The following is a contribution from award winning poet and mental health advocate Matthew Gaymer, excerpted from his book, A Slow Motion Suicide.
Eccentric, that’s how it started. Everyone said I was individual, eccentric, I didn’t think like everyone else. These differences made me stand out, people laughed with me, that’s how I thought it would always be but it was all a mask and then it slipped.
One day I found sheets of paper with hundreds of bizarre doodles covering them. I had been writing a great deal of poetry, reading back the words written was like opening a door. A door that inside contained darkness and disillusion.
I had become preoccupied with the end of the world and the darkness that would follow. So much that a great deal of my research and spare time was spent looking into mine, and mankind’s, impending demise. I wrote a paper on the subject and would get anyone I could to read it. It became me.
After speaking with my wife, we decided I needed to see my GP. I was then contacted by ‘The Early Intervention in Psychosis’ team, a visit was arranged. They arrived, made introductions to my ‘care worker.’ I was handed a prescription for medication, my wife was briefed and handed numerous telephone numbers to call in an emergency.
Over time my medication was raised, I was deep in the grip of substance abuse. I was undergoing intensive treatment by a psychologist to take control of the issues that were driving me toward oblivion. I had gone from being an eccentric member of society to a walking zombie unaware of the world around me. Every now and then I had moments of lucidity, this did nothing but distance me from a world that was now uncontrollably floating away from my embrace.
The defining moment for me was during one such lucid moment. I was suddenly aware of being in the corner of the bath, naked, being washed by my wife. It was then I decided to get a hold of this illness and start being the one in control.
Psychosis isn’t something that just gets cured. On a couple of occasions I’ve had stays in secure hospital units but everything has a purpose, an opportunity to learn. Every step I took was a step forward to recovery.
There is no doubt, without the support of my wife I would have taken an all together different path. We all fall, but the important thing is the people that pick you up and fix you. I fell, I broke but the pieces are coming back together. I now look back and see what happened was a chance, an opportunity, to make life better, a chance to learn, a chance to make a better person, a better man, husband and father. A chance I am holding with both hands and refusing to let go.