Linda Monteith

When Linda stepped on stage to give her high school valedictorian address, she was experiencing her first manic episode. “I thought I did a great job, but when I stepped off stage everyone was upset. I didn’t end up giving the address,” she says. “Two years earlier, I was hospitalized for depression. No one asked me if I wanted to see a psychiatrist. I was just put on medication and slept for a month. I was seventeen.”

It wasn’t until Linda was in her early thirties that she was diagnosed with a mental illness and was put on medication that helped. “It was a long journey to get a correct diagnosis. I went through being diagnosed with depression, then bipolar with psychosis but I kept getting sicker. Finally I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder,” Linda says. “I’ve been stable for a few years now.”

One thing that Linda has found helpful in her recovery is art based therapy. “Going to art based therapy has allowed me to find my community. It is where I became a photographer and a filmmaker, creating a film about my life. I’ve also published a book,” Linda says. “When I am at therapy surrounded by my friends and focused on my art, the suicidal thoughts go away. Now I have a life that I love”

Linda wants to tell her story to emphasize the importance of early intervention and to help eliminate the stigma around schizophrenia and psychosis. “I often wonder how would my life be different if I got the help I needed at 17 instead of in my thirties,” Linda says. “I want to start the conversation about psychosis and bring it into the mainstream to educate people.”