A woman who claims she was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia, which led to electric shock treatment at the former High Royds psychiatric hospital in Menston, is now helping mental health patients access the care they need.

Jean Davison, of West Bowling, has written a book, The Dark Threads, about her experiences, which started when she left school at 15.

“I was a typical teenager but was shy and confused about life. I was in a boring job and felt dissatisfied,” she said. “I just wanted to talk to someone. Like most working-class families of that generation, my parents had that ‘pull yourself together’ attitude. I asked my GP for someone to talk to – what we’d call counselling now.”

Aged 18, Mrs Davison was referred to a psychiatrist who suggested she went to High Royds. She said: “The system came down on me like a steam roller; I was immediately put on heavy drugs and electric shock treatment.’’ Mrs Davison was a patient at High Royds for four months and attended the day hospital for five years. Eventually she refused treatment. “A ward sister told me I was having more electric shocks because ‘you’re no better’,” she said. “I was drowsy and depressed on stupor of drugs, I felt dead inside. I thought if I came off them I couldn’t feel worse so I said I didn’t want any more treatment. It took a lot of courage.”

Several years later she discovered she’d been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was depression,” she said. “I didn’t have symptoms like hearing voices, hallucinations, psychotic delusions. I had what they called ‘simplex’ symptoms – lethargy, blunted emotions, social withdrawal.”

Mrs Davison re-built her life. She went to university, got married and now works for a charity affiliated to Mind, helping people with mental health problems seek relevant treatment.

“There have been improvements, but psychiatry is arguably even more biologically focussed,” she said. “Depression is too easily dismissed as a physical rather than a social problem “I lost five years to the mental health system. I turned my life around but others don’t have the courage I found.”

The Dark Threads, published by Accent Press Ltd, is released on Monday.

e-mail: emma.clayton@telegraphandargus.co.uk