Don’t Pity Me: Psychosis Gave Me Mad Skills

As everyone who watched BBC Horizon’s recent documentary ‘Why Did I Go Mad?’ can attest, I’ve struggled with some pretty intense things: hearing voices, seeing visions, paranoia and the legacy of childhood trauma. Despite spending much of my early twenties in hospital, doped up to the eyeballs with strong medication, pity really is the last thing I need. OK, so I still hear voices that tell me to do some pretty horrible things. Yes, I still have times when I need to withdraw from the world and hide underneath a blanket. I know that I still have lots of work to do until I take my place as some kind of chilled out guru able to sit, cross-legged on a mountain, dispensing vague and irritating wisdom to young travellers navigating their own journey through psychosis.

Despite all of the challenges inherent in living this life, you might be surprised to hear that I’m neither a tragic victim of illness nor a heroic ambassador of hope. I’m just someone who’s trying to find a way to life a meaningful life. I want to use the things life has thrown at me, things I never asked for, and put them to some use. Every time someone pities me, or tweets about me as if I’m a helpless victim, they miss the point. I, like many survivors, am made of strong stuff.

I’m not trying to romanticise or glamorise madness. It was hell. Yet psychosis and the years I spent in the mental health system gave me some very difficult and unwanted gifts. Whilst they were lined with more trauma and pain than anyone should have to bear, I have begun to fashion them into something I can feel proud of. At the risk of sounding glib, I have some seriously ‘mad’ skills.

Not convinced? Let me take you on a tour.

1. I don’t bore easily.

2. I have an unnerving ability to focus

3. I’m a good person to know if the world does turn out to be a simulation.

4. I can multi-task like a super-charged swiss army knife

5. My fear-o-meter is set pretty high. My voices are scarier than the people in my life

6. I can be a social butterfly (as well as a wallflower).

7. I use my experiences to connect with others in distress.

8. I want to change the world.

The punchline.

I hear voices, see visions and work internationally to create better support for those in distress. See: www.behindthelabel.co.uk

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