In hindsight, the illness was with me on a minor level for a long time, hearing people passing on the street, in the next room or walking by the house, all talking maliciously about me. I was convinced that random people and half acquaintances were running me down. This went on for almost 5 years before what I'll call "the big one". I started to believe that I could communicate telepathically with the musicians on my walkman, and even people outside the house. Sometimes I was seeing battlefields and everything around me turning into the Matrix though nobody else could see this. At other times my life became fantasy, I would believe that I was on a mission to track terrorists or think that I was God.
This went on for some time before I eventually saw a psychiatrist. It bubbled away in the background. I was oblivious to what was going on until these experiences started to frighten me. I was admitted to hospital and started taking medication, it worked, no more voices, no more seeing things. When I was discharged I did have some symptoms left and I worked with the psychiatrist to help these. The system that we developed was for me to keep a log of psychotic symptoms and write down the ones I wanted fixed at the next session, like a mechanic. And it's been working very well.
Having a mental illness is not the end of the world, by any means, 1 year later and I'm doing well, I'm probably just about back to normality. Just keeping physically healthy helps and I'm working on the rest.