In 1968 at the age of 18 I agreed to hospital admission. And so begun my five-year nightmare of drugs, electric shock treatment and abuse that turned me into a zombie. Years later I read my case notes and found that my diagnosis had not been depression as I had thought, but schizophrenia.
Starting from when I first saw a psychiatrist, my past was rewritten to fit a 'mental illness' label. No longer a 'normal' teenager but a 'case'. My thoughts and experiences were devalued, their content seen as nothing but 'symptoms'.
Some people find medication, and an understanding of their problems in terms of a diagnosis, helpful. But I, and many others, have learned to our cost how limiting and damaging a rigid application of the medical model can be. It almost destroyed me.
Fortunately I managed to turn my life around. Once off medication (against medical advice), the debilitating drowsiness and other distressing side-effects lifted completely (and never returned). I was at last able to leave home, get a job, and build up a life for myself. Keen to make up for my lost years, I returned to study and obtained a first-class degree in psychology and literature at Leeds Metropolitan University. In 1979 I found love with Ian who I later married. We're still very happy together.
I now work part-time for a mental health charity and I have resumed my childhood love of writing. My first book 'The Dark Threads' raises disturbing questions on the treatment of psychiatric patients, which are still relevant today.