Content warning: mental health topic Taken from Disobedient Magazine Issue 01
‘The story of a psychotic teen is one that does not always involve a solemn tale of a broken life, sometimes it entails a nervous poo, a badly timed movie quote, and a great sense of humour.’
In this piece of writing I don’t wish to spark a heated political debate, nor do I wish to speak on behalf of all mentally ill individuals. I wish to tell you a story that details my experience with mental illness and, to the disdain of mainstream movie makers and journalists alike, the gross misconceptions that come along with such an experience.
The capitalisation of the mentally ill is one Hollywood has long profited from, Hollywood’s idea of a mentally ill person is a violent, malicious and murderous member of society. Someone who transforms at the sight of a full moon or spirals into a murderous rage on the same night every year. I hate to disappoint those who are fascinated by the peculiar characters they have grown to fetishise but I am a 16-year-old girl who has first-hand experience with psychosis. I go to college, I do a weekly shop, I go to the cinema with friends, yes…gasp… I walk among the “normal”, the sound, the sane. My story is not one with great excitement or fear, it’s not one that will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what involuntary movement I will make next or what unheard voice I will respond to. Nor is it one of a frail, middle-class girl with a messy bun and a man ready to save her. This story, unfortunately, is far less interesting.
My story is one of the trips to psychiatry appointments, the highlights of which range anywhere from hearing of the adventures of her cat, to the rambling of my lack of adventures. My story also entails many failed attempts to return to high school which were never helped by my disdain for authority and my stubborn left-wing views of the education system - of which I had no problem sharing with many a bemused guidance teacher. The highlights of my experience with being a mentally ill teenager are the hilarious interactions I’ve had which, on reflection, beg the question of whether I have an incredible personality or a severe lack of self-awareness. Situations like quoting The Silence of the Lambs to unsuspecting mental health professionals are the interactions that, ironically, have kept me sane. They are the interactions that remind me that behind all the appointments, medication and formal meetings, I am a human being with the ability to laugh at whatever ridiculous situation life throws at me.
There haven’t been many opportunities in my life that have been given to me that create such laughable situations and stories that I can tell whenever an awkward silence arises - or the occasions I have felt at my most mentally vulnerable. Oh, how I wish I had stories of great theatrical value that could one day be adapted into a feature length film or a thriller style novel. Instead, I am left with a story like the time I spent my allocated hour and a half in school doing a nervous poo instead of my English essay, or the time my therapist asked me what shape I saw when I looked in the mirror and I naively replied “a rectangle?” - oh, how we laughed.
I suppose in my reminiscent rambling I’m attempting to make clear that life with or without a serious mental illness has its ups and its downs. The onset of psychosis does not suddenly turn your life into a Stephen King best seller, nor does it necessarily turn your life into the boring combination of medication and isolation (as much as Hollywood would like you to believe). The story of a psychotic teen is one that does not always involve a solemn tale of a broken life, sometimes it entails a nervous poo, a badly timed movie quote, and a great sense of humour.
Molly Lyon is a 16-year-old Political Science student and activist based in Inverclyde. Her activism focuses on queer and working-class issues as well as mental health activism and awareness. She has always loved to use writing and art as a way to take up space in political spaces and discussion, drawing inspiration from current political activists such as Munroe Bergdorf and Owen Jones. Molly draws inspiration from artists such as Bob Dylan and PJ Harvey, who use their art as a means to spark political discourse, which is something she aims to achieve when creating her art.
In her article entitled 'The Radically Boring Life of a Psychotic Teen' - Molly speaks of the expectations that are attached when you are open about your mental health as well as the media representation of those with psychosis.