Time to Change has hit the nail on the head for me. Sitting alone in my flat, I realised that I don’t often discuss how I am feeling or what is going on in my head because it is a question that is seldom nor genuinely asked of me! I am rarely asked how I am feeling at all, let alone twice, and so I can appreciate the intent of an “Ask Twice” mentality, especially at a time where we are fighting for a global understanding of mental illness.
What it took for me to recover from schizophrenia was having people who believed in me and who did not give up on me. Their belief and love for me encouraged me to believe in myself, so I could have the patience to heal slowly over several years, with the help of steady, continued medical treatment. Their love and confidence in me gave me a reason and the strength to try and endure the emotional pain and social stigma of having schizophrenia.
Despite publishing a hundred books at the age of 19, I have been struggling with depression and Asperger’s Syndrome for a very long time. It wasn’t until last year that I decided to speak up about my struggles with mental health. Prior to that, I talked about my issues with mental health in many of the books that I’ve written over the years, but I never addressed it publicly.
My time at uni might have been improved if someone had told me that it's ok not to 'fit in' and not to enjoy it. In fact, I'd say over half the people I've spoken to have said they didn't enjoy uni, so I don't know where we got this idea that it's meant to be "the time of your life" where you make your friends for life and get up to lots of antics and partying.
I want to be clear about something before you get the wrong idea – I am not and have never been the shy and retiring type. I’m a confident soul and I’m naturally inclined to want to lead others and make decisions. This makes me sound like I’m one of those very upfront ‘what you see is what you get’ people but unfortunately, I am not that type of person either. People generally expect me to be my confident, direct and driven self all the time so when I’m not able to be, it causes problems.