A schizophrenic's reality is not shared with anyone else. This is a memoir about my history of the illness, partly a reconciliation of the terrible, and, sometimes, wonderful things that happened to me. It was an ambitious project. My testimony features every pertinent moment I could remember in truthful and exquisite detail. I could not voluntarily create any of these events, which are portrayed as if they were real and actually happened. It was a pleasurable catharsis presented in adventurous learning curves, recalling psychiatric treatment on nine occasions, in eight different wards, since 1990. These experiences were as terrible as being locked in an I.C.U for over five weeks, as intrepid as being the saviour of alien planets, and as beautiful as being released from that same I.C.U to walk under trees that were the tallest things I had ever seen under a blue sky that stretched on forever.
My first hospital admission was full of the unshackled energy of raw humanity. Without being understood, I often felt more at home on a ward because I had a sense of 'un-belonging' which was assuaged when I moved into my own flat. That place itself became a gladiatorial arena, the kind of isolation in which schizophrenia really goes to town, because you are never truly alone with 'voices'. So 'telepathy' was my preferred reality, then, depicted as a war-story month by month. The story becomes more absorbable as the jargon unique to the conflict is introduced. I rubbed shoulders with the good and the evil, loved a woman that didn't quite exist (and one that did) and saved the Earth from the extinction. I nearly died several times, but the memoir is resolved with sheltered housing, affective medication, and tears of joy at the turn of 1999 into 2000. After many utter miracles of survival, the happy closure takes place during the first moments of an infant millennium.
This memoir should be a deterrent to others experimenting with paranoia-inducing drugs. I hope that it also serves as an inspiration of hope to their families and friends. "Defender" is a unique account: a non-academic work that would appeal to academics, an exciting journey for the sympathetic, and a case-study for mental health professionals to gain a long look into a private world. It took several years to write, and before I started "Steam Engine" it was the best book I ever put onto paper. Signed copies are for sale on this site - or you can download an e-book version for free! Please feel able to write your own review. One link from this page will give you access to B&W photographs of scenes from within the account. The events I have portrayed were absolutely real to me, and I hope that this slide-show brings you an added sense of reality to the text. If you would like to post your own review send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I found the book beautifully written, witty, moving and a very interesting and informative read. You get a real sense of what it must be like to live with schizophrenia, and a sense of what it must be like to experience some of the best and worse side of the UK’s mental health services. It is very cheering that there’s such an optimistic ending to the story; the book is sure to enlighten and inspire anyone who reads it.”
- Helen Finch, The Mind Association.
Richard's account gives answers to the question why? This is a truthul, honest and heartfelt account of his life giving sign posts to others so they can gain strength.
- Andrew Latchford, Co-founder Chipmunkapublishing Ltd.
A brutally-honest diary account of one man's mental illness, this is a bit like the first part of Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" coupled with "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" and a very bizarre episode of the X Files.
Richard describes his book as a cathartic memoir of his time suffering from schizophrenia, detailing his treatment from eight different hospitals as well as his disjointed grips with reality.
It's not an easy book to read by its very nature, but does provide an incredible insight into the very private world of a schizophrenia sufferer.
- Niel D'Arcy Jones, Essex County Newspapers.
While continuing my course of psychiatric drugs this book has been a cathartic self-therapy. By the time I began re-drafting it I was feeling very well. "Defender: adventures in Schizophrenia" may educate and entertain many people, but writing it also opened a door through which I have passed. In comparison to my apocalyptic beliefs of years gone by our sensual world is safe and my place within it is nothing as terrible as it had once seemed. Again, I apologise to anybody I have defamed in this writing but through it I am finding myself a whole person being made welcome, at last, in the Real World.