I was a young twenty-three year old graduate when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1976. I was told by clinicians that with every psychotic episode I had, I would go further into unreachable madness from which I would never recover.
The diagnosis was a death-sentence. Any thoughts of a future and a career were crushed by this awful mental illness and an equally awful assumption that my life would amount to nothing.
There was no presumption of capacity, no expectation that I would blossom like my friends around me who were getting on with their lives and forging successful careers. I felt irrelavant, and worse, invisible in the world. I describe it as walking in the shadows of others and casting none of my own. I was left with no identity, no sense of self and no hope. They were dark days.