Albert's story: Talking about friendships, relationships and mental illness

Albert is 55 years old. He has experienced severe depression and also has schizoaffective Disorder and a social phobia which he now manages through a combination of medical treatment and family support.

There's a history of mental illness in my family although it wasn't known until after my mother's suicide in 1986. I have had two major bouts of depression, which began during a non-physical relationship with a woman at work. The relationship became too complicated and resulted in me walking out of work and having two months off with depression.

Eight months after I returned to work, I experienced another major episode of depression. It was really severe and made me feel almost suicidal. My GP sent me to a consultant psychiatrist who prescribed anti-psychotics, although this turned out to be inaccurate because I was later diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.

I told my family but didn't receive any support. My sister's attitude was 'everyone has problems, just deal with it'. I did get support from one brother, which was mostly financial, and for that I am very appreciative. However, I found that my niece was my best source of support. She has anorexia and we talk and support each other.

My wife is also a good source of support. We're not together anymore but we're still friends and during our marriage she listened to me and accepted what I said.

I'm also getting support from my next door neighbour. She's also had mental health problems so we can help each other by having long talks and making sure each is okay.