By James Lindsay
I am delighted to share with you a passage from my first book – Befriending My Brain: A Psychosis Story – which came out in March 2023.
Completed after four years of hard work, it’s a memoir detailing my experiences with psychosis and schizoaffective disorder – about my ups and downs, as well as lessons from my recovery and advice I have gained along the way and I hope it can help people with (and without) mental health conditions of any variety.
The below passage is from chapter 5, where I am living in a psychiatric ward as a very confused and terrified person after being sectioned.
If you liked this preview, please consider getting the book (available on Amazon and Waterstones websites, both paperback and eBook/Kindle versions) if not for yourself then maybe for someone who would find support and comfort from reading it.
Most of the time I got along fine with the other patients, but there were a few weird and unpleasant moments. One time, this older gentleman suddenly snapped at me out of nowhere and shouted right in my face, “F**k off, you c**t!” I could only come up with one potential reason as to why this happened: maybe I had invaded his personal space a little bit, and he didn’t like anyone getting too close to him. Apart from that, I don’t remember doing anything wrong, so I found it very surprising and obviously very rude of him. I didn’t take it personally, though, as it occurred to me that he was very mentally ill too, maybe more than I was.
Another patient really freaked me out with his creepy actions. He had this habit of pacing up and down in parts of the ward, but he often gave me an odd and angry look as he was doing this. At some points, he also seemed to start coming towards me in an aggressive-looking way. I decided to avoid him at all costs and, if I had to get close, I made sure one of the staff members was near me, just in case he attacked me or anything.
At this point, my delusions had not gone away, and I came to a very odd conclusion that the creepy pacing guy was my brother’s spirit in another person’s body. I even shared this with Mum and Dad during one of their early visits, but Mum confirmed, “No, that is not him, he is at home in our house.” I eventually believed this and stopped having delusions, due to getting more sleep and my medication taking effect. The tablets I was taking also started to give me some major side effects, mainly making me very sleepy and sedated, and also giving me more of an appetite. I think the other patients were going through something similar too. We were fed the standard three meals a day, but this often wasn’t enough. I remember a lot of us would regularly eat several slices of toast in the evenings after dinner and before bed – we were just constantly eating.
James is an author and mental health advocate from Hertfordshire, UK, His first book ‘Befriending My Brain: A Psychosis Story’ was published in 2023