My son Henry was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was a 20-year-old art student in Brighton in 2002.
He had tried to swim across the estuary at Newhaven that February and was rescued from the freezing water by fishermen and taken to hospital – unconscious and suffering from hypothermia.
Henry was sectioned a year later and spent the next eight years confined in mental hospitals in the grip of a psychosis that ebbed and flowed but from which he could not escape.
He disappeared into a mental world where no barrier existed between dreams – nightmares and reality and the voices of trees and bushes spoke to him – became his friends and told him what to do.
He hated being confined in hospital but could scarcely have survived outside it as he wandered through east Kent – sometimes walking naked along railway tracks or swimming lakes and rivers in mid-winter.