Katie grew up in Devon and carried the same close group of friends with her from school through to adulthood. They were always together, laughing and enjoying themselves.
Then, after she fled an abusive relationship in her early twenties, Katie started to get unwell - she felt paranoid and anxious all the time. "Suddenly a lot my friends just dropped me - just like that," she explains. "It was horrible. They were my life."
But there are friends who have stuck by Katie. "My best friend, she's always calling me, sending me little notes. She's great."
Robert has had Bipolar Disorder since he was nineteen. His family desperately tried to help - but shame and embarrassment about mental illness always made talking difficult. He had depression for over a decade. And despairing of a normal existence, he nearly ended his life.
I'm a graduate of 52 and my career was ended fifteen years ago when I suffered an acute psychotic episode. I was hospitalised for six months, had six treatments of Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) and found starting all over again one of the hardest things I have ever been faced with. It was like doing a jig-saw puzzle with no picture to follow and some of the pieces missing. The greatest obstacle to my recovery was my severe loss of confidence. Working to retrieve my confidence was a challenge but I got there in time.
At the recent Social Inclusion Network meeting, Constable Jim Scotson, the Hate Crime Officer for Merseyside Police based St. Helens, described the work of the Hate Crimes Unit, which is locally known as the Ã¢â‚¬ËœSigma' unit. <--break->The title of Sigma was carefully chosen. Sigma is a letter from the Greek alphabet and symbolises the work of the unit in recognizing and protecting all vulnerable members of our society whilst seeking to continuously improve the service the police provide to victims.
If you asked me to tell you what I got for Christmas last year; I wouldn't have a clue. Having said that; I can remember the day I was first sectioned fairly clearly, and that was nearly 20 years ago. I was naked; talking to a light bulb; believing that I would be beamed up too heaven at any moment. My father, my sister, my sister's husband and his friend all witnessed this breakdown. I was told later that I had been acting weird for weeks. I had lost a lot of weight very rapidly; I was not sleeping, and I would continually go missing.