Actor David Harewood, known for being in Superwoman, Robin Hood and plenty more - opens up in this visually stunning and engaging documentary PSYCHOSIS & ME.
It focuses on his experience with psychosis. Happening 30 years ago, he ‘lost his mind’ and goes into eye-opening detail about the terrifying reality (and perceived reality) of the disorder.
Psychosis can be triggered by many things over time, such as major stress, traumatic events and lack of sleep. The chemical dopamine becomes excessive in the brain which then triggers the symptoms of psychosis. This can be temporary or suffered for a lifetime.
With blackouts, limited memory and delusional beliefs, he speaks to professionals and is reminded about his concerning behaviour in the past. David was once told by a voice in his head to go to a shop at 3am into the back room, put on a suit, and only then would he be able to change the world. It seems so real as he sits up abruptly in his bed but is in fact not real at all. Everyone is very different in their experiences, which is what makes it so isolating and scary.
The documentary is fragmented like the mind of a psychotic, with non-sugar-coated experiences young people deal with daily hallucinations and medications. It had a factual approach to it and I learnt a lot, being personally unfamiliar with psychosis. We hear about how sufferers cope with the illness and about the stigma.
Sadly perceived as ‘mad’ and ‘crazy’, psychosis needs to have early intervention, but many delay getting help or don’t get any help because of such fears of what others may think and what might happen if they do talk to someone. It’s clearly the best thing that one can do for themselves, before episodes become more frequent or intense.
We see a scene of a young woman wrapped protectively in a blanket in hospital describing an encounter with the devil who had ‘put something in her throat’. We feel the pure exhaustion and fear in her eyes, and the concern of her loved one listening in pain to her.
David goes back in time to his childhood and begins to unravel where it seemed to spiral for him, when things seemed to go very wrong. Seemingly happy at drama school, a lot more was happening behind closed doors which he solves throughout the documentary. Found sitting on the floor with a corkscrew in a Shakespeare book to then being floored by six policemen and being heavily sedated, ‘enough to knock a horse out’, Harewood is astonished to hear this- he has no recollection of it.
It isn’t all doom and gloom. Medications can be saviours for some, if the side effects aren’t too unbearable. A young man speaks of his way of expressing his dissociated states through art to then look back at in his grounded state.
Overall, this delicate yet strong representation of a perhaps misunderstood mental illness is highly worth investing your time in. You are left feeling many emotions at once. It’s something that sticks with you.
- You can catch up on BBC iPlayer.