Gary wearing dark sunglasses, light blue shirt next to Garry, who is wearing a dark blue shirt and jacket.

‘There is a misunderstanding between schizophrenia and people who don’t have schizophrenia”

It’s a sunny Monday morning and Gary Fry has returned to his flat in central Queensland after a solo walk to the hot chip shops.

“I can get lonely,” he says.

Mr Fry is one of 100 Australians participating in the complex brain disorder schizophrenia

It causes people to have an altered experience of reality, including delusions and hallucinations, which affect their thoughts, perceptions and behavior.

“It used to be terrible,” Mr Fry said of the mental illness.

“A lot of people always blame me for everything, it’s always the schizophrenia… [people] say you’re some kind of psychopath.”

Mr. Fry does not drink alcohol.

“Mixing one with the other, taking your pills and all that — you can get sick or die quite easily from it.”

The 67-year-old manages his symptoms with a monthly injection.

But it has been a difficult road for the man from central Queensland, who has spent most of his life moving between towns and villages to psychiatric wards, closed institutions, emergency shelters and the street.

“I was hit on the head in the hospital a long time ago.

†[I] lose a little concentration, sometimes take a difficult path.”

He finds joy in the little things, such as listening to the radio, flipping through magazines, and reading library books.

“I think there’s a misunderstanding between schizophrenia and people who don’t have schizophrenia.

“Do I think the community cares about me? It’s hard to say.

“I suppose some people care about me, but they have their own way, they have their own families, children, their own problems.”

Gary Fry lives independently in his flat in central Queensland.ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler

What is citizen participation?

Garry Turnbull, a retired architect, has been Mr. Fry’s lawyer and nanny for three years.

“You never replace family, but it is very important for” [Gary] to feel needed and feel that people in the community care about him,” he said.

They were linked through Capricorn Citizen Advocacy (CCA) – a state-funded organization that connects advocates (everyday people) with protégés (people with cognitive or communication problems or those in vulnerable situations).

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