A MAN who has battled with schizophrenia for his entire adult life has bravely opened up about his struggles. Lancashire Telegraph reporter NEIL ATHEY sat down with one man who was diagnosed with the severe mental health condition 42 years ago, when he was just 18

MELVYN Wilson’s world was turned upside down when he came home from a bad day at work in August 1977 and started hearing voices in his head.

These voices were telling him to do bad things, such as take his own life, and began to torment Melvyn for a long period of time.

He was sectioned under the mental health act and was given a variety of different treatments.

From injections to tablets, to controversial electronic shock treatment, the 60-year-old’s battle to keep himself level, as he calls it, became a constant struggle.

Melvyn had six sessions of shock treatment in 1982 following a relapse, as well as further sessions five years later.

He said: “I would be taken into a room, tied to a table and I would be put to sleep.

“The shocks would then take place, without me feeling it, and then I would come round and be put on a ward with loads of other people like me.

“You’d feel like nothing happened but then you’d try to walk and you can’t feel your legs, it wasn’t very nice at all.”

Melvyn lived with his parents Vincent and Mary Wilson, until his father died in 2012, aged 82, and he now lives with his mother alone.

The Blackburn-born man said his schizophrenia is caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain and symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions, muddled thoughts and changes in behaviour.

Talking about how he experiences the condition, Melvyn said: “It’s like you don’t exist. I don’t feel like I’m really here. It’s like being in a dream.

“It’s like feeling drunk almost, but not feeling good or happy sensations - you don’t have any control and don’t realise what you’re doing.

“You don’t think about anything until it's happened and you remember it as if it was a dream.”

This behaviour caused Melvyn to put himself, and others, in serious danger.

In 1987, Melvyn - during a psychotic episode - took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed himself in the chest.

He said: “I got the knife and went upstairs to my bedroom and stabbed myself in the chest.

“I walked downstairs and asked the neighbour over the road to call an ambulance as my mum and dad were out at the time.

“I was sectioned for five months as a result.

“I didn’t feel depressed, I didn’t want to kill myself, I felt like I was in a dream world and didn’t realise I was doing it because of the imbalances in my head.”

Other terrifying experiences included Melvyn setting a train on fire in 1994, when it was arriving at Victoria Station in Manchester.

Melyvn said: “I went into the toilet and for some reason there was a box of matches in there.

“I set all the toilet roll on fire and put it in the bin.

“There was smoke coming out of the toilet and these two lads had to put it out.

“When I got off the British Transport Police came up to me and said I was seen doing it.

“But I could not remember, I didn’t know what was going on.”

While never causing harm to others, Melvyn said he could appear to be aggressive or intimating if he became stressed or worked up.

He was arrested in the 1980s for suspicions that he may have harmed the Queen while visiting London.

Due to his behaviour, Melyvn became isolated and often kept himself away from public and the rest of the world.

He said: “I used to go to pubs and socialise but I would get people calling me crazy or telling me I’m not unwell.

“They think I’m fine because I don’t have a physical illness, but I’m not a well person.”

Melvyn was sectioned in several areas across the UK including London and Manchester, and spent a lot of time at the former Queen’s Park Hospital.

Melvyn’s medication involves taking carbamazepine twice a day, as well as side-effect relief tablets and getting a monthly injection.

He said he fears for young people who are being diagnosed with schizophrenia due to the stress on the mental health service.

He said: “I think I have been able to control it now more than I used to be able to. But I really do worry for the young people of today who suffer from mental health.

“I believe the awareness has become better, but the infrastructure to cope with treating mental health isn’t there.

“Hospitals are under-staffed and the nurses and doctors can’t give everything their 100 per cent focus.

“I have been treated well by nurses throughout my life but I do think things were better when I was younger.

“Without nurses, and my mum and dad, I wouldn’t be here.”

Melvyn said his social life revolves around taking his mum out to the Empire Theatre and going to watch Blackburn Rovers play at Ewood Park.

He said: “I tried to hold down jobs when I was younger.

“I worked for a packing company for a short time and as a cleaner, but I could never hold anything down for long.

“If I had any advice for young people today; speak to someone. But most importantly, speak to the right people. Speak to those who are willing and want to help you. Otherwise you may end up feeling worse and not getting the help you deserve.”