Butterfly And Me – A Schizophrenic Spirituality


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By Edward K Penny

ISBN: 978-1-78382-207-2
Published: 2015
Pages: 94
Key Themes: Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Autobiography, Mental Illness, Spirituality, Reality, Drug Abuse


This is an immeasurably superior version of a work self-published as an e-book in 2012 under a pseudonym. It is the story of how with the help of drugs one young man underwent the transformation from university student to mental patient having always been a bit weird. After the most memorable and frightening moments of his breakdown a strange intelligence named Butterfly started communicating with him, which lead to him being diagnosed as schizophrenic. Many years later he feels his breakdown made him a better person, that the influence of Butterfly has made him more sane, not less, by guiding him away from the things that made him mad and into becoming a type of person he is more happy being despite having to live with being labelled by society as mentally ill.

About the Author

Edward was born in 1983 on the Greek island of Rhodes and grew up in the north of England. He eventually went to university where he foolishly smoked a lot of cannabis with a complete disregard for his mental wellbeing which lead to him suffering a nervous breakdown. After spending time on a psychiatric ward a strange intelligence named Butterfly started communicating with him and does so to this day and because of this he has been diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Book Extract

I was born in 1983 on the Greek island of Rhodes to an English mother and a Greek father. My mother was a teacher of English from Leicester and worked at a language school somewhere on the island and my father worked (and still works) in the office of a beach hotel doing something with money and computers. I remember the computer he worked with in the 1980s, it was huge and filled an entire room. We lived in a ground floor apartment, which was next door to a brothel on one side and a commune of gay men on the other. I have fond memories of that place and was totally oblivious to what the neighbours were up to. For the first few years of my life I was bilingual but forgot Greek after my parents divorced after which I moved to England at the age of three with my mother.

As an infant I was baptised into the Anglican Church even though my family was non-religious. I have a set of godparents. We initially lived in the village of Old Town near the town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. On Sundays I would go to Sunday school at the village Methodist Church. I remember it being taught by some nice old ladies and colouring in pictures of Jesus printed on to horrid cheap glossy paper using ineffective felt-tips. On Thursday evening I would sometimes attend the church youth club, which was called the Star Club where I would play games with other children and draw things. At a later age I would complain to my mother that I was forced to go to Sunday school but she told me I was very enthusiastic about it at the time. I don’t remember how many times I attended Sunday worship there. I remember a very nice old man who lived on my street called Mr B who used to go down to the church with me. He’d be long dead by now. The church was a big weathered sandstone cube and was pretty windswept. I remember drinking horribly diluted orange squash there.

One memorable thing happened when I was at Sunday school. There was an art contest where we had to draw a picture based on the resurrection of Jesus for which there would be prizes. My picture was widely acknowledged as the strongest work of art but was given only second place due to it being somehow heretical. Apparently “radical” is what they called it. I understood who God and Jesus were; I just had no concept of reverence or theology. I’d imagine that God and Jesus would have a party at night in the church once everyone had gone home after Star Club. I think the fact they tolerated such things is good as it means they didn’t practice brainwashing and accommodated childishness.
At about the age of nine or ten we moved house and I transferred to a Church of England school attached to the church where I was baptised. It was a very nice school. The vicar there owned a skull, which he would sometimes show us at assemblies. I think his possession of that skull and how he’d show it to us constituted a desecration of human remains and I would have expected better from a member of the clergy. I don’t think the teacher I had in my last year there liked me and I never liked her, she made a habit of showing her pupils who was boss by making us put our hands on our heads in a kind of stress position for a few minutes for no justifiable reason. I once got told off for speculating that the church was hoarding vast quantities of treasure in false graves and she actually thought that Sunday was the first day of the week. We had wooden desks with lids that lifted up. At both of the primary schools I went to we had to sing hymns in a morning assembly. I didn’t understand any of them. I thought “I am the lord of the dance said he” was “I am the lord of the dance setee”. Why would people dance on a sofa? I also thought the line “victor in the wilderness help us not to swerve or fail” which was about Jesus defeating the devil’s temptation when he went out into the wilderness was “Victor in the wilderness” about a hermit named Victor who lived in the wilderness and knew Jesus. There were many more such misunderstandings and they were not limited to hymns. Whenever at the start of a new term the teacher talked of “turning over a new leaf” I thought she meant a leaf as in what grows on trees, as opposed to another way of saying a “start a new page”. No wonder this didn’t make sense. This is how out of touch I was with the things everyone else understood. In the early 1990s there was a popular dance track by Black Box called Ride on Time and the chorus was basically the title of the song repeated a few times but I thought what was being repeated was “Orang-utan”. I thought this popular dance track was about orang-utans. Why shouldn’t it have been? Also, I believed the word “moron” was “moor hog” so when I wanted to insult someone’s intelligence I’d call them a “moor hog”, which probably confused them more than it insulted them.

I was totally illiterate until the age of nine so had to have private lessons from a very good tutor whose services my mother was fortunate enough to be able to afford. Without those lessons this book you’re reading would not exist. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and eventually outgrew the condition but the label was to come back and cause me problems. I used to attend a type of dyslexic children’s support group (called the Tuesday Group) run by an educational psychologist. At my first primary school when all the other children were working I’d just sit and draw. The teacher gave me an exercise book to fill with drawings whilst the other children got on with their education. I was praised for my art but looking back this was probably because it was the only thing I could do rather than because I was actually good at it. I spent a lot of time in a “special needs” group which I didn’t enjoy and which made me feel somehow backwards and more stupid than the other children, away in a little room. I remember being illiterate, I’d see an ordinary street sign and would ask what it said, expecting it to be poetry or a story. When I had to draw something in one of my pictures with words on it I’d write down characters that looked like letters but weren’t. It was a very big moment for me when I was promoted from using a pencil to write with to using a pen like everybody else. I think this dyslexia had something to do with starting life bilingual. There were some awful petty people who taught “special needs” and being ladled as educationally backwards made me feel distant from all the other children and somewhat dumb and as though I was always somehow missing out on things everyone else understood, that I was not bright enough to be on the same level and to get everything everyone else got and that I’d always be somehow different or abnormal and consequently always be an outsider. This feeling persisted and shaped my subsequent breakdown.

When I was older I went to the local secondary comprehensive school and was bullied both mentally and physically almost constantly. They really had it in for me there. I couldn’t walk ten yards without something unpleasant happening and once had to go to the police because I was badly assaulted by some lowlife who is now apparently a drug addict. That school called itself a “centre for technological excellence” but was no such thing unless you count bullying as a technology. They pretentiously called the library the “learning resource centre” and did little about the bullying. I did ask for it in many ways as I couldn’t tell the difference between good attention and bad attention and I was under constant stress from being constantly harassed. I probably attracted bullying on a number of counts. First of all, I had a foreign name. Second, I had extravagant hair. And third, I didn’t have a local accent. That was it. It was in effect a massive unspoken conspiracy to drive me to suicide for being obviously different, the abuse was relentless and they delighted in it. What right did they have? I’m not going to name it here but this school was so awful that many years after I left it was given “notice to improve” by the inspectorate. Those who know Calderdale will know the one I’m on about. Children can be very cruel. Later on I too was cruel sometimes I’m sorry to say. I think I was in many ways dehumanized and brutalized by my experience at this school and by being treated so badly I came to think that treating people well was not the default way of treating people and that being hurtful was acceptable. The experience I had at this school certainly messed me up. The psychological effects of the physical, mental and emotional battering I received during my time there were lasting and significant and influenced my subsequent development; it made me less confident and friendly and made me used to being an outsider.


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