I’ve spent a lot of my life in psychiatric care, and that has had an effect on me. If you get up at the same time every day, and go through a routine where you have no choices, no decisions and few rights, you learn not to want or even need them. Where everything is provided for you, you find it easy to learn to vegetate, to leave yourself behind, and become what they say to you, what they tell you, what they want you to be. That becomes pleasant; you grow to want it, to like the attention that you get from being unwell, and it becomes easier to be sick, because then you remain in the same safe patterns, you’re not trying to test anything new, you’re just following in the same steps you always were. Despite this almost-conscious wish not to leave the place where you have no responsibilities, you end up doing just that, leaving. You are officially better, and it is time for you to get out of the sameness, and move into the real world. You throw yourself into it, minimising any kind of responsibilities, trying to keep it all the same as it was when you were in hospital but that isn’t possible any longer, and despite it being difficult, you eventually learn to be who you need to be, you become responsible, an adult, and you blend and merge into the real world, just like everyone else. This is the bit where you think you’re better, where you think you’re normal and recovered and sane, and where your life carries on in those patterns. After some time, you end up going away to some kind of event, it doesn’t really matter what event it is, a residential conference maybe. You’re getting up at a fixed time, and all your meals are being provided for you. You don’t need to choose what you do with your time, and you end up with no responsibilities. Before you know it, you end up back where you were, back to being unable to be self-reliant, back to being institutionalised, and if you’re not careful, back to being insane. This is what happens, and each time being institutionalised takes a little bit longer, so by that token you’re a little bit weller, but it still happens, mainly because it always has, and it always will. Once you’ve been institutionalised, you’re never the same person again, and however much you want to change, you can’t. These things are soul destroying, life destroying, and eventually you end up no more or less of a shell than the body you inhabit. Hospital kills you. It takes your psyche to pieces and it destroys you, because that’s how it works. Learning to be well is what happens after, it’s about putting the bits of you back together long after you thought you had. It’s about knowing yourself, and I certainly don’t know myself.