P.E.I. man's poetry book created while living with schizophrenia

Christopher Robin MacLeod wants to raise awareness and help others


Published on March 20, 2017

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Christopher Robin MacLeod was first diagnosed with schizophrenia about 15 years ago.

After a gruelling path to recovery, the 38-year-old Charlottetown resident has now been mentally stable for about seven years and is hoping his own experience can help others coping with mental illness.

MacLeod has released a poetry book entitled “Diving Through Divinity: 100 Acre Woods,” a play on himself being named after the Walt Disney character.

The writings span about 10 years from 2002 to 2012 and begin just before he was hospitalized for schizophrenia while studying at UPEI.

“Prior to my hospitalization I had started writing on my own accord. When I fell ill, I came more and more into writing and the process going on at the time and my perception, views, thoughts and analysis of the world around me at the time,” said MacLeod, noting that he was diagnosed with having a propensity of audio and visual hallucinations.

Prior to my hospitalization I had started writing on my own accord. When I fell ill, I came more and more into writing and the process going on at the time and my perception, views, thoughts and analysis of the world around me at the time. Christopher Robin MacLeod

Each chapter of the chronological book is a snippet of MacLeod at the time, documenting the highs and lows of his journey while also dealing with a messiah complex and the “voices” he would converse with in his head.

Writing was a way to document the “visceral vortex” MacLeod found himself in.

“Some of it is a darker motif, metaphors at the time of, for lack of better words, demons, angels existential and supernatural,” said MacLeod. “It basically depicts my thought process during the time and where my head was at. It was kind of like that quest to find out what was going on in my life.”

While compiling the book, MacLeod said it was also surreal going back to those early writings, noting that when he began writing it was more for self-therapy with no intention of ever releasing it to the public.

However, he noted the past few years have seen a lot of efforts towards de-stigmatizing mental illness.

That changing atmosphere provided MacLeod with some inspiration to share his poetry. That feeling was bolstered after he attended a mental health conference in St. Louis in 2013.

He realized that what he thought were his own individual struggles shared a lot in common with others living with schizophrenia.

“There were people from all over the world at this conference, and it was eye-opening to hear their own accounts and see that someone in California could experience the same symptoms as someone in Cape Breton,” said MacLeod, noting that others with mental illness have seen common ground in his book.

“It was uncanny as to how universal some of the themes I put in the book are .… I hope that’s what transpires (is) just kind of this understanding that there is a commonality between these things of what people are going through with the whole advent of the Let’s Talk movement. I think this collection might give a little insight to what people are thinking

MacLeod said he hopes the book also helps those going through a similar path he has travelled.

He said that after nearly a decade, from his worst moments of despair, he can look back and smile about how his life as evolved to now.

“That’s kind of my saving grace, I have a great sense of humour about myself and the whole ordeal,” said MacLeod.

“I do hope it has a positive impact just the sense that people without mental illness may have a better understanding of what people are going through they may not be able to express.