When I look back at my time in hospital in 2004, it is not with the mixture of horror and regret one might expect. I had had terrible experiences previously in hospital when severely depressed, but this time it was different.
During that year, I had a psychotic episode and it was unlike anything I have ever been through. That March, I found that my anxiety was fading but, at the same time, I was becoming deluded. So I was in the strange position of getting worse but also getting better. The more deluded I became, the less anxious I was. I was going out more and seeing friends, which I had been reluctant to do beforehand. They were unaware that my mental state was changing because I managed to keep it to myself.
I suppose the downside was not for me, since I was happier, but for my mother, who could see clearly I was still very unwell. I believed that particular famous people were conspiring against me. But I did not mind because I thought the delusions were interesting. I would watch films and interpret them in all sorts of ways. For example, when the Bond girl in The Spy Who Loved Me cried out, “James, I need you!”, I believed that she was sending a message to the actor James Fox who had had his own breakdown after making Performance. As for Bond himself, I thought Roger Moore and myself were supernaturally linked. Because of this, I believed, he had become unable to function and made a complete fool of himself while accepting a knighthood from the Queen. I seemed to overlook the fact that he had already been knighted the previous year.
I was aware that I was ill and did in fact admit myself to hospital. When they put me on antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs I began to recover. This time, I think the doctors got the drugs right and this is one of the reasons I have been so well the last couple of years. My pain had finally faded away after years of anxiety and depression. While in hospital, I suppose like a lot of people when psychotic, I was in a pretty neutral state. There were people there who were depressed and I am sure they were much more unhappy than myself. Most of my time was spent thinking and working through my delusions.
The funny thing was, believing that other people were conspiring against me did not fill me with that much terror. It made me feel important. I also spent a lot of time thinking about friends and loved ones. I remember beginning to feel that a girl I had been keen on at university was now too good for me. When spending time with her I had been out of my depth. The thought, “stay out of depth”, kept popping into my head and I reckoned that was the only way to win her over.
Perhaps deep down, I knew that I was on the road to recovery. When I came out of hospital, the delusions faded, leaving me pretty much centred. Nowadays I am working and writing my second novel. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Roger Brewston (not his real name) is a writer and uses mental health services