Sandy Jeffs remembers her diagnosis of schizophrenia in 1976 as "an absolute death sentence".
"I thought, 'Where do I go from here?' It seemed there was no future, no hope. You were on the scrapheap."
When someone says schizophrenia what do you think?
Sadly, many people have little or no idea about what it's actually like living with schizophrenia. Instead their preconceptions about this illness come from movies and the media which, more often than not, can be inaccurate and sensationalised.
I think I should feel fortunate when it comes to hearing voices. While I have the ever-curdling mixture of psychosis in the background of my thoughts, the voices I hear are still my own.
It is still my own internal dialogue. It's just that most of the time, it's not there to help me.
There was a girl. Her brain was set alight with the burn of silent agony but a smile was seared on her lips.
She was drowning, lost in a sea of confusion and distress. The waves of emotion washed her closer and closer to the shore of death, but she fought. Every day her mind and body grew weaker, her defences bruised and battered.
But she fought.
Supporting someone living with a mental illness can be a stressful experience. And it certainly doesn't come with an instruction manual.
For some carers, supporting someone means endless internal dialogue about the health and wellbeing of their loved one. Did they take their medication? Are they out of bed? Have they eaten? Showered? Where are they right now?
Functional neurological disorder – formerly called conversion disorder – is more common than multiple sclerosis yet remains a little-known condition in both the medical community and the general population.
Many people living with mental illness use medication to help manage their symptoms. While it can help, medication can also cause side effects.
Trial and error, hot flushes, dry mouth and weight gain are real hurdles people face. But, depending on the illness, benefits include reduced anxiety, clarity of thought, reduced hallucinations, stability and relief.
So how do people balance the pros and the cons?