Southport is for me a place that has a special meaning. It’s where my brother lives in a managed care facility for people with mental health issues, or to put it bluntly the insane.
Richard is a wonderful person, but he suffers from chronic degenerative schizophrenia. That mean that no mater what happens, no matter how hard he tries, by definition he will only ever get worse.
The drugs that he has had to take have left him with serious problems from side effects. He was at one time nearly a regional chess champion, he even plaid a grand master in, along with several other people, and won.
It’s a rare thing for someone with Richard’s ability with mathematics and chess to enter the world. It’s a horrible curse when he is not only taken from the people he loves, but all the people who’s lives he could have changed.
I often wonder what he might have been if this had not afflicted him. Possibly an engineer of some kind. He was always very fond of building things, models, anything with moving parts, and fascinated by science and mathematics.
These days it’s a good day when he can hold a conversation where he doesn’t apologies for causing a war, or just win a game of chess. The drugs that he has been given have not simply given him terrible facial and body tics that he lives with constantly and marks him out as being different, they also stole his ability to reason and create.
This is the world we live in. Fairness is an illusion that the lucky create to express their gratitude at not being the downtrodden, or the poor, or the starving.
Somewhere in all our lives there is someone like Richard. An old friend who was once a great business man, or a relative who used to hold some special worth. Maybe it’s time to look up their address and send them a note. A simple act of kindness to let them know that you haven’t forgotten they exist.
That you do in fact care…
Blue skies: Richard’s probably happiest these days when he’s at the pub, and who can blame him. If I suffered from the kinds of nightmares that he has lived through I think I might choose that options as well. Not that he’s an alcoholic or anything…
Uncontrollable : This is not Richard posing. It’s what’s known as a full body tick. It means a gesture, usually self soothing, that is constantly repeated without being aware
Guinness: His favorite drink. He would happily drink at least three or four pints in a day…
In the cold: Because of how thin he’s become he always wears way to much. That day was hot as hell, and he was waking around in a jumper.
On edge: One of the things you have to learn to deal with when talking to people who have mental health problems is that they are constantly on edge. That can make it difficult to get a good portrait. I’ve seen so many terrible portraits of people with disabilities that it shocks me. All these shot’s where taken with flash, but none of them are posed.
All 4 the beer: Just felt like putting that one in 🙂
Thoughtful: Richard is actually a very deep guy. Unfortunately a lot of people treat him as though he’s simple rather than mentally ill. If your hiring a photographer to do a portrait of someone you love who has a mental illness or personality disorder, make sure it’s someone who’s not going to treat them like they are stupid, because for one thing it won’t make for a great portrait, and for anther they deserve better….
Alice as always: She’s always there with me. I really do need to get my licence back so I can do some of the driving for a change…
Discussion: With Richard the discussion will inevitably turn to chess. Although he’s not the as sharp as he once was when it comes to the game, he is none the less still passionate. Everyone has a life, inner, friends, interested. These are the things that make a person a persona and it’s those things that a good portrait photographer will be able to bring out.
Mapping: I keep telling her just to use the sat-nav on her phone, but she insists on using a map. It’s one of the little things I love about her…
Smile please: Richard’s sense of humor has not been dulled by his illness however. This is what he did when I asked him why he never smiled these days.l..