I love performing my show, mostly because of the second half where I have the privilege of sitting on stage and letting the audience take over to ask, answer or discuss whatever. For those 20-30 minutes it feels like I'm with my people that we're the same under our fronts with all our vulnerabilities we need to hide.
Imagine being unable to stand everything about yourself. Your voice, your thoughts, your body, your personality. I can't now. Though years ago, I came pretty close. And if Jonny Benjamin can be honest, then so can I... It's several years ago now and feels like a different lifetime. I've been a happy person, getting even happier year on year since. But back then, after hitting rock bottom, in order to survive, I drew a line under these experiences and locked the memories away. I shoved them all in a box, along with my Shadow Self, so that they - and it - couldn't hurt me or anyone else anymore.
Forget the 'mental' and just think 'illness'. I was ill, seriously ill, three times in my life. I was in hospital for three months on each occasion and took a long while afterwards to convalesce. But now I have been well for many years. I do not take medication. I am capable and active - I am married, with four wonderful children, a career and a happy, fulfilling life. Ergo, I am better.
Whilst I'm in the shower, Dorothy starts talking to me. Dorothy is the voice I currently hear. Thankfully, she's also the only voice I hear at the moment. I've only been hearing her for a few months but she's very similar to other voices I've heard in the past - nasty. Dorothy tells me that satellites are watching me whilst I shower.
It's not been easy reliving what led me to attempting suicide. But it's also been something of a revelation. Looking back, I had always thought it was receiving my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and depression, which had caused me to want to end my life. But there was also a secret which I was hiding from everyone around me that I also could no longer bear to live with.
It takes a particular kind of creative, self-obsessive, imaginative, observant and courageous person to bare their very soul on stage. It is not always funny either, the image of the sad clown and smiley face, sad face masks of comedy and tragedy are emblematic of the tortured genius that inhabits some of the world's greatest comedians.
On 14 January 2008 I travelled to Waterloo Bridge to take my life. It was a bitterly cold, grey Monday morning and the rain was beginning to fall when I stepped onto the edge of the bridge, ready to jump. I can't remember all the many thoughts and feelings buzzing around my mind as I stood there looking down to the water below. All I can recall is a feeling of total despair. The very next minute of my existence seemed too painful to bear. I don't know how long I was standing there for before I heard a man's voice behind me say: "Please mate, please don't do this."
Seven years ago, the monster called schizophrenia introduced itself to me through an auditory hallucination (a voice). At first, this voice was reassuring and calming. After a short while, it became apparent that this voice was a wolf in sheep's clothing. It wasn't a voice that reassured me or calmed me down anymore.