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The Stigma of Mental Illness / Z. from the United Kingdom reports:

It was nearly 4 years ago when my world was turned upside-down by mental illness. It was later confirmed that I had suffered a paranoid psychosis—an illness under the umbrella of schizophrenia.
I suffered delusions of persecution and grandeur which became increasingly bizarre as the days progressed. I heard voices, attempted suicide and did not trust anyone—including the police and doctors as I believed they were all involved in a conspiracy against me. I thought my family had been murdered.
Uncomfortable reading.
     After 2 weeks of living my worst fears I was sectioned and received treatment which I responded well to. Within a week it was agreed that I was OK to go home. It was then that the fight back began. I was still heavily paranoid and extremely depressed—I found it impossible to get out of bed in the mornings and felt that life was not worth living—but I had determination, and with the support of my friends and family I slowly recovered from such a horrific illness.
     And that’s what it is—an illness which many people do recover from. Why then is there so much stigma? Many people falsely believe that all sufferers of schizophrenia are dangerous. Maybe to themselves perhaps—but in reality there is only a small minority who are dangerous. Others believe that schizophrenics never recover from their illness—that they remain deluded for the rest of their life. How untrue. The recovery rates are getting better all the time. The numbers of schizophrenics suffering the illness as a chronic disorder are getting fewer all the time as new drugs work wonders and help balance the chemicals in the brain.
The myth of a bad family upbringing needs to be dispersed too. I had great family relationships, was successful and happy as a child and young person and had everything going for me. An illness such as schizophrenia—like any illness—can affect anyone—regardless of family background.
     A year on—one friend of the family asked my Mum ‘How’s your funny daughter?’
     This is why I am speaking out. My success story needs to be told to help other sufferers realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel, to prove to non-sufferers that I was only ill and like many others before me—have recovered.
     When someone mentions they have a mental illness don’t veer away from us. Find out what it was like if we are open enough to talk about it. Respect us for coping with such a difficult and life changing experience. Learn from us.
     4 years on I am back to my old self—but with renewed wisdom and empathy for others. I work full time in marketing, own my own house, have a hectic social life and live every day to the full for you never know what’s around the corner. For all of us.

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