She has always been constantly shocked by the many myths and misconceptions people have about Schizophrenia.
Although Alice recalls struggling with depression from the age of 16, she had never imagined that she could ever be having Schizophrenia. To her, it somehow feels like the Schizophrenia was simply an escalation of depression.
The first time she experienced Schizophrenia-related psychosis was when she was 19 years old. She began hearing voices, seeing things and losing concentration. These symptoms made her so depressed that she had thoughts of ending her own life. It was not until she was 30 years old that her diagnosis of Schizophrenia was confirmed. It was just when she had moved to London for art school and had gone to see a psychiatrist.
Needless to say, it was not easy being diagnosed so far from home, when she was away from her support system. But Alice is very thankful for hers, and she is insistent that they play a major role in her recovery. She remembers an incident when her mother had to travel all the way to the USA to pick her up after she had a psychotic incident.
It is not just her mother who is supportive. She also has friends that support and accept her without reservation, something that is rare in this era where stigma is still rife. Alice has also experienced this stigma first hand, some are avoiding her like the plague. As with most Schizophrenia patients, this rejection led to feelings of isolation and helplessness.
In addition to the stigma, Alice has always been constantly shocked by the many myths and misconceptions people have about Schizophrenia, the most popular one being that people with this condition are violent. She is always surprised at this perception, given she has never been violent, even when in the throes of psychosis.
On the flip side, she has constantly been scared of other people during such times. She is also amazed at the number of people who still believe that patients of Schizophrenia are either geniuses or have a low IQ, something that is propagated by films, she assumes.
However, all is not lost for this brave girl. She has her art, family, and friends and that makes her happy. She is currently pursuing her PhD in film making and runs a photography business alongside her visual artwork. Although she still has bad days, she has been lucky enough to access therapy that has contributed significantly to her recovery journey.
One of the most important pieces of advice that she has for anyone is to be kind to people struggling with mental illnesses and not to try to patronize them in any way. Ultimately, she believes that people with Schizophrenia can live long, happy and fulfilling life, especially if they receive support from those who love them.