Written for the BBC Book of the Future 2020. Stuart Baker-Brown.
I have many personal theories about life and existence. I am in search of reality. Schizophrenia has, in many ways, given me many tools to have a different perspective on life and to question life in ways I may not have been able to do so, without the experience of its symptoms. Below is a fun article, but with a serious theory, written by me about Life After Death in 2003 for the BBC. I have had many strange experiences in my life, psychiatry would say its a part of my psychosis, others say spiritual.
Although I have had many Psychic encounters, they became far more powerful when experiencing full blown symptoms of schizophrenia. I have seen many, so called 'Ghosts' and Hallucinations, which have caused me to try and understand the 'Truth'.
Schizophrenia has given me depth and although I never want to experience its destruction again, it has, for sure, left me a far deeper and thoughtful man.
Life After Death
It is now becoming common knowledge in the year 2020 that life after death does truly exist. Scientists have become aware, especially over the last ten years, that it is very possible the human mind has created an 'afterlife' as a means of survival. Man has always turned to religion and faith as a belief of afterlife, but now, it is widely accepted that the mind carries on existing after the body dies. In fact, it has now been agreed by science that the mind can be officially recognised as the human spirit.
Up until the beginning of the 21st century the afterlife was a matter of faith. Scientists who had personal experiences of 'apparitions' began to speak out and demand a full investigation into the possibility that 'ghosts' could exists. The 1st question that puzzled Dr Zeus of the British Goverment's Spiritual Awareness Department was, why many experiences of 'ghosts' were of recent history only and did not include earlier man (e.g. Neolithic).
Experiments which have been conducted over the past 10 years has helped convince the Department that afterlife does certainly exist. Dr Zeus said 'The experiments are highly confidential but I can inform you that it is now our belief that the afterlife does exist'.
When asked if 'Life After Death' has always existed, Dr Zeus stated 'It is our conclusion that it was only when the human mind was advanced enough to start the creation of 'afterlife' that the afterlife started to actually exist. Its simply the fact that we have yearned for it for so long that we ourselves created it. The mind and its imagination is the most powerful tool. There were some arguments as to when 'life after death' began. It is now accepted amongst scientists at the Department, although for thousands of years man did believe in afterlife, afterlife may not have found its roots until around 2000-3000 years ago. Our belief in it, has made it happen.
Dr Zeus continued to say 'The evidence is overwhelming. We have thought for a while that our minds have instinctively created life after death as a means of survival. We now know it to be true. And to think, for thousands of years we believed in a God that created Heaven, when all along it was and is the human mind that holds the key to everything.'
Dr Zeus stated, 'We are our own Gods and always have been.'
Rebecca Brown. BBC London. 2020.
Mental wellness can not be fully defined. If it was to be defined, then I believe it would be defined by the ability to function equally in ones own culture and habitat, the ability to reach our own expectations in life and successfully deal with the trials and difficulties that lay on our path. Maybe mental wellness can be defined by a warm smile, a happy laugh, no matter our situation. The ability to enjoy life and to keep ourselves physically and mentally balanced and strong.
As someone that has lived with the destruction of Paranoid Schizophrenia, I can recognise strongly what mental wellness means to me, simply, because I know 1st hand how mental un-wellness has played a part in the destruction of my life. Mental wellness means different things to each individual and I believe to become aware of mental wellness you have to be very aware of mental un-wellness.
My own illness was triggered by my involvement with marching on the streets of Moscow in 1991, against the communist hardliners who attempted a coup against the then Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev. On my return to London I feared persecution from the KGB for my involvement with the marching. The stress and anxiety I was experiencing quickly formed into the destructive symptoms of schizophrenia.
My mental un-wellness was very apparent. My symptoms included voices, psychosis, false and irrational beliefs, thought disorder, suicidal thoughts, depression, lack of motivation, the feeling of being controlled by outside forces and paranoia and fear of persecution. These strong symptoms stayed with me for many years and I was unable to function in life, socialise, or complete the smallest of tasks. Even having a shower or shaving was sometimes too much and reduced me to tears.
Now, in 2007, my mental wellness can be strongly recognised. My own journey with schizophrenia, has taken me from the streets of Moscow, to the depths of demoralisation, to the heights of the Himalayas. Mental wellness has been established through my own self belief and will to survive and a strong recognition of how to work with and cope with the difficulties of schizophrenia.
My own wellness can be recognised and measured by good self esteem, the resilience to overcome and to control and recover from my symptoms. The ability to socialise, travel, communicate more eloquently and to maintain the ability of a good strong healthy body and mind. To survive and work on an equal basis within the expectations of myself and the world which now surrounds me. The ability to adapt and cope with whatever obstacles may lay in my path. The ability to be me!
Mental wellness has also been established by eventually finding a medication which worked with me, Seroquel, and the final recognition by others and myself, that I am greater than my diagnosis of schizophrenia. The holistic recognition of me, the whole person and my true capabilities, beyond that of a man who could do nothing more than try and cope with the destruction of his illness.
For many years I did not wear a watch. I could not bare to look at a clock. I felt TIME had forgotten me. I played no part in the past, present or future. Recovery from schizophrenia has been a long journey. I can remember clearly, on one Autumn day in 2002, walking along the main high street in Dorchester Dorset UK. Just the fact I was walking by myself in the high street was proof of my new found confidence and growing strength of mind.
I had gone to Dorchester with the aim to buy myself a watch and to force TIME and the feeling of self worth back into my life. To make myself recognise my recovery was begining and that my role as a fellow human being and importance as an equal individual was being re-established. By me!
I could only afford a watch which cost £10. But the symbolic statement it made as I wrapped the watch around my wrist was priceless. Suddenly, I was a part of TIME once more. Suddenly, I became part of the Human Race again.
I now own a kitchen clock and 2 watches. Maybe, as my life continues to improve, I may buy another, a third and then a fourth.