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

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
VIDEO
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Geography Teacher

    £130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

    Do you want to work in Education?

    £55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

    Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

    Day In a Page

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

    The man who could have been champion of the world

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
    Didn’t she do well?

    Didn’t she do well?

    Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
    Before they were famous

    Before they were famous

    Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

    Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players