Isabella Fels
I have talked about my disability on television programs. In 2002 I was on the television show Australian Story. With the support of my family I spoke about schizophrenia. After the show I received caring letters and phone calls from the public. This support made me want to keep going on television. I wanted to educate people about schizophrenia. Before going on television I hid my disability. But not anymore. I have been on other television shows since that first time. Being on television has given me confidence and helped my relationships. It has also drawn attention to my writing.
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Isabella Fels on 20/06/2012
An illustration of an old fashioned television with the word TV on the middle of the screen

Being on television has helped me.

Television. I've had more than just my five minutes of fame. In the last ten years I have been on Australian Story, Today, 6.30pm with George Negus and the 7.30 Report.

Being on television has been one of the most exciting things in my life. It has given me a platform, a pedestal, a purpose. I no longer feel alone, and at odds with my schizophrenia.

Finally heard

It all started back in 2002 with Australian Story when my wonderfully supportive father and caring family encouraged me to first go public about my disability, schizophrenia. As I talked about the positive and negative symptoms of my disability, including a breakdown and the lead up to a psychiatric hospital visit, I felt the ball rolling in my direction.

How television gave me my calling. I could now explain things exactly as they were, whereas before I had silently suffered. A tremendous wave of public support followed Australian Story. I received many caring letters, phone calls and emails and this encouraged me to be in front of the camera.

Real role in life

Before I was on television I was ashamed of and hid behind my disability. I wanted so much to give to life and be at the centre of things but kept getting knocked back in one dead-end job after another. However now I feel my main job and real role in life is to educate and inform people about schizophrenia.

There for all to see

Being on television has made me come alive. It has lifted me out of the shadows of my schizophrenia and put me under the spotlight. How I love being on show for everyone to see, and showing my best side and putting one foot forward.

I particularly felt like a brand new woman having my hair and makeup done professionally for Channel Nine's Today back in 2003. It helped me deliver a clear and confident message to the public about the general nature and difficulties of schizophrenia. Alongside and with the support of my proud father who also spoke, I emphasised how important family is in the treatment and management of schizophrenia.

A place in life

I also felt strong and confident being filmed strutting up and down Chapel Street in South Yarra for the 7.30 Report early last year. The story focused on The Haven, my new supported housing facility nearby.

This accommodation, which my family and so many caring others worked so hard for me and others to obtain, means a lot to me. Thanks to The Haven I now finally feel I belong and have a great place in life with so many others who live independently in beautiful individual units just like me.

Getting my writing out there

Television has also drawn attention to my writing which consists of mainly poetry and articles. There were camera close-ups of me writing by hand on Australian Story and working on the computer in my unit on 6.30pm with George Negus. I love that my writing is showcased with a strong, powerful image.

Funnily enough, at the height of my schizophrenia I used to imagine the camera was following me everywhere. Now on a small scale I have experienced this in reality.

The magic of being on TV

So many good things have also come out of me being on television. I have raised public awareness about schizophrenia and been able to highlight my passion for writing. But I have also managed to turn the tables around, as people who didn't understand and even bullied me at school before my diagnosis have now finally reached out to me.

Being on television has acted as a primary vehicle in helping me gain inner and outward confidence, in standing strong and proud and at the same time helped my relationships.

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