was pressurised by much older boys from her school into sending intimate photographs of herself.  Over time, these demands grew and finally after a series of coercive and threatening messages, Roxy, who was hiding all of this from her family, returned to school to find the pictures had been widely shared amongst her peer group and brought to the attention of her teachers.
What followed was a series of events which led to Roxy suffering a psychotic breakdown. She was admitted to a mental health facility - voices in her head now controlling her every move. Roxy’s breakdown caused deep distress for her of course, but it also ripped through her family and in particular her relationship with Gay, a successful author.  The book tells the story of Roxy’s illness from both their perspectives. It is, at times, a brutal account of their relationship.
This conversation is an important one, because, of course, this is not an isolated incident. With phones now such a central part of our children’s lives – and from such a young age - it’s easy to lose track of what they are looking at, who they are communicating with, what they’re sharing and of course what pressures they’re under.  As Roxy says in this conversation, “Once they had those photos, they owned me.”
Roxy, is now studying maths and statistics with neuroscience at UCL. Although at times it’s clear she finds it hard to talk about some of these events, she has moved forward in her life brilliantly and wants her story to send a powerful message. Not only to discourage youngsters from doing what she did, but also to boys who may coerce others and to teachers who as she says, “tell you a million times what not to do, but not what to do if you’ve already done it.”
My thanks to Roxy and Gay for sharing their story and I hope you find this episode useful.

Gay's Crisis Cures: 
1. Find people who know more than you do. Friends, neighbours.. anyone. That’s key in the position I was in.
2. I need to go to a really quiet place by coming out of my head and back into my body. I have a trick which is to stand on one leg because you have to focus to balance. If that doesn’t work, try doing it on tip-toes or with your eyes closed.  That definitely gets you to focus the mind.
3. When you have big decisions to make – particularly when the outcomes could be life altering, try to view them as informed choices. So if they don’t work out in the way you need, you can look back and think – I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.

Roxy's Crisis Cures:
1. I work very hard and fully commit all of the time. I always make sure I’m doing at least four things at once too because I manage best when there’s as little time to think as possible.
2. I found an amazing therapist who helped me navigate my way through, working out where I could take responsibility for things I’d done and where I needed to accept I’d been taken advantage of. He showed me how to manage my brain and use it to my advantage.
3. I draw cubes – literally everywhere. I can use them to help ground myself and keep myself calm when I feel like I’m spiralling.

Full transcript available on: https://www.crisiswhatcrisis.com/podcasts/gay-and-roxy-longworth-on-coercion-psychotic-breakdown-and-the-long-road-back/

Links:
When you lose it - https://amzn.to/3xn3KC8
Stem 4 - https://stem4.org.uk/
Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm 

Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
Your Daily Practice: Sleep by Myndstream: https://open.spotify.com/track/5OX9XgJufFz9g63o2Dv2i5?si=b2f9397c92084682

Host– Andy Coulson
Producer – Louise Difford
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