More than a Mental Illness

Category: Opinion Pieces Publsihed Online Published: Monday, 29 October 2018 Written by Richard J Bell

More than a Mental Illness


There is more to me than just a mental illness. Sometimes the illness can consume the individal so much they have forgotten what their goals are. It has interrupted my life so much, I was left wondering, who was I before it all happened? With the statistics being one in every five suffers from a mental illness, there are a lot of people out there managing an illness while working full-time.

It was after videotaping a Sting-ray with my underwater camera, when I realised, the mental illness had interfered with my life plans. At the age of sixteen, I had ambitions to be a Marine Biologist and make documentaries. I started a laboratory skills course to work my way up to a diploma to get into university. It was fuelled by my love of science and nature.

This was back when I did not know anything about mental health. I was uneducated on symptoms and therefore did not know I was sick at the time. I had no idea that later on in 2007, I’d be standing in front of university class talking about my own lived experience with Schizophrenia. But Mental Health Education wasn’t what I had originally planned for my life.

At one stage in 2010 I was overwhelmed with my mental illness. I had started a project where I had to make a short film based on a social issue, of stigma attached to mental health. Along with that short film I was also juggling doctor’s appointments, writing poetry, and public speaking in mental health education. It had consumed me so much, that I had to distance myself from mental health to find a balance, between me and the illness.

Then realising I didn’t have the personality to work in the health full-time. I began to think of other careers I wanted that didn’t involve mental health. Before the illness I had three full-time jobs and I believe I am capable working full-time again.

Over the years, I’ve learnt to manage my mental illness with different techniques that have been shown by my mental health team. I am determined to live a normal life, even though I’m treatment resistant.

Separating me from my mental illness is really important. After being focused on this illness so much, I’ve seemed to have forgotten what my interests were. The realisation that the mental illness consumed me, has bought focus on what I want out of life. Mental illness is only one part of the whole. And now I begin planning for the future.


Richard Bell © 5th February 2012


Published on Vibewire Online 2012

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