My name is Julie. I'm a mum of a beautiful daughter and have been working in the mental health field for 21 years. Oh, and by the way, I've had obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) since I was five years old.
'Schizophrenia, you have schizophrenia. Shit, schizophrenia, this sounds serious but what is it?'
At 23 I was still naive, and even though I had been a university student I had not encountered schizophrenia in friends or relatives. I sat bewildered in the psychiatrist's office, perplexed not only by my inner psychotic confusion but wondering what was to become of me.
After our first son was born, I gradually lost all connection with reality. There was no history of mental illness in our family. This came completely out of the blue and hit our family like a tropical cyclone.
My most recent episode started in January this year, I almost didn't notice it at first.
I started finding it harder to get out of bed, even after 14 hours' sleep, and felt anxious in social situations, meetings, anything that involved speaking up. It was the little things you're not quite conscious of.
Then, the little things started growing into more than little things.
Depression is not feeling down for an hour out of your day. It's not something to be glorified. It's not beautiful.
Depression is being on the brink of tears because you dropped your glass of water. It’s not having the urge to clean up the mess, rather you fall on the floor and cry.
It’s been nearly three years since I lost my mind.
I had told people in the past that I’d lost my mind, but I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Since becoming a mental health advocate I’ve received a lot of uplifting messages. A very popular message I’ve received is that people are keeping me in their prayers, or they will pray for me.
Although I don’t believe in most of these people’s God, I appreciate it. I used to go to church, but I’ve found another religion that better suits my beliefs. Still, there is comfort in knowing people wish me well, and are praying for me. That’s kind.
There is a thin line with this though…