Graphic novel tells of one man’s journey through schizophrenia to recovery
A new graphic novel tells the true story of one man’s life with schizophrenia and his journey through psychotic episodes, asylums, medication and vagrancy.
Side Effects was written by Andrew Voyce who has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, and illustrated by professional graphic artist Øivind Hovland. It was edited by Hannah Cordle and published by Recovery.
Andrew Voyce, from Bexhill, was born in 1951 in London. A serious road accident at age 17 left him with a disability which, combined with other life events, led him to develop schizophrenia. Over the course of 20 years, Andrew received multiple admissions and discharges to asylums in East Sussex and Kent. He was admitted eight times, three of these under the Mental Health Act, and ordered to receive antipsychotic medication.
Administered by injection, the medication caused a debilitating side effect called akathisia, or constant restlessness, which lasted for seven days afterwards. Upon discharge Andrew would cease to turn up for injections, psychotic episodes would follow, together with contact with the criminal justice system, and Andrew would be returned to an asylum.
Andrew credits Margaret Thatcher for changing his life when the asylums were closed down under the NHS and Community Acre Act 1990 and community care introduced. He now lives a stable life in the community and has not been an inpatient or reoffended.
He has revived his academic career by obtaining an MA in social and public policy, engaged with the mental health service user movement, and has seen a quality of life with personal relationships.
Andrew is a believer in the power of narrative to be a therapeutic and cathartic activity. As well as being a creative process, narrative can lead to catharsis and can enable moving on from difficult times. Andrew has produced narrative in text, and has published work with Chipmunka Press and in service user anthologies, such as Mental Health Recovery Heroes Past and Present.’ Andrew has also been encouraged to develop digital cartoons, http://www.slideshare.net/AndrewsAsylumLife. Andrew speaks as an expert by experience at mental health awareness events.
Andrew says he is pleased to be where he is now, and to have a quality of life. He acknowledges the support and encouragement he has had from day care staff, from artists, and from local commissioners who have enabled the setting up of a social enterprise which Andrew is proud to say has now achieved two successful years.
About Øivind Hovland
Øivind spent his university years ‘living’ in the print room, experimenting with various printing techniques. Screenprinting emerged as his weapon of choice, and the technique continues to influence his digital and printed work. To Øivind, illustration is about storytelling. ‘Even if you only have one small image at your disposal, a story can still be told. And that, in a nutshell is my aim, to tell a story using whatever means I have’. He has been fortunate enough to tell stories for a long list of international clients, over a broad range of media. Øivind is also the author of two illustrated books, published by Tabella, and his work has been short listed for the Nationwide Mercury Prize Art Exhibition. He is represented by NB Illustration.
About Hannah Cordle
After graduating with a degree in English, Hannah trained as a reporter and spent ten years working as a journalist and in communications. She has a particular interest in psychology and mental health, obtaining a graduate diploma in psychology in 2010. In the same year she co-edited a collection of narratives by people with schizophrenia/psychosis, Psychosis: Stories of Recovery and Hope published by Quay Books.
Side Effects was funded by a £14,400 grant from the Maudsley Charity. For further information or to buy a copy of Side Effects (£6) please contact SideEffectsBook@yahoo.co.uk