Graham tells us about his working and personal life and how he thrives while living with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.
“Hello, let me introduce myself. I am 56; I have a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia or so I am told. My heart doesn’t accept this but my brain understands that the compulsory treatment I have had for the last ten years probably keeps me alive. Some of my life has been awful; the break-up of my marriage, the fact that I haven’t seen my son for many years; those times in hospital, wanting to die; to rip myself to pieces. But despite this; much of my life has been wonderful. I am privileged to have worked for most of my life and currently work for the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland; it is brilliant travelling round Scotland; meeting people with so many views and experiences.
The fact that I work part time is wonderful, it allowed me to finish my memoir START: a love story; a plea for forgiveness and a reflection on the natural world and loneliness. It also means that I can spend time with my partner, her young twins and Dash the dog, I love taking him for walks along the seashore listening to the curlews and oyster catchers.
There are so many assumptions about people like me; once I was told people like me should not be allowed to live! But I have an MBE for services to mental health and helped with the creation of the current mental health act and have spoken at the United Nations. In the past I set up many advocacy groups and helped challenge stigma. At one time I managed 7 staff at HUG (action for mental health) and People First Highland. In my twenties I spent time sailing the Atlantic and over coral reefs in the Far East. I have skied and walked in the hills, I have camped in the desert with my wife, two soldiers and two camels for company. I have walked in rain forests and I have been blessed with many amazing friends. I am incredibly lucky. Many people are less fortunate than me which makes me very sad. That needs to change.”