There is a Horizon Special on psychosis being broadcast on 2nd May 2017 on BBC Two at 21:00. Regular readers will know I am mad as a box of spiders, or in slightly more descriptive terms I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic psychosis. These diagnoses and my transparency in explaining them, together with my good looks and charm, made me an ideal person to feature heavily in the program. Yes, Davy Strange is on television, and I am not talking about wine!!
For the program I was interviewed about my history, illnesses and how they affect me. This was incredibly stressful. The film crew all said after the interview that I seemed very cool and was highly articulate. The Editor, also known as my carer, said, “He is not cool, he is incredibly stressed and his back is causing him a lot of pain!”. The Editor can read me like a book!
I also interviewed luminaries of the academic worlds of clinical psychology and psychiatry, to further understand why people are likely to develop illnesses like mine. I shall leave the conclusions for you to discover when you watch the program. I must say, being an ex-epidemiologist, it was a real treat talking to people at the top of their fields; I was supposed to interview ‘Brave’ Sir Robin Murray, probably the most famous psychiatrist in the country, for 40 minutes – I spoke to him for over an hour and a half. It is highly enlightening to meet academics at that stage in their career where they know, effectively, everything.
My main aim, however, was to try and demonstrate the type of life and the problems in it that people with psychotic illnesses, like mine, experience. I would like to promote understanding of psychotic disorders so that sufferers do not feel shunned and excluded from society just because people do not know what to make of their illnesses. I hope I show, and everyone I have spoken to who has seen the almost final cut says that I do with great transparency, that living with psychosis may have innumerable difficulties associated with it, but we are still people who deserve attention, respect and love – even the ones who do not write sweary tasting notes and put them online!
All of the filming was rather difficult, especially when The Editor was called away for other duties – the producer is a terribly nice chap and he did a good job of protecting me from… things – but each day of filming I would go home shaking and sweating. However, I knew I should be trying to promote understanding of mental illnesses.
I have given these figures from 2014 on this website before, but they are worth repeating. For every pound the government spends on mental health research, the general public contribute less than a third of a penny extra. That is how much you pay toward a group of illnesses one quarter of the population will experience during their lifetimes. Are these illnesses I suffer from so unworthy of investigation? Are they, am I, so shameful that we shouldn’t try to improve the lives of those who are mentally ill?
International readers: I am told one can use a VPN to watch this program on BBC iPlayer. For those who are baffled by such technological jiggery-pokery, I will update this post when I learn of international broadcast dates.