Trapped in a horror Film
Schizoaffective disorder can affect people in different ways but it shares very similar symptoms with schizophrenia/mood disorders. People living with the condition can experience periods of mania and/or depression, and often will hear voices or have delusional thoughts.

Below is the script that Julia sent us - written and created
to illustrate the experience of psychosis.

We have typeset this page so that it emulates the racing nature of her thoughts.

An AI version of this script is available as a film here.

TW://self-harm, suicidal thoughts.
You wake up covered in sweat. People have tapped your laptop. They’re listening in on your phone calls too. Someone is reading all your text messages before they allow them to go through. You need to find another phone so you can dial 999 and get someone to help you.

You try to type on your laptop but they’re controlling the words you put onto the screen. They’re controlling your thoughts too. Maybe they’ve put a GPS tracker in your fillings and they’re following your every move. Your phone camera must be watching you. Is this some kind of reality show?

Your friends have been infiltrated but you reach out to some of them anyway asking for help, please help, you’re desperate and nonsensical. You message people you used to know five years ago, ten years ago. The replies start to trickle in, but you don’t trust them so you ignore their messages. They’ve all been infiltrated by the enemy.

And who, you may ask, are the enemy? The police are after you. Or maybe it’s Extinction Rebellion. Or maybe you’re being inducted into a cult. Perhaps you’re on an episode of Derren Brown, after all, your mind is

playing tricks on you.

The important thing is, someone is after you, you can sort out the details of who later.

Maybe it has something to do with Brexit, you think abruptly. But what?

You pack a bag of all the worldly possessions that will fit in one suitcase. You dial the emergency services but think better of it, and end the call. You won’t get through to the real police. Just people pretending to be police. No one can help you.

You pack three packs of paracetamol. They seem to be calling out to you somehow. Are you meant to take them all? Are you meant to die? You listen to the signs embedded in the world around you but they don’t seem to be telling you anything so you pack the paracetamol, it might come in handy later.

You stare into the mirror for a long time and then you realise you need to cut off your hair. You chop it off closely using kitchen scissors. You’re in a story and this is the next thing you’re meant to do.

Then you put your hair in your bag for safekeeping. You need to find someone to analyse it, it needs to be drug tested. You’ve definitely been drugged. Maybe through your contact lens fluid. Someone must have intercepted them and added something.

As you leave through the back door you notice a pack of matches and you realise the box is significant in some way. You wonder if you’ve finally cracked it. They’re going to burn you alive. You shiver and lock the door behind you. You light a cigarette and briefly wonder if you’re meant to press the cherry against the skin on your hand, but you think better of it and start walking.

As you’re striding along, you notice there are some plants on the side of the road. You pat them gently with encouragement. Good plants. They’re not part of the conspiracy at least.

You notice some rubbish on the floor. It must have been placed there to make you feel guilty. You pick up the rubbish like a magpie hoarding shiny trinkets and shove it in your bag for safekeeping. You’ll find a bin for it later.

You’re walking through the streets and a bus arrives. “Seems a bit convenient," you say to the other passengers and they laugh, not really understanding what you’re saying, which is that the bus is suspicious. It’s part of the conspiracy. So instead of getting the bus you must walk. You need to use your own two feet to get where you want to go. You walk past the bus stop and decide to get to the nearest town by foot. You’re suspicious of the bus and the driver. In fact, one of the passengers looks like someone you used to know years ago. Maybe they’re part of the plot and they’ve come back to ruin your life. You consider asking someone to use their phone, but they’re all spies for the conspiracy so there wouldn’t be any point.

You notice a bike lock by the bus stop and realise they must know the password to your computer and that they’ve been tracking your every move for some time. Maybe you’re not even in the real world and you’re a research experiment inside a dome. If you walk far enough you might reach the end of the set. Perhaps the Masons have something to do with this?

You walk past some graffiti of a person winking and you feel sure that people are making fun of you. It’s a sign and you have found a way to decode it, so you can understand the meaning. Lately, you’ve noticed that Netflix is speaking to you. Spotify is sending you messages which only you can decode. You change the song on your headphones and listen to the lyrics to try and find instructions for what to do next. You notice a fallen leaf and try to work out what it would mean, what message does the leaf carry? Does it tell you what you should do next?

You check your phone and think that one of the people texting you feels like the universe speaking to you. You type a reply but can’t bring yourself to send it. You have eight missed calls all from different numbers. You feel connected to everyone in the world somehow. You feel a warm rush of love for the universe and everyone in it.

You notice a left arrow on the road signs. And turn left. The universe is telling you where to go, you think.

You see a disposable coffee cup in someone’s hand and feel immeasurable guilt for all the times you have used a disposable cup. It seems like it’s mocking you. The letters on the cup read Costa but it feels for a second like they read “criminal”.

You pass a cash machine and withdraw as much money as you can. You hide it in your bra. You might need it later for something. You’re not sure what, but you’re certain it will come in handy. Maybe your parents are against you and they’ll leave you to fend for yourself without anywhere to live. That must be it. At least you’ll have enough cash to get you somewhere to sleep. Maybe they won’t accept your money and you’re doomed to wander the earth.

You’re walking in the centre of the road with your suitcase, occasionally scuttling into the grass to move out of the way of tractors or lorries. It’s extremely dangerous but you are unaware of the danger. You reach into your bag and get out your sunglasses. You walk across the road without looking. “You’re going to have to murder me.” You say to someone in the passenger seat of a car holding a phone. You know in your heart that they are filming you. This is all part of some sick gameshow.

People stop to offer you lifts but you won’t accept any because they’re all part of the conspiracy. A van driver with a little white fluffy dog. A middle-aged man in his red Fiat 500. They beg you to get into the cars and stop walking in the road. “Please get in the car.” one of them pleads and you start to run away from him and his car, which he’s stopped in the middle of the road. You ignore them all. They’re all part of the conspiracy. You must escape.

Suddenly a police car starts following you and you stop to talk to them. His ID is so old and worn that you don’t believe that it’s real. You move on but they keep following you as you walk. Soon a care worker is following you too in her car, trying to convince you to get in. “You’re not real”, you tell them and keep walking. They’re not real. They’re part of some giant conspiracy to ruin your life. Maybe they’re actors, or even a group of serial killers and you will be their next victim.

Then you realise what’s going on. It all suddenly makes sense. You’re in a game show. And a low-budget one at that. All the actors are terrible. Their body language is clunky and wrong for the scene. You can tell all this because you’re gifted. But at what? You’ll work that out later, but for now, it’s time to get the hell out of here. You feel like 007, decoding secret messages in the world around you from a mystery source. You keep your eyes peeled for the next sign to decode. It will tell you what to do.

You must be special in some way. What kind of person would merit this much attention? Your mind jumps from solution to solution as the story adapts and changes. Maybe you’re a savant or even a psychopath. You try your best to be kind, but maybe it’s not enough. Maybe you’re a monster. You start to cry. You must be a criminal of some kind. That’s the only way this all makes sense.

Then you notice that the leaves on the grass have been arranged rather than fallen. A normal eye couldn’t spot it, but you’re exceptional in some way. You’ve figured out the system and you’re going to escape the dome. It’s like The Matrix and The Truman Show rolled into one. And you’ve managed to figure it out. You feel a burst of euphoric energy. Maybe you’re a famous figure from history like Cleopatra.

Everything is just a film set, you realise. They’ve rebuilt it all - who would go to that much effort? But it’s slightly smaller than the real world. They must have drugged you and put you on a flight somewhere. The sun is pounding down and the grass has burnt in the heat. They must have waited until you were asleep and taken you to another country, somewhere hot.

They kidnap you before you reach the nearest town. “You’re not real,” you tell them and then scream for someone, anyone to call the real police. Although they tell you you’re being sectioned, you know the truth: they’re imposters and they’re kidnapping you. You must do everything you can to escape. But who from? You’re not sure yet who they are. Maybe they’re part of a cult. This is just like a horror film.

How will you escape?

You feel certain that you know one of them although they show no signs of knowing you. Maybe they’re related to your family somehow and are in on the conspiracy. Or maybe you went to uni with them. It’s hard to say exactly. Their faces seem familiar.

The people dressed as police are talking. Their body language is all wrong for the conversation. You can instantly tell that they think you’re a monster. You run through your lifetime of memories trying to pinpoint what you’ve done to be kidnapped. Did you cause this in some way? How can you fix it?

After what seems like forever the car pulls up outside a hospital.

“Am I on a TV show?” you ask when you meet the ‘doctor’ on the ‘ward’.


Why do you say that?” he asks, and you take it as confirmation.

There are people milling around and you overhear one of them say that angels are talking to them. You assume this is part of the television show. They’re trying to trick you.

You ask the person who shows you to your room if you can have a hug but they tell you that they’re not allowed to hug you. You’ll probably be here for the rest of your life. Trapped. And never get a hug again. You try to think of the last time someone hugged you. You feel like crying but you find yourself laughing. You briefly wonder if you’ve got a terminal disease. The thought pops into your mind out of nowhere.

You examine everything in your room for significance, right down to the sanitary pad bags in the bathroom. You feel like this must be an escape-the-room or a video game and if you can just work out the puzzle you will be free. Everything has been put here for a reason and if you can decode it, you can get away.

And then, not long after you’re shown to your room, which looks a bit like a budget hotel room, you finally get into your pyjamas, take out your contact lenses and you shut your eyes. It’s been days since you’ve slept. Maybe weeks. Time seems to be moving at a different pace. Maybe you have special powers and can travel through time.

You notice a bible in the bottom drawer of your bedside table and you read the first chapter and feel like you must be being punished for a sin of some sort. You find yourself crying inconsolably.

Is that a camera up there on the ceiling? Every hour or so someone shines a torch through your door. This must be some sort of cruel sick punishment. Sleep deprivation is considered torture but they’re keeping you awake on purpose. You text someone saying that you need a human rights lawyer. You’re being held against your will. When they reply you get the strange sense that the whole of society is texting you back. You turn away from the door and put the blanket over your head. It’s so bright in here. That light on the ceiling by the smoke alarm must be a torture device designed to keep you awake.

You’re reminded briefly of the ever-present cameras of 1984.

You realise they are probably going to maim you in some way. Perhaps they will amputate your legs or blind you. Whatever is happening, it can’t be good. Your mind keeps playing tricks on you, but there’s not much you can do about it.

Perhaps things will look brighter in the morning...

















Finally, you fall


Getting support
If you are concerned that you or a loved one might be experiencing psychosis, these resources can help.
  • Psychosis
    Psychosis is a term used to describe when people lose some contact with reality. Common symptoms of psychosis are hearing voices or having strong beliefs that are not shared by people within your community.

    Find out more

  • Hearing Voices
    If you hear voices, this means you hear something that other people cannot. Mental health professionals often call hearing voices ‘auditory hallucinations’. A hallucination is something you see, taste, smell or hear, that others cannot.

    Find out more

  • Self Harm
    Self-harm is harming yourself on purpose, such as by scratching, cutting, overdosing on medication, biting or burning yourself. You may self-harm because you find it difficult to cope with your moods or how you feel.

    Find out more

Looking for crisis support?
Please visit our crisis support help page.

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