I’m Charlie Brown.

I was born in Lambeth Hospital in 1966. I grew up in a large house with a big family. As a boy I was socialable and athletic. Aged nine my family divided and my mother, brother and I moved to a small flat. A thoughtful dreamer, exams weren’t my forte, so I left school at 17 unsure what to do.

Around this time, hanging out with friends and plugged into my Walkman, I experienced paranoia for the first time. I dabbled in different jobs and aged nineteen began training as an optical technician.

When I first stated hearing voices I didn’t tell a soul. When I finally shared my concerns I was prescribed medication. I overdosed and found myself in a psychiatric hospital. Life was never the same.

I worked in various opticians until 1994 with short periods of work following, but life became a haze of drop in centres and hospitals. In 2005 I had a serious breakdown and ended up in various hospitals for two years.

It was at this time I started writing poetry. Dark and troubled months ensued, but I came out of the other side.

I have been a volunteer at Blackfriars Settlement for 17 years, and I was part of a poetry group at CoolTan Arts between 2009 and 2017.

I use words to express my past and present experiences, what it feels like to live with paranoia and how I’ve learned to thrive in life.