Tales from the Ebony Cat
By Sarah Banawich
Key Themes: poems, psychosis, schizophrenia, mental health
Tales from the Ebony Cat is a collection of poems verse and short stories. Sandra tells in the medium of poetry about her experience of psychosis , what it is like from the inside looking out. Her unique perspective describes the symptoms of the illness giving the reader a look inside her head. The short stories are accurate accounts of periods of psychosis that go to make up the label schizophrenia. This is a collection of the various symptoms and different ways that the perception can be challenged during the illness.
The Ebony Cat is Sandras way of telling her story through the muse of her pet, who when Sandra is ill acts as a telepathic familiar springing from her younger days when Sandra was bullied as a child and called a witch
About the Author
Sandra Banawich was born in 1964 second eldest of six children. She had an unhappy childhood and was bullied quiet badly. When she was first sectioned in 1991 under the 1983 Mental Health Act, everything took her by surprise, she was totally unaware she was becoming unwell, it happened so fast.
Sandra had married young and had a 3 yr old son with undiagnosed Autism. She had a second son who kept her awake at nights. Her second son had to be bandaged from head to foot because of his severe eczema. Sandra also had a young baby who had developed infantile eczema. It all became too much for her to cope with so in January just after Christmas Sandra experienced her first breakdown. That first experience of psychosis was very confusing; she could no longer trust her own thoughts.
When Sandra was released from hospital she decided to train as a Citizens Advice Worker, she needed just to prove to herself that she had value. Everything went well and Sandra qualified as an advice worker.
Then things took a turn for the worse her family found it hard to come to terms with her illness.
She fought hard to get her head back together and joined the Labour Party. In 2000 Sandra was elected a local councillor for St Helens. She could finally hold her head up at last. As Chair of Health and Social Care scrutiny Committee Sandra was the first person to give written evidence against the Draft Mental Health Bill in 2004 when it was going through Parliament. Campaigning on mental health issues is something that she continues to do even though no longer a councillor.
Sandra came out in the local press about the problems facing service users and as a local councillor with mental health problems she also wrote an article for the Guardian newspaper on the subject of her Mental Health.
Sandra was reunited with her family Mum and Dad were very proud and old wounds healed.