I first met Ron 10 years ago, when we were both hospitalized on a psychiatric ward. It was my first hospitalization for depression, whereas he had schizophrenia and had been hospitalized multiple times before. We connected instantly, despite the strong disapproval of the hospital staff, and formed an intense bond that would last for years.
Responses from employers, when they have discovered that I have schizoaffective disorder, have been wide ranging. This has been from the humiliation of being marched unceremoniously from the premises, by a ridiculous number of panicked little men in ill-fitting suits, or to the wonderful rare occurrence of the university HR department last month, who talked me through my fear of speaking to a lecture hall full of first year students.
At the age of two I was adopted. I was a mixed heritage child, placed with a white family. My early recollections were of brutality. I was born in the mid-50s. My white mother and I were sitting on a train and a man verbally abused my mother because he thought she was married to a black man. Racial tension was blatant. I saw my first black person at the age of 12 because we lived in the quaint streets of suburbia.
I worked as a social worker in a mental health team for 30 years. I loved my job, although it was sometimes challenging because I had pronounced mental health needs of my own. I almost never spoke about my mental health at work because I believed it would be the end of a career I loved and that kept me going. I always did better in teams that were working well together and had good managers.
Sometimes people can misunderstand psychosis. There are so many misconceptions. People who suffer with psychosis are violent, unpredictable and the most debilitating assumption of all, they can never recover.
I would like to challenge these stereotypes by telling my story. I come from a difficult background and have a long history of mental health difficulty. By my late teens I'd been diagnosed with many conditions namely OCD, anxiety, depression and emotionally unstable personality disorder. I'd been given more labels then Tesco's!