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When you hear the word ‘schizophrenia’ what are some of the thoughts that come to mind? Maybe someone with a split personality, violent behaviour or an inability to hold on to a job or have a career? These perceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. People diagnosed with schizophrenia rarely present split personalities, nor is it normal for someone with the disorder to be violent, and in fact, when stable, working can help individuals learn to manage the condition.

So, what is schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is a long term mental condition characterised by distortions in thinking and perceptions which can sometimes cause hallucinations, delusions, social withdrawals, and can make it difficult for people to interpret and respond to incoming sensations.  Simply put, schizophrenia is a condition where people may see, hear or believe things that are not real.

David, a senior support worker at Lifeways is one of the estimated 20 million adults who suffer from schizophrenia worldwide.

Diagnosed in 1997, David has lived with schizophrenia for over 23 years. Like many of us, David has lived his life seeing and hearing the exaggerated portrayal of the condition in the media, and set out to shed some light on the condition by publishing his own book, Schizophrenia: The last taboo. In his book, David shares his personal experiences and gives an insight into schizophrenia, how it can affect people and how some symptoms can appear many years before diagnosis.

David said, “Since my book was published, I feel more confident and I feel a weight has been lifted.”

David joined the Lifeways team nine years ago after being made redundant from his job as a tutor working with people who have a range of disabilities. “I found Lifeways by total chance. It was the first opportunity I was given, I took it and I haven’t looked back since”, he shared.

As a senior support worker David works closely with people who have mental health diagnoses, including schizophrenia. Living with the condition himself, he is able to offer support with a greater understanding of the requirements people might have. “I have a very good understanding of people with schizophrenia; having lived with the condition myself, I can empathise and offer encouragement and advice. Some of the people I support have read my book and they see me as hope that they won’t always be stuck in the system. It means a lot to be able to give someone that little bit of hope”, he said.

David is living a normal life and is determined to inspire other people living with schizophrenia and to continue to remove the stigma surrounding it.  “Treat people with schizophrenia just like normal people because they are. As long as they are taking their medication, they are just like everyone else. I am fully compliant with my medication and I haven’t had a single relapse in 23 years.”

If you would like to find out more about David’s book, check it out on Amazon

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