So here I am, at a psychiatric hospital, looking for myself in a building I’ve never been in before. A few nights ago, I was ready to rid myself of myself. I still am, only, in a different way. This time, I want to do away with what I hope will soon be my former self. There is a promise written on the hospital’s walls: ‘You are the captain of your soul’. I don’t know what is wrong with me, I never have. All I know is that my head is clouded with loud voices screaming in different frequencies; none of them making sense. With only a stony face to hide it all behind, and a pained smile to offer my friends and colleagues.
Patient 12A is Lesedi Molefi’s absorbing memoir, reflecting on his time spent in a psychiatric clinic in 2016. With vulnerability and candour, Lesedi reflects on the moments, large and small, that led him here. It is at once a personal history, an observation of how childhood experiences can have a profound effect on the adults we become, and a commentary on how mental illness remains a difficult conversation in black families. More than anything, Patient 12A is Lesedi’s attempt to filter out the noise in his head to find the truth, however uncomfortable that may be.