David Harewood describes himself as an actor, director, writer and “more importantly, a resilient survivor of psychosis, trying to reduce the stigma attached to mental ill health.” He’s focussed on eradicating the shame that still exists around having experienced – or continuing to live with – mental ill health, and he couldn’t be more proud, he shares, of the olympians and sportspeople who’ve recently spoken out about theirs.
Read David’s full interview in Happiful’s October issue – out on 16 September
David previously shared his own experience of mental ill health in a BBC documentary David Harewood: Psychosis and Me. During filming he began to remember traumatic memories that he’d buried, and the result was overwhelming.
However, two years after making the programme, and with the time that lockdown afforded, David revisited the medical records he’d been given during filming and began to write his book Maybe I Don’t Belong Here: A Memoir of Race, Identity, Breakdown and Recovery. He hoped that by sharing his own experience, from his childhood to the current day, he would help others to feel less alone or understand loved ones’ challenges.
Writing the book helped David personally, although it was a tough process to go through. “I had to sit with my demons and some of the uncomfortable things that helped destabilise me when I had my breakdown thirty years ago. We bury those fears and insecurities and we never want to face them, and it can be difficult to do so.”
“I feel that having written the book and sat with those dark secrets and insecurities, I just feel quite liberated. I know that I’ve played a superhero over the past couple of years, but I do sort of feel that I’ve been given a suit of armor by facing up to my fears,” he explains.
Personally penning the book was massively significant for him too. “I have to say that I’m proud of myself. I’ve written every single word. I thought it was important. I tell this story.”
Maybe I Don’t Belong Here: A Memoir of Race, Identity, Breakdown and Recovery is available now.
Listen to David’s full episode of I am. I have. He discusses new beginnings, mental health advocacy, racism and mental health, the need for greater mental health support in the acting community and his enduring passion for performance.
Read David’s full interview in Happiful’s October Issue – out on 16 September
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