By Adam Grieve
Key Themes: Schizophrenia, Mental Health, Homelessness, Adventure
I wrote The Complete Neville Vorshak with the idea of turning mental illness into something which can be an adventurous story creating empathy for the sufferer and pathos for the reader. I do not wish to make the subject something which is only depressing and without hope. I tried to introduce humour to a subject which can be without humour, and where the daily struggle of life for us all can become dull and monotonous, I try to introduce change and just a little bit of hope, however remote.
The more I wrote the more I discovered that life for the mentally ill person is not just about mental illness, it’s about a lot more.
About the Author
He was born in a turbulent South Africa in 1963. Plagued by mental illness from as young as 14, he continually ran away from school, drank and played truant. Forced into two years of compulsory military service he went AWOL in his first year. Family having broken up and emigrated, he went on to work in factories, hotels and warehouses, but landed up on the streets twice “Following Jesus.” Against the misery of the apartheid regime and the continual loneliness and isolation of mental illness, he travelled to America where he studied fine art but never finished, and he ended up cleaning windows while living with his mother. In answer to the unending psychosis he left for Italy where he landed up on the streets again “Following Jesus,” and visiting monasteries and begging for food in brothels along the way.
Then it was back to Africa for incarceration in psychiatric hospital, as the schizophrenia got worse, then finally the escape to London. There he worked in more factories and hotels, but the mental illness got worse and he was back in psychiatric hospital. Put on strong anti-psychotic drugs daily, he has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals ever since, but has managed to further his creative life by studying art and writing, almost every day, completing sixteen diplomas and one degree so far, as well as hundreds of journals.
All he is really interested in now in improving his writing and painting skills and obtaining further degrees in these two subjects. At the moment he is putting together a life time collection of short stories with the hope of making his work something real and concrete, and a source of entertainment and enjoyment to the public.
We passed out of my neighbourhood of Finsbury Park, crossed Green Lanes via the back way of St Anne’s and down to St Anne’s road through the hospital gates to the emergency reception. The policeman sitting near me dug hard in my ribs again and when he turned away to open the door, I spat silently on his trouser leg. I was escorted through the parking lot to the door where the buzzer was rung. Above the emergency door I could make out what used to be the smoking room for Alexandra ward, which was now just another TV room. A few of the patients looked down at the police car and laughed. One older guy about 60, was picking his nose and his jaw was opening and closing spasmodically while his eyes bulged furiously, hair thrown unevenly across his face.
The policeman buzzed again and finally a Mauritian receptionist let us in where they handed him a form. They took off my handcuffs and the one who had knocked me repeatedly in the ribs snarled at me, ‘you fucking cocksucker,’ he threw my rucksack on the floor, then they left. The Mauritian locked the door behind them and I sat on one of the many blue plastic chairs arranged in an arc around the reception area. He returned to his desk behind a thick glass partition and locked himself in.
‘How long before a consultant gets here?’ I asked.
‘Could be any time,’ came the Mauritian’s reply. He coughed, went back to watching the small TV, pretending to be glancing at paperwork.
I didn’t have much of a hope of getting out this time, if Jackie had her way. I might be here for good. Around the grounds of St Anne’s I’d probably land up in one of the many houses for permanent, incurable, long term mentally ill patients. Might even die here.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 28 July, 2011.