The Funny Side
I can now laugh at some of the things I thought and did when I had a nervous breakdown and developed a schizophrenic illness though, at the time, some of these things were harrowing.
When I first started becoming ill in the summer of 1992, aged 24, I started to develop irrational, confused and delusional thoughts. One day my mum cooked curry on a Friday night for dinner, and after I’d eaten it I became confused and terrified thinking the Chinese family who ran our local chip had put a curse on me, because in England, Friday is the traditional day that people eat fish and chips. I then started doing headstands against my living room wall, with my head in a bowl, trying to make myself vomit the curry I’d eaten.
Another time I thought I’d overdosed on jelly. When I’d been a teenager in prison I’d assaulted a prison officer called Mr Bird, by throwing a bowl of hot water over him ( Which I’m sorry about now ) Then when I got ill years later, I opened a box of Birds trifle and added hot water to the jelly mix, believing I was being psychically controlled by the Bird family, and I then drank the liquid jelly and then laid down terrified thinking I was going to die because the jelly would set in my stomach and block up my intestines. And I contemplated knocking on my neighbour Lynn’s door and asking her to call an ambulance because I’d overdosed on jelly.
When I was in Springfield psychiatric hospital, an old girlfriend got in contact with me and I resumed my relationship with her. Years before, she’d also been in hospital with schizophrenia and she’d had electric shock treatment. And when I was in her house, she’d smoke cannabis every day and play her music loud. She always looked high and I thought she was buzzing and getting energy from the electricity used to power her music, because she’d had electric shock treatment all those years ago.
Something else I also used to do sometimes, more than 18 years ago before becoming a Christian again started making me more sane, was sometimes get my haircut twice in one day. I would go to a barbers, and if I didn’t like my haircut, I’d go home, wash my hair, dry it, then go to another barbers to get it cut again. And in the second barbers I would always feel a bit paranoid, wondering if the barber knew I’d earlier already had my haircut, because I had no split ends and my hair was already so neat.
Some people might think it’s in bad taste to joke about mental illness, and at the times of experiencing the things I’ve mentioned, I didn’t think it was funny. However, now I’ve made so much progress with my recovery, I’m now able to look back on some of the things I did and experienced, and laugh at myself. And I believe laughter is the best medicine.
You can read more of my writing and watch some of my short films by going to my website www.paul-warwick.co.uk.