Voices Off made it to the Best New Schizophrenia Books

BookAuthority Best New Schizophrenia Books

I’m happy to announce that my book, “Voices Off: Talking About Schizophrenia”, made it to BookAuthority’s Best New Schizophrenia Books:
BookAuthority collects and ranks the best books in the world, and it is a great honour to get this kind of recognition. Thank you for all your support!
The book is available for purchase on Amazon.


This post is somewhat delayed – I wrote it in March and didn’t publish immediately. But I’ve decided to post it now!

ARTIST: Adrian Serghie (RedBubble)

13th March 2023

I’m watching Taylor Swift’s “Reputation Stadium Tour” movie on Netflix as I type.

(Yeah, I’m slow at getting around to things – it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to life, I think.)

Anyway, I was just reminded of every single reason I call myself a Swiftie.

Right from the very first minute of the movie.

I love all Taylor’s albums, but Reputation now has an even more special place in my heart.

As soon as I started watching, I was brought all the way back to one of my darkest times.

A time when I was deeply unhappy, struggling, and Taylor’s music was my lifeline.

A time when I felt like nobody would ever want to be friends with me again.

A time when I felt like I’d lost everything.

A time when I was 15.

No teenager should EVER have to go through what I did.

But they do. Every single day, all over the world, in endless ways.

Especially when it’s just allowed to happen.

I felt an overwhelming and terrifying loss of control. I had an emotional breakdown and didn’t leave my room for a month … I was unable to face the outside world. Thanks to a handful of young people who thought it was fun to break me down, I felt like my reputation was ruined.

My reputation.

I was 15.

The way I saw it, an ever-growing number of my peers had rallied together with the sole intent to completely ruin me. (Again, I was 15 – maybe not the most rational and mature of thinkers.) I could see the things they wrote on social media and the way they interacted with me – how different it was from the way they interacted with each other, and how my name popped up in various unflattering ways. “I think Georgia looks really hot in that picture! Ha-ha, just kidding, Georgia….”

As time passed, more and more of my peers seemed to join in. I heard that some of them were talking about how weird I was – sharing this with new people, people I hadn’t even met yet.

People I hadn’t even met yet.

Ultimately, I felt like I would never be able to win. How could I? How could I possibly reclaim my reputation? There were dozens, if not hundreds, of them and only one of me – and I seemed to be doing a pretty bad job at simply existing. (I was 15!)

My confidence was at an all-time low. I was mortified to my core. Eventually, I deleted all of them from my Facebook “friends” list and blocked a lot of them, too. Slowly, I managed to get myself outside again. It was hell. I was furious. So overwhelmingly, utterly infuriated by the fact that I had done NOTHING to provoke this, yet here I was, crushed and humiliated, crying my eyes out and feeling like the villain in my own story.

This is where Taylor Swift comes in.

While watching this movie, many years after my dark times, I found myself witness to a young woman with her own host of “reputation struggles”, yet here she was, standing tall, smiling, and absolutely SLAYING on stage. Few have achieved what Taylor has achieved, and that stadium was full – over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND people in attendance (out of 3 MILLION for the whole tour). I could say something trite like “there will always be haters”, but I’d rather say this: Taylor Swift had her struggles. She was hurt by the haters. And yet she was still up there, out there, singing her heart out and showing up. That takes courage. Poise. And she did it with such humour, charm and grace.

I have been a loyal Swiftie ever since I first heard her song “Love Story”. I have never been afraid to hide this – on the contrary. I immediately got tickets to her 2020 concert at Roskilde Festival (before COVID blew that out the water). I have drawn her. I have written about her. I have watched her journey from her earliest, more innocent, country days – to her hard-hitting pop era – to the magical indie “lockdown” years and beyond. I have enjoyed “All Too Well: The Short Film” – and the fact that I’m not the only one who loves wearing snake rings.


(Above: From Taylor’s music video for “Look What You Made Me Do”)

(Below: Georgia’s own jewellery)

All in all, if I was to mention one thing I’ve learned from watching the “Reputation Stadium Tour”, it’s that it takes enormous strength of character and courage to get up, dress up, and show up, even when it feels like your reputation is ruined beyond repair. Taylor’s concert is a demonstration of power in this respect … she hasn’t let those who tried to bring her down succeed, instead channelling her experiences into a full-blown amazing album and tour with millions of ecstatic fans screaming her lyrics and crying at her every word.

Taylor hits the right notes. She’s massively successful for a reason, and it’s not plastic surgery or sleeping with exes on TV. To me, she is a true inspiration, ever since I could relate to her first music and now, with her superstar status.

And guess what?

She’s won.

Proven them all wrong.

Made her “haters” look silly.

I’m eagerly awaiting the announcement of her international tour dates, as I’m sure many others are, too.

This brings me to this chapter of my story …

I felt like I’d lost, back then. That I’d been defeated.

It’s hard to type that.

But I see things differently now. I’m happy to see that school was a temporary nightmare, and grateful that I never became friends with any of them, even though it felt awful to be excluded at the time.

Because you know what?

I’m winning, too.

I’ve reclaimed my reputation.

I’ve put things into words from MY perspective, not allowing any jerk to dictate how my story reads.

Anyway, if you’ll excuse me. I’m off to underline your name in red.


In my new English book “Voices Off”, I dedicate a chapter to talking about my struggles with tidying up and throwing things out. I wrote the book while I was still living with my parents.

Today, I live independently in my own flat. I have done so since September ’21. This was by no means something that just happened naturally. I was very fortunate to be in a good place in my recovery, so I could handle the process of moving. We took it very slowly so I wasn’t under undue stress. And, despite my practical skills being a long way from stellar, I have so far managed to stay on top of my daily chores and housework.

There have been days in January – weeks – where I’ve just prayed to myself nobody turned up uninvited (i.e., it was messy!). February, too. But I always manage to get my act together eventually. And I take pride in looking after my own space.

It wasn’t always like that.

I used to struggle hugely with keeping my room tidy. It seemed like a massive, insurmountable task. And maybe it was. I had so much stuff – not helped by the fact I was terrible at throwing out. I really, truly couldn’t do it.

Why not? Because it was painful. And it seemed stupid. I didn’t want to throw anything out because I knew I might need it later. It’s often the case. Say you’ve never used that measuring tape, so you decide to finally throw it out. Two weeks later you’re online shopping and need to take your measurements – bam, what do you need? Your measuring tape! This may not be the best example as it’s generally handy to have a measuring tape (and it’s not the largest item to keep), but I hope you get my point.

So, out of fear of regretting it later, I held on to stuff. I also wasn’t as far in my recovery, so my brain wasn’t in the right zone for “huge” tasks. I would motivate myself to work on a bit of my room – e.g., my chest of drawers (which was full of stuff) – only to space out after five minutes and stop. I couldn’t move forward with it. I am not by nature a slow person, so it exasperated me, but I also felt powerless. I would stop because I didn’t know where to start. Because I couldn’t bring myself to throw any of it out. Because I found my ambivalence too difficult to deal with. And, sometimes, I just stopped because I was exhausted, and went to sleep (surrounded by stuff).

I kept trying. I kept that hope that this COULD and WOULD change. It took many monumental efforts to start feeling and seeing a little difference. I eventually cleared my chest of drawers. Got rid of half a bin bag’s worth of stuff. Discarded drawings (not “good” ones), old birthday cards, a bunch of magazines, random paper clips, receipts … all stuff I knew I was never going to need again. It was difficult, and with some more sentimental stuff, I sometimes changed my mind at the last minute … but, the next time I targeted an area of my room, I managed to fill more than half a bin bag. So that, to me, signified progress. And with that, my “hope-metre” rose a little.

And then we moved house.

For me, the impending move suddenly meant I had a rock-solid reason to throw things out. A fresh start.

To not end up swamped with cardboard removal boxes in our new house, my mum and I went to our local Shurgard (a self-storage warehouse) and signed me up for a storage unit. This way I could transfer everything I didn’t need immediately to a secure space – billed monthly – and sort through it in my own time.

September 2020

It worked. Inspired by the prospect of a new adventure, comforted by not having to deal with it all straightaway, and motivated by the fact I was paying for my storage unit (it was a fair price, but still money I could be using on other things), I started tackling the massive, insurmountable task. Once we’d moved, I regularly went out to Shurgard – with my mum – to sift through my old ceramics works, endless childhood books, magazines, things of sentimental value, tennis racquets, schoolbooks, old notebooks, folders full of old artworks, ornaments I’d gathered throughout the years and much more. My storage unit was full in 2020 (before we moved) and, by the end of the summer in 2022, I had cleared it.

July 2022

Apart from a couple of boxes of books that I know I want to keep (but currently don’t have room for in my apartment), everything was sorted. I reckon 2/3 of it went out. Mostly taken to the dump – my mum drove there and back several times, the car packed full each time. We moved the boxes of books to her storage unit, and I could subsequently go to the reception desk with a smile on my face and terminate my contract.

No more money “out the window” every month. No more clutter. No more weight of too – much – stuff! It was a good feeling.

I finally felt like I was on my way to not feeling ashamed of my own space. I’d previously felt embarrassed inviting friends over; it didn’t stop me, but I was constantly self-conscious about my inability to have a “nice” room. When I didn’t have friends over, the mess could be appalling. It looked like an explosion in a knick-knack factory next to a bookshop and an office … there were decorations, books and paper everywhere, and plastic boxes full of stuff I’d never looked at for years. I hated it. Absolutely hated it. But I couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it.

I was likely suffering from avolition – a symptom of schizophrenia which can be described as low motivation, but is a little more complex than that. Specifically, it means you want to achieve a goal, you know what’s required to achieve the goal, but you cannot motivate yourself to do it – no matter the consequences. I.e., you could have a “carrot” (a positive outcome of achieving a goal) or a “stick” (a negative outcome of not achieving a goal), yet still not act. Nobody wants to be fired from their job, and everybody loves a reward for good effort, but imagine if you can’t get yourself to take the necessary steps to pay your bills, lose weight, or even just make your bed in the morning. Imagine how out of control this could become. A snowball effect with the potential to negatively affect every area of your life.

… Well, darkness aside, and to get back to the subject of this post: I had avolition, and it was unbearable to deal with. I wanted to achieve so many things, but had no “drive” to get those things – including a tidy room.

I think I’ve trained myself to become more structured.

I say this because I also struggled terribly with isolating myself. I would never leave the house – literally, never. Social anxiety and low confidence meant that I found it too stressful. I relied heavily on my parents. I wouldn’t even consider going for a walk in my neighbourhood – and as for supermarkets or shops? Forget it! Way too stressful.

The world was a daunting, unpredictable place (in my mind) back then.

However, those of you who follow me on Instagram may have noticed my many “walk photos”. Photos I’ve taken on walks. In my neighbourhood. Outside.

I actually leave my flat these days. I often go to the supermarket. I sometimes go shopping in town (when I can afford it, that is). I’m living a relatively normal life. And I like to think that, knowing my history, this is a tremendous victory.

And now, I’d like to share my tips with you.

If you’re struggling with clutter, here are things you can do to help yourself “slay the beast”:

1. Take photos.

When you’re struggling to throw something out that you know you’re never going to use/wear/look at again, ease the process by taking a photo of it on your phone and keep it there for a while. When you start to find it easier to throw out, just keep taking photos – of every item you are considering.

That’s how I felt “in control”, while still getting rid of stuff.

2. Delay.

For a week/month/set amount of time. Again, when there’s something you know you should throw out because you’re never going to use it, but you’re still finding it too hard, set yourself a time where you have to decide – that way you give yourself a little “breathing space” before getting rid of it. If you don’t look at it within that time and still know you’ll never use it, it should probably go out.

3. Easiest stuff first.

Deal with the “easier” stuff first. Disposable water bottles, plastic bags, clothes with stains or holes in them, thing that don’t have sentimental value. Whatever “easy” means to you, tackle those groups first. Do the things you find most difficult last – that way, you’ll train yourself until you feel more able to deal with the “difficult” stuff.

4. Sort into piles.

Keep – charity – bin. By sorting your belongings methodically into piles according to what you want to do with them, this can help you see how much you’re holding on to that you don’t actually need.

5. Reflect.

I eventually realised that – philosophically – holding onto the old stuff didn’t allow me space for all the good new stuff. Not just physical things, but in life generally.

However, do still be patient with yourself – it takes time and effort.

Oh, and one more thing – what others can do for a loved one who’s struggling with clutter:

1. Don’t throw out for them (i.e., without them agreeing to it).

This often just causes immense stress and sets them back in their progress.

So, that’s my advice. I am not a psychiatrist nor an expert. But I hope that, perhaps, this post could reach people who may find my personal experiences useful.

Now I’m off to sort my wardrobe.

Accept & Border Collies (DANISH)

Hvad fylder hos dig for tiden?

Jeg har tænkt på mange ting.

Hvor langt, jeg er kommet …

… alt det, jeg stadig kæmper med.

Det er som om, at sociale evner og kommaregler fylder mindre, end de har gjort. Og at jeg er ved at finde vej ud af en labyrint, hvor jeg har været fanget i årevis.

Noget af det, der har været allersværest for mig (ud over stemmerne og mine andre symptomer), har været at affinde mig med, at jeg ikke kan de samme ting, som mine jævnaldrende kan.

Jeg kan ikke være social ret længe, før jeg bliver overvældet og må tage en pause. Ofte på flere dage (eller endnu længere, afhængigt af ”typen” af social interaktion) – altså slet ikke i nærheden af, hvad ”raske” jævnaldrende kan. Og heller ikke nok til at opfylde mine egne sociale behov.

Min hverdag er også meget anderledes fra en typisk ”rask” hverdag. Jeg kan slet ikke håndtere omskiftelighed, spontanitet, aflyste planer, pludseligt oprettede planer … generelt lever jeg meget beskyttet og begrænset i min ”boble”, hvor jeg kender min simple hverdag og ikke laver de store udskejelser fra den.

Min hverdag? Sove. Hvile mig. Gå tur. Gennemføre mine daglige rutiner. Købe lidt ind. Gøre lidt rent. Vaske tøj. Passe min elskede lejlighed. Og selvfølgelig sørge for at få lidt at spise indimellem.

For ”normale” mennesker ville min hverdag nok føles helt ekstremt kedelig. Men den passer til mig, hvor jeg er nu. Det er det, jeg kan overskue.

Inden jeg blev syg, passede jeg gymnasiet, lektierne, afleveringerne, det sociale, fredagsbarerne, festerne, festudvalget, skoleavisen, deltidsjobbet, veninderne, spillede lidt tennis, var politisk aktiv, tog på Roskilde Festival (hvor jeg i øvrigt også arbejdede flere vagter for mit armbånd) … såh, det har været en omvæltning at skulle vænne sig til en ny hverdag. En hverdag, hvor jeg hverken er blevet stimuleret intellektuelt, socialt eller oplevelsesmæssigt på samme niveau som før.

Det har været nødvendigt. Min hjerne kan ikke længere bearbejde så meget aktivitet. Jeg har skulle fokusere på min recovery. Tage en dag ad gangen. Ikke udsætte mig selv for stress. Og jeg kan stadig mærke, hvordan min sygdom påvirker mig, selv her 12 år efter, jeg gik ned med flaget.

Jeg kan ikke følge instruktioner – for jeg kan ikke huske (på grund af sygdommens virkning på min kognition), hvad jeg har fået at vide, et halvt minut efter at have fået instruktionen. Sådan var det også i skolen op til min sygdomsperiode – jeg kunne ikke bearbejde, hvad læreren sagde, og måtte næsten altid spørge mine klassekammerater, hvad vi havde fået til opgave.

Den går ikke på en arbejdsplads i dagens samfund, hvor opgaverne skal laves effektivt uden for mange dikkedarer.

Jeg kunne fyre en masse andre ting af, som jeg ikke længere kan, men jeg vil egentlig ikke tale mig selv ned … der er jo også meget, jeg stadig kan. Jeg har bare brug for, at ”rammerne” – altså min rolige, ”kedelige” hverdag – er i orden. Så kan jeg udfordre mig selv lidt og træde en smule uden for min komfortzone, når jeg har ”plads i hovedet” til det.

Det ændrer ikke på, at det har været en smertefuld proces at vænne mig til, at jeg ikke ”får lov” til at bruge min hjerne … at jeg ikke kan gøre bedre brug af den IQ, jeg er blevet tildelt. Mange gange i mit recoveryforløb har jeg hungret efter stimulation og den spænding, jeg får af at løse udfordringer … men samtidig kæmpet med at læse en bog færdig, som jeg slugte på rekordtid, da jeg var barn.

Det har været, hvis vi skal være lidt dramatiske, den rene tortur.

Med daglige stemmer i hovedet.

Og jeg er slet ikke kommet ind på, hvordan det (socialt) føles at have en drive som en Border Collie – på et lille indhegnet område.

Men nu har jeg ikke mere at tilføje. Stay tuned for næste indlæg!


A slow start to the new year. The kind of two weeks where all you’re thinking is, “I hope (and pray) that nobody randomly shows up at my front door”. I was tired, unproductive, and somewhat lax on washing the dishes and tidying up. Couldn’t bring myself to do much at all. Not even go for a walk, or text a friend. I’m not depressed or in relapse, not at all … but I always find January a bit difficult in terms of energy and mental surplus.

Then, my book came out.

And, as I always do, I rallied and got myself together again.

Now my flat is spick and span, my head is clearer and I’ve managed to go walking.

12th January 2023. My English book came out. And I already have several five-star reviews on Amazon and Saxo. This has given me such a surge and boost, I can’t tell you how great it feels.

A published author – internationally!

Not only how great it feels … but how right it feels. I feel I’m well on my way to demonstrating what I’m best at. I’m 28 and determined to succeed … and this is just the beginning. My illness limits me in so many ways, but it hasn’t broken my spirit – and that’s perhaps the most important thing of all.

Have you heard the song “Hall of Fame” by The Script? It’s one of my current favourites, along with Taeyeon’s “Spark” and Zara Larsson’s new number, “Can’t Tame Her”. I’m also listening to Måneskin’s new album, RUSH!, on repeat – but the first three songs I mentioned really sum up where my head is at the moment. Oh, and “Warrior” by Nina Sublatti – a Eurovision work of art (from 2015). Maybe I should make a “pump-you-up” playlist, schizophrenic author edition 😉

Anyway, my point with mentioning all of this is that I’m feeling good. Happy. Driven. Capable. Confident. I’m taking my medicine, I’m getting plenty of rest, and I’m also pushing myself beyond what any of us thought possible – in my own way and without overstepping my own boundaries.

Additionally, I’m helping people and reaching a wider audience with my story, which I hope will touch the lives of many and give hope to those who need it the most. In the midst of all the glory and soaring confidence, this is a significant reminder for me to keep sharing my experiences, reflecting and pushing ahead.

I won’t stop until I’m done.

So, Georgia. You’re a published author in Denmark. You’re a published author in the UK. What’s next?

We’ll see, my friends … we’ll see 🙂

Bring on 2023.


This was meant to be a funny post. But I’m sitting at my computer typing. And you know s*** gets serious when Georgia writes a blog post on her computer and not her phone.

I was talking with a dear friend yesterday about the subject of vulnerability. My friend is social, outgoing, affectionate and I especially admire her for her ability to dive into life head first with curiosity and an open heart. We were talking about relationships, and she was curious about my current approach to them.

Well, *Georgia clasps hands together* … let me tell you a little about what this dorky schizophrenic has thought about the world of relationships (and vulnerability) in her 28 years on this planet.

Basically, I’ve never been in one. I struggled with things like reading social cues and taking initiative before I got ill – and after I got ill, the focus was mainly on recovery, not finding a partner. This has given me pleeeeeeenty of time to think about the subject.

As I’ve written about before, I’ve had crushes. I’ve been on dates. I’ve been rejected (ouch). I’ve rejected others (double ouch). I’ve been confused, curious, interested, quiet, pensive, hurt, sensitive and, at times, felt like I wasn’t good enough.

I’ve been on dating apps, tried them out, deactivated them again. As I told my friend yesterday, sometimes I’m invested – other times I’m not. It really all depends on what time of the day you find me in. But, basically, I’m super-happy with my life and don’t ‘need’ a partner to fill any gaps.

This is not to say it wouldn’t be nice. But nice is different from necessary.

Hollywood rom-coms would make you believe that being in a relationship is the ultimate ‘thing’; my friend described how society seems to believe that being single is an ‘undesirable’ state to be in.

But it’s not.

Being single is the epitome of freedom. You can pretty much do whatever you want, whenever you want, and you don’t have to take someone else’s feelings or opinions into consideration. Of course, we all have commitments, we all have people we care about and a willingness to help others; I’m not saying that one should be completely indifferent to other people. I’m just saying that, on the one hand, there’s something gloriously peaceful and uncomplicated about just being in a relationship with yourself.

On the other hand, relationships ARE (can be!) wonderful. Even having never been in one, I can see how being in a loving, healthy relationship is a precious gift. And yes, I’ve wanted it for myself, too.

But not at all costs.

Especially after my illness, I’ve had to be super-focused on myself – and my recovery. Schizophrenia has taken years of my life away – years that most young people spend socialising, flirting, studying and working … you get my drift. So, in many ways, I have an ‘excuse’ as to why it’s ‘never worked out’ for me.

On the subject of vulnerability, however …

When I was a child, I cried a lot. I was sensitive. I had no problem showing what I was feeling, even if it was ‘negative’. I’m still sensitive, but in a less ‘raw’ way. As we grow up, we mature and find other ways to cope with – and, sometimes, hide – our feelings.

I have often pondered what the best thing to do is; wear your heart on your sleeve and risk getting rejected, teased or hurt? Keep your cool and risk losing someone you were too afraid to express yourself honestly towards?

I’ve always picked the latter.

What about you?


What ten songs would you pick for the soundtrack of your life?

I’m in a music mood, so here are mine!


Aly & AJ – Walking On Sunshine

The ultimate happy song. I love it. It perfectly captures that feeling of elation and excitement for the future. (I know Katrina and the Waves did the original, but Aly & AJ’s is the version I remember from my childhood.)


Avril Lavigne – Nobody’s Fool

The whole first verse is my favourite. The musical form of “Do no harm, take no s**t”. My first “artist album” was Let Go by Avril, who I just thought was the coolest person ever. She expressed feelings and experiences I didn’t even know I had yet, while remaining cool and edgy in her style. To little Georgia, for whom the world was pink and fluffy, Avril was an awesome mix of sensitive, trendy, and insanely talented. Still is.


Coldplay – Talk

Where life is changeable, music is constant. When life is cruel and chaotic, music stays the same – it’s always right there where you left it and there’s no risk of it ever leaving. When things seem too much to bear, Coldplay understands. I felt like everyone was talking to me in a language I didn’t speak, and this song got me through the toughest times I never wish to revisit. Plus, it reminds me of my best friend, who listened to “Talk” with me on a school trip to Prague.


Linkin Park – Numb

For a pop addict like me, Linkin Park was positively hardcore. I really enjoy watching music videos, and this one spoke to me on some level when I was struggling. Quiet, arty girl who’s being bullied at school? Ticks all the boxes. Thank you, and rest in peace, Chester Bennington.


Madison Beer – Stained Glass

I think the lyrics are really clever in this one. It’s all about sensitivity and how harsh words can damage us, but with layered metaphors centred around the fragility, colours and fractures of “stained glass”. I went to see Madison Beer in concert and enjoyed every minute – unless you’re a staunch metalhead (and if you haven’t already), give her music a listen.


Natasha Bedingfield – These Words

Whew … that got deep! So, here’s an upbeat, fun song that brilliantly describes the struggle of the writer. I listened to it a lot in my childhood.


Nickelback – Savin’ Me

I have yet to watch a music video that I’ve found as interesting as this one. Clever, well-executed, and sad (I wouldn’t recommend watching it if you’ve just lost a loved one), its concept is just … well, clever. Thought-provoking and original. I do love the lyrics too.


Robbie Williams – Feel

This song reminds me to live up to my full potential. Don’t let all the life running through your veins go to waste …


Sia – Elastic Heart

Again, the music video is a masterpiece, but I also listened to this song on repeat for a long time to get me through a dip in my health. Sia powerfully captures the essence of “you won’t f***ing break me” in 4 minutes and 16 seconds. It’s strong, relatable, vulnerable and moving, all in one little song. Have you listened to it?


Spice Girls – Viva Forever

Okay, another music video that I LOVE! Growing up in London, with the Spice Girls as a big part of a little blue-eyed girl’s everyday life, I HAD to have them on the list. This is my favourite song by them, and brings back all the feels and memories of childhood.

So … which Spice Girl were you? I was Baby 👱🏻‍♀️


Taylor Swift – Love Story

No Georgia playlist would be complete without T-Swizzle, so of course, I had to pick the first one I ever listened to, Love Story. It’s been a love story about her music ever since 😉

Did my (eleven) choices surprise you? What would yours be?

About communication and self-expression when you have schizophrenia (and depression)

There’s a saying that goes “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak”. I have always loved this quote. When words failed me, I could always express myself through my clothes. When I was a teenager, I felt like a walking contradiction; super-quiet, but always dressed in bright colours. I didn’t own one piece of black clothing, and even my braces had multicoloured bands.

I read another quote recently: “If a composer could say what he had to say in words, he would not bother trying to say it in music”. A slightly different take on the subject. It got me thinking; thinking about my own struggles and difficulties with communication. In a way, my schizophrenia diagnosis in 2012 came as a relief; now I finally had answers to why I’d struggled socially all my life. I started my first blog in 2016 as a way to express myself – through writing, I could say everything I needed to say, in a controlled and personal manner without interruptions or misunderstandings. I hoped it would clarify things, both for others and for myself – which it certainly has.

However, writing has not been my only therapy (aside from the regular sessions with my psychiatrist). I have also used art as a means to communicate who I am.

When I was younger, I drew manga girls in different outfits. When I was even younger, I drew animals. Now, I draw and paint portraits – to order, when I’m able to cope with it. Schizophrenia doesn’t like to make things easy, and even my artistic side suffered during the worst period of the illness; I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a pencil. This was particularly devastating when I couldn’t rely on my mouth to articulate everything on my mind; I felt like I’d lost myself.

The portrait I entered in the competition. “Jay Pee”, 2020-21, acrylic on canvas.

I recently entered a portrait competition. This was a HUGE hurdle to overcome for me, despite being something I’d wanted to do for a while. My ambivalence (a crippling by-product of schizophrenia) means that, even when I have a strong desire to achieve something, my brain goes into overdrive finding all the reasons why I shouldn’t try. In the past, this would be accompanied by aggressively critical voices (the kind only I can hear) and, as a result, nothing would come of my aspirations. I’m not saying it’s much different now – I still have to design my life around my illness – but I’m hoping that, with effort, I can keep pushing the limits at my own pace and not let the darkness win.

As it so happens, I received a diagnosis of depression not long ago. I may have to grapple with my own mind for a while yet, but at least I have my creative outlets.

In any case, it definitely won’t stop me wearing bright colours.

A Little Poem (by Georgia Brask)

Sometimes, in life, the hand you’re dealt is mightily unfair
Could write a trilogy of books and still have prose to spare
How could the higher power be so merciless to me?
I’ve always seen myself as good; I wouldn’t hurt a flea
Zoning out is how it started—my mind would disappear
Overrun by voices, the kind that only I could hear
Paranoia creeping in and making life chaotic
How was I to know that this was called being psychotic?
Rightly, I soon was sectioned to a psychiatric ward
Each day a mix of medicine, care and feeling rather bored
Now, it’s been almost nine years since my time in that safe space
I’m further, strong and happier; the problems that I face
Are by no means easier, I’ve just learned to get better …
… and if you’d like to know my fight, read each line’s first letter.