So, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia about four years ago, and prior to that I had been symptomatic but untreated for six years. My symptoms first began nearly ten years ago today. It’s extremely difficult to explain to anyone what happens to your mind when Schizophrenia begins; ways I’d like to describe it is “your mind is broken,” “you’re very out of it,” “you feel like mentally you’ve just been hit by a truck,” or “if your mind is a pencil, the lead tip just broke.” I felt constantly like a nuclear bomb had just exploded in my head. I was unable to work for five years during which time I relied on the support of a girlfriend to help me survive, and despite this was still often homeless. I realized later, once I was in treatment and back to work, that there were plenty of community resources available, but when you first develop Schizophrenia, particularly if you have no known family history, you have absolutely no clue what’s wrong, if it’s just in your head, if you’re just going through a weird phase. You also don’t know which community resources to use because you’ve never been disabled before. I tried going it alone for five years, and it nearly broke me. With the help of a supportive doctor (and it’s not always a guarantee you’ll get one in our mental health system), I was able to apply for PWD, get treatment, stabilize my life, and start over. It’s been four years since I started taking medication and I’ve actually progressed really far professionally in that time. I make good money, work for the “best” organizations in town, hold down three jobs, have lots of friends, but none of this would have been possible five years ago. Society is designed by and for people who have a “normal” range of abilities, so when you suddenly develop a mental disorder it’s nearly impossible to follow the traditional routes to providing for yourself. Anyway, thanks for listening.