Not genes, but circumstances

Judith Haire

I was 37 when I experienced an acute psychotic episode. I was hospitalised for six months and endured six barbaric 'treatments' of electro convulsive therapy (ECT).

I had grown up in a dysfunctional family and gone on to marry an abusive man who raped me and hit me. I link my upbringing and the trauma it entailed to my becoming psychotic. It was not my genes, I am not mad or bad.

I wrote it all down in my book Don't Mind Me (Chipmunkapublishing). I have not been given a diagnosis of schizophrenia but I'd like the label removed as it's stigmatising, meaningless and unhelpful.

I came off medication with medical supervision and have been largely medication free for 12 years now. As a reminder of the medication, I've had to have two operations to remove cataracts which my ophthalmologist told me had been caused by Chlorpromazine.

I am well and live a full and happy life. I don't actually consider that I had a 'mental illness', more a stress related burn out.