Mental illness looks different for every person who experiences it. Below are three honest accounts from people who live with schizophrenia — what it’s actually like, how it affects their lives, and what they wish people understood about it.

Michelle Hammer, 27, graphic designer and entrepreneur in New York

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Michelle Hammer

When were you diagnosed?

Michelle Hammer: I was diagnosed schizophrenic at 22, but I was diagnosed as bipolar when I was 18 or 19, in college. I was living with some roommates at the time and, after college, when I was living with the same people, I told them, “Hey, so they found out I’m actually schizophrenic,” and they were like, “Oh, that’s what we always thought you had.” So it was kind of like I was the last person to know.

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