I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 18 after years of struggling with severe depression, anxiety, and at the time undiagnosed PTSD.
After I was diagnosed, like many people with severe and complex mental illness, I put my faith into medical professionals and what they thought was best for me. Some told me I would never get better, some pumped me full of antipsychotics until I couldn’t walk or stay awake. Some told me it was my fault that I wasn’t getting better. But I did what they said. I believed everything they were telling me. “It must be my fault” I thought…
I have also had good experiences with psychiatrists who have helped me in so many ways and believed I could get better when nobody else did, including myself. My current psychiatrist is brilliant and really cares about my wellbeing and includes me in decisions regarding my treatment. What helped me most was them holding the hope for my recovery until I could grasp it myself.
However, the best thing for my recovery wasn’t the medication and psychiatry (although it definitely played a role). The best thing for me was realising that I was capable of doing things other than being a patient, and that came from getting involved in mental health advocacy and the lived/living experience movement. I realised that my story is powerful and I can use it to help people.
I first got involved with headspace (Australia’s national youth mental health organisation) as a volunteer. I was then selected to be part of their national youth reference group. That’s when I got involved in advocacy at a national level and my life changed forever.
I have since gone on to share my story publicly many times, and I have also become a Peer Worker which is incredibly rewarding. I have also recently founded a nonprofit organisation called ‘Peers With Psychosis Australia’ with the aim of empowering people with psychosis to get involved in mental health advocacy, activism, and community.
Without finding my passion in life, there is no way I would be where I am now in my recovery and professional life. In order to find that passion I needed support from others, and I got that from the advocacy community. I have met many amazing advocates over the years and they showed me that I could do it too. I stand on the shoulders of giants.
The medical model has definitely played a role in my recovery, but I think that if that was the only support I was given, I would merely be existing. With the support of my peers I am thriving. I’m still on my recovery journey, and I think for me that’s a lifelong process, but I have realised that I don’t have to be completely free of symptoms to live a meaningful life.
People with schizophrenia need wrap-around, holistic support and treatment. We need help so we can help ourselves. I’ve found my passion and purpose in life after years of feeling like I had nothing to look forward to and nothing to live for. I want to give people like me that same opportunity.
#Schizophrenia #MentalHealth #treatment #Recovery #Peersupport