Henry Cockburn: I like to be liked – and finally I’ve found friends who really like me

Schizophrenia: Our lives now

Here I am in the drama club. I haven’t been for three months. This is a drama club for people with mental issues. We meet twice a week. The hall is big and empty. We organise some chairs and a table at the bottom of the hall. I look round the table. These are faces I know and I imagine each person as a snapshot illustrating my past in mental hospitals and half-way houses in north-east Kent.

There is Jane: She wears a cross around her neck. I knew her from back in Anselm ward when I was first in St Martin’s Hospital, Canterbury. She was there when I was first sectioned in 2003. The main thing I can remember about her is her coming into my room naked at 10 in the morning. A nurse dragged her out.

Katie: I knew Katie when I was at The Grove rehabilitation centre in Ramsgate. She is someone I would class as a friend. She lives in Whitstable now above her dad’s shop.

Willie: I think I know Willie from Ethelbert Road rehabilitation centre. He is always smiling. He can play the clarinet like a diamond, but he keeps forgetting to bring it.

Fritz: I know him from St Martin’s Hospital. He used to have more than 200 body piercings but he’s taken them all out and now has a lot of holes in his face.

Mark: He looks a bit like God and has 12 cats. He said the other day that three kittens were born on his lap. I told him that I had read that a cat had been shot in Herne Bay. This was tactless of me.

James: He is quietly spoken. He mumbles a lot but is a good actor and is best suited for being part of our Dennis the Menace sketch.

Anna: Quiet Anna has the softest voice you ever heard. And I would be surprised if anybody had ever said a bad word about her. She is not here today so somebody else has to get the milk for our tea.

Andrew: He is a godfather and enjoys singing old ditties. He’s got a lot of old songs that we perform.

Teresa: She lives in a rehab centre with Willie and James. She is passionate about horses and is forever shaking her right arm. It’s quite disconcerting to watch.

Daisy: She is older than the rest of us. She wears dashing clothes and is usually accompanied by a carer. No one quite knows what Daisy thinks. I first met her in art therapy class group when I was in rehab. She has a voice a bit like Mr Bean and she introduces each of the plays.

My point is that most of these people at my drama group I’ve met in mental hospitals, rehab or art and drama therapy in Canterbury, Ramsgate, Herne Bay and Whitstable, and they are innately good people and none of us is violent. We tell jokes and Fritz, with his big fat belly, chews Nicorette. He says he has given up cigarettes for 12 weeks.

These are my friends now. I am a different person from the one I was before I was hospitalised for eight years. Before that I was in an art college in Brighton. I met many people there whom I thought were my friends. But when I went into hospital none of them tried to contact me. I wonder what they thought. Perhaps “Henry became weird” or “he must have screwed up on acid”. Since then I’ve got in contact with a few old faces, but it’s all one way and none of them tried to get in touch with me.

I go to art therapy and did some good drawings. When we were talking about the pictures I started clicking my knuckles. One of the other patients flipped. I thought he was going to hit me. He told me I was “ignorant” and rude. Every week I seem to make him angry. I think he really doesn’t like me. It’s really on my mind. I really do not like not being liked. Little things like this tip the balance for me.

Schizophrenia: The shame of silence, the relief of disclosure

Henry Cockburn: If I say I'm schizophrenic people reply, 'So you've got a split personality'

The stigma of the hidden schizophrenia epidemic

Editorial: We are failing sufferers of mental illness

Is this the 'tobacco moment' for cannabis?

Henry Cockburn: 'I can hear what other people can't'

Fashion advice from the shrink’s sofa

The demise of the asylum and the rise of care in the community

Henry Cockburn: I was trying to listen to my shoes. I thought I was going to be put in a straitjacket

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    KS1 Primary Teacher

    £100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

    KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

    £140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

    Year 1/2 Teacher

    £130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

    Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

    £140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam