Mental Health UK

Lee’s story

When Lee McCabe was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia his mum was told: “You’ll never know the Lee you once knew.”

“I started to have what I now know were the first signs of schizophrenia in the summer of 1994 when I was 23. My family began to notice changes in my character so a friend of my sister suggested I see my GP, and I ended up at a psychiatric unit.

“Being on the ward was very scary. When my mother visited I started screaming at her, shouting: “What am I doing here?” My paranoid feelings and hallucinations meant I started blaming my mother and taking my frustrations out on her. Shortly after I was admitted the ward manager told her: “You will never know the Lee you once knew.” It was an awful time.

“I was in and out of hospital for about six months I was allocated a Community Psychiatric Nurse, who was the first person to sit down and talk to me about my medication, what schizophrenia was, how to cope with my anxiety and panic attacks and what services were available. Hafal day services gave my life structure and kept me busy. They helped me stop dwelling on my paranoia. After a while my confidence improved and I spent a year working at a restaurant.

Some time after this I started learning about computers with a tutor from the local college. As part of Hafal’s Recovery Programme, I sat down to talk about my aims to work full-time and come off medication. I've achieved both those goals: I became a Hafal staff member in 2006 and I've been off medication and fully recovered since February 2007.

I now work with service users every day. They can see recovery is possible but you’ve got to put the work in and have the right support. Looking back I wouldn’t have been as ill as I was if an early intervention service for people with a serious mental illness was available. My recovery would have been far quicker than 12 years.”

Please support our work and help us support more people like Lee who are severely affected by mental illness to recover and lead a fulfilling working life..