What is it like to go mad? Not so much developing depression or having a panic attack — which is wearyingly familiar to many of us — but to go properly mad, the sort of madness that involves delusions and police officers and locked psychiatric wards? Horatio Clare didn’t have to imagine what that was like for his book Heavy Light. It’s a memoir, subtitled ‘A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing’, and is an unsparing tale not just of what it was like for him to succumb to a psychotic episode but also of what it did to his family.
The book starts with a skiing holiday in Italy with his partner Rebecca and the children. Already cracks are showing in Clare’s sanity: he is overworked, has been drinking heavily and smoking too much weed, and his family and friends are worried.