A Personal History of Homelessness and Schizophrenia
By Andrew Voyce
Key Themes: homelessness, autobiography, schizophrenia, recovery, study, personal success
About the Author
Andrew was born in 1951 and has always lived in the South-East of England. His ethnicity is White British.
Andrew took a degree in Politics at Reading University but failed his finals in 1974. In 1985 he was awarded a pass BA in Social Science by the Open University. In 1993 he was awarded an honours BA in Politics by the OU and in 1998 was awarded an MA in Social and Public Policy by Brighton University.
The author was first admitted to a psychiatric institution in 1974 and was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was a revolving door patient with frequent admissions and discharges from Hellingly in Sussex and Oakwood in Kent, both NHS institutions. Andrew feels he was saved by the introduction of community care and the closure of the asylums, which never got it right. Although he has never had a work carreer, has only briefly been a home owner, and has never been a higher rate tax payer, and can hardly therefore be described as a Thatcherite, Andrew fully acknowledges that it was Mrs Thatchers government which closed the asylums and gave him a life of some hope.
The last episode of five years untreated psychosis, which is the subject of The Durham Light and other stories, was logged by Andrew in several short stories which combine to make this publication. This was completed in about 1998. Following some difficulties, this booklet was produced in digital format for publication in 2008.
A point about the descripition of the delusions that Andrew suffered is that there was virtually no visual or audutory hallucination. As will become apparent, Andrew lived in a world of half fact, half fiction. He frequently observed events which he then seriously misinterpreted. This may be the basis of many episodes of psychosis. Andrew was not a hearer of voices or a seer of visions.
Another aspect of Andrews experiences is that his delusions were of his time. He could not have had delusions about the War on Terror, for example, for that was after his time of delusions. But he did fanatsise about events of the time- the Cold War, the Troubles in Ireland, and some obscure and arcane military and historical scenarios.
In some discussions with others, Andrew has found that he shares his delusions on signalling, on strange things going on at sea, and also something of a world view with a few fellow mental health service users. He wonders if it will be possible to ever make a comparison of delusory beliefs shared among people with schizophrenia or other diagnoses, which he thinks would be an interesting project.
Finally, Jan Wallcraft of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health has for a while recommended the power of narrative as a therapeutic or cathartic process. Andrew endorses her view, and The Durham Light and other stories can be seen in that light.