I've just finished reading David Harewood's heartwarming and poignant memoir.
David is a famous actor, best known for his role in Homeland. The book is nostalgic but I also share many similarities with David - same age, both grew up in Birmingham in the 70s and 80s. Both endured vast amounts of racism and suffered from huge traumas. David had such severe psychosis that he was locked up in a mental health ward twice; my traumas were more physical although I did suffer depression after my 3rd heart attack.
David speaks with amazing candour about his experiences, primarily for the purpose of helping others. I found the book uplifting as he overcomes his mental illness to lead an inspired acting career but also found the book v sad; to read how much abuse he had to continually endure, almost daily just because of his colour. It brought back a lot of painful memories for me too in that regard.
The book is a catalyst for change, especially in our attitudes towards mental health and also how much bias there still exists in the treatment of people. E.g. 4 times as many black people are likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white people.
Ultimately, the book is one of hope and full of life lessons:
1 We all have the capability of being extremely resilient, no matter what we have endured.
2 Mental illness can affect us all, regardless of our status and success.
3 How society/people/organisations treat us has a huge impact on our well-being.
4 Keeping painful experiences hidden in the recesses of our mind only stores up problems later on in our life - his father's breakdown and my experiences attest to that.
5 Friendships and family play a huge role in our well-being and recovery.
6 Our traumas and illnesses do NOT define us. Instead, we can use them to grow, become more resilient and reaffirm our self-belief.
The book is an important step in helping remove the stigma surrounding mental health. I hope the book will encourage anyone suffering from mental health issues not to continue to suffer alone in silence.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this book or even on anything I have said in this blog. Please email me at info@XtraClarity.com