Hi, my name is Peter and I became mentally ill in 2001.
Though now recovered, between 2001 and 2005 I was in and out of mental hospitals with Cannabis induced psychosis and grandiose delusions. Some of my delusions were quite funny. I don’t want to detract from the general serious nature of mental illness, but having lots of stories about my often humorous activities to write about is never anything less than a genuine pleasure. I think the right thing to do is to share them.
In December 2002 I found myself detained on a mental health ward with delusional psychosis for the second time. My delusions were centred around thinking that I was the second coming of Jesus Christ and that I had telepathic abilities. Being Jesus, I talked to God a lot. I can remember being in my small room at Parklands Hospital in Basingstoke, Hampshire, one day, feeling bored, with my unconscious mind looking for some stimulation. I noticed a stain on my wall, in the corner by the skirting board that was oddly shaped in a black and white pattern, black dots, looking a bit like frogspawn. I thought nothing of it until later that afternoon when I noticed another pattern of dirt elsewhere on the ward that looked a lot like the first one, only bigger, about twice as big. Then later on that day, probably on some peeling wallpaper somewhere else on the ward there was another pattern just like the first two, but bigger once again. They looked like clusters of human cells, like what a very early foetus might look like. They seemed to be growing too. Something seemed to be saying to me that I was somehow pregnant. Lots of things are possible when you are quite mad, and believe that God is real and able to do anything. Fortunately by the next day I was no longer thinking about whether I might have been impregnated by God, and I have not since thought about it again.
Halloween 2002 I was living at my Dads house. He was a psychiatric nurse, and my mum trained as one too back in the day, they both worked at a place called Holloway Sanatorium in the 70s. Them knowing about the world of mental illness and the best way to nurse their son back to health is one of the things that contributed to me being eventually able to recover. My mum told me about a patient at Holloway once called ‘Trixie’. In the 50s (I think) Trixie was brought into the sanatorium at age 15 because she was pregnant outside of marriage, an issue of shame for some back then. There were some patients bought in simply because they were not living a ‘normal’ life. Apparently Trixie never again left the sanatorium and died there a fairly old woman. She was not mentally ill. I am so lucky I was not unwell a generation or two earlier, care for the mentally ill has come on so much since then. Anyway, Aliens. On Halloween In 2002 I was watching the night sky when I noticed that if you stared at planes flying high overhead for long enough your eyes could play tricks and the airplane’s lights seemed to jump around slightly in erratic and impossible movements, and it also seemed like they were not blinking, but only seemed to be because they were coming in and out of view revolving quickly around a circular aircraft. So I thought they were flying saucers. I was genuinely excited – I had found extra-terrestrial life! I tried using telepathy to talk to them, convinced it was real. I was urging them to stay, but they always flew away over the horizon. I watched the sky until morning, and for the next six months or so I was adamant that aliens were very much among us, though fortunately this new and unique knowledge I had never made me want to do something silly like go and stand on a mountain top and wait for abduction.
In December 2001, while seriously and acutely unwell, I thought I had a special telepathic connection with a mystery person. I nicknamed her ‘Anna’. I didn’t know who she was, I had never met her, but I was sure that she existed on planet Earth somewhere. I felt that she could hear my thoughts, and that I was destined to meet her. It was pretty much like having an imaginary friend. I spent many hours talking to her and it just felt right, very real and not a delusion or hallucination. One day I decided it was time to meet her. I looked around for a magical source to tell me when and where to meet with her. I turned on my TV and as I did there was a feature about The Ritz Hotel in London, and the number ‘213’ moved randomly into my mind’s eye. Where I lived was a 50 mile train journey to the Ritz, so no reason not to, I would depart immediately. I soon boarded the worst railway carriage I’d ever seen, in need of a good scrub or outright replacement. I got off at Waterloo station in London, wearing my roller skates with a shoe in each hand, and skated to The Ritz, using God’s instruction to me as to the route. If I saw a road sign that stood out to me I would follow it. I arrived at The Ritz nearly two hours later, and rolled straight in, still wearing my roller blades, dressed in tatty clothing, and queued up at reception in a line of smartly dressed wealthy looking people. I think there is an actual dress code at The Ritz. When I got to the front of the queue I calmly asked the desk clerk “Can you tell me which room Anna is in please” she replied “I’m sorry sir we don’t have a reservation for anyone of that name”. I decided I should have a look around for myself, so I left the desk clerk to call security, and I walked up the grand staircase, sideways, as I still had on my rollerblades. I found room 213, knocked and a cleaner answered, who didn’t speak English, but I could see there was nobody in this large room. I needed the loo, so I did that, then went to reception with the plan of double checking that my imaginary friend wasn’t on the list. Then the security man found me and held me by the arm and escorted me to the exit. I skated back to Waterloo Station, almost flooring a lady with a broken leg who was using crutches on a busy street, as I got over confident on my skates, and took a train home, and returned safely back home soon after. I will always remember my brief visit to The Ritz Hotel in December 2001.
If you would like to read more about my story I have made a website to support my book about it all, which has three book extracts and other things. Please visit www.petermcdonnellwriter.com