I have been a mental health consumer since I was 15. Growing up I had numerous psychotic episodes. The first of which was at a school camp on my 15th birthday where I dehydrated and almost lost my life. Over the next 3 months I had numerous episodes, that had a long lasting effect on my life, including a complication that saw me in hospital close to death.
I was extremely lucky during these years that I had a supportive family who could afford the help I needed. Although the first visit to a psychiatrist told my parents they were worrying about nothing, I received numerous diagnosis during my schooling years including alcohol poisoning, viral meningitis, depression and anxiety, before finally being diagnosed as a schizophrenia. I was put into the care of a wonderful psychologist and psychiatrist who monitored my mental health condition during school, and while I was on a high dose of sedatives during school, I managed to get into university.
With an episode in my first week of year 11 and my first week of year 12, it was no coincidence that I got another episode in my first year of university. As the residue of my huge trip to New Zealand, I was hospitalised after being brought into the hospital by the police. I spent 3 fearful days in the hospital at Cumberland Hospital. I remained quite unwell during my time down in Canberra abut was institutionalised for another week towards the middle of he 2nd semester out at Orange. I was hopsitalised a 3rd and final time at the end of that year where I spent 2 months in hospital.
This was a life changing experience as I felt the intensity of the ward at my 6 week stint at Piala. Here I spent two weeks in the high intensity unit where I was carefully monitored. I was extremely afraid in this scenario and had numerous panic attacks when friends came to visit me. I didn't want them to see my like in that state! Despite having daily visits from my family and friends, I felt extremely isolated hear and was afraid of many people, and even the staff, in the ward. It was only when I was allowed to practice my piano that I was able to reconnect with my body. Within a few weeks after this intense period in the intensive ward, I was no longer psychotic and could enter a private hospital. Within 2 weeks at Northwest I was released back into the community, where was then placed in the 'youth program' at Brumby House and eventually transitioned into a house in Parramatta where I completed my first year at University.
In the last few years I have decided to 'celebrate' my lived experience rather than let it control me. After attending a consumer representative course down in Canberra, I have participated in a number of events that have provided me with great purpose. On the CBOA and personally I have done numerous courses on mental health, I helped design a navigation tool www.mentalhealthhelp.com, I have attended numerous forums, activities and events related to the lived experience of mental health and have joined numerous committees. A highlight was working with severe and persistent mental health with Partners in Recovery as a Support Facilitator for 8 months. I have collected an amazing library of resources, continue to work in the community as a consumer representative and keep occupied by many mental health related programs such as the Global Now Project, a global situational analysis that keeps on evolving. This website is a testament to my involvement in the mental health sector and my goal to work towards reducing mental health burden on people throughout the world.
While I have remained relatively stable for over 10 years, mental health continues to define me in many ways. While it doesn't 'feel' like I have a mental illness, I know that it affects myself and the people around me. I do not have the respect that I wish I have at this stage because of my 'narcistic' behaviours, often appear as inappropriate, arrogant and at time disturbing. While I am 'high-functioning,' I know that my mental health still plays a big part in how I interact and engage with the world. People often can't point a finger on it, but I know what it is.
I feel that it is a important to be an active member of the community and maintain my wellbeing by keeping my days occupied. I hope that I continue to evolve my knowledge in mental health and hope that I can use my experiences to influence and inspire people throughout the world.