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Sanya Rushdi: a note on Hospital

Melbourne-based author Sanya Rushdi reflects on her debut novel, Hospital, a daring literary account of a young woman’s experience of psychosis. The book was released in June 2023.

It was early spring in the year 2009. My PhD candidature in psychology at Deakin University had been confirmed, and I had just received Ethics Approval to begin my research. I went to my office as usual, but soon afterwards, started to suspect the everyday things that were happening around me. I had a strange feeling of fear, restlessness and suspicion that drove me out of my office. That feeling, combined with some strange activities that I have discussed elsewhere in an essay written in Bengali, led to the diagnosis of my first episode of psychosis. More crippling than the psychosis itself though, was the many years of post-psychotic depression that followed, within which period, I had another psychotic episode in 2010. My clinical or post-psychotic depression manifested as a lack of enthusiasm, and an inability to do anything much at all, especially tasks that needed focus and concentration. In 2015, I had my third psychotic episode and received the diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, by then, the depression was easing a little, and the psychotic episode itself was experienced very differently than the first two episodes. For example, I did not feel as restless or afraid and I felt that I could undertake little bits of writing. Later, when I recovered, I was eager to express my experiences of psychoses and to discuss how the experience in 2015 was different from those of the earlier episodes. Since I was once a passionate student of psychology, I wanted to explore some of the psychological aspects of psychosis or schizophrenia. I especially wanted to touch on the role of language and interaction, as reflected in my novel Hospital.

— Sanya Rushdi

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