'For 12 years, I was hallucinating and hearing voices, now I'm an author and proof you can get better from mental illness'
While enjoying a busy career as a translator, Bangor woman Rosemary Adams became unwell in her 40s. She tells Stephanie Bell how she recovered to establish a new career as a writer and about her fascinating discoveries as an astrologist.
Rosemary Adams has led a fascinating life as a translator, astrologist, medium and now author of a fairytale book for adults.
The Bangor woman's first novel and second book Temporary Periods of Joy takes the world of magic, kings, fairies and toads to a whole new level.
At 67, writing is a new chapter for Rosemary in her own intriguing life which she has shared in an autobiography, I Know Where The Crows Fly: A Book of Home.
In it she deals with a very disturbing period in her life when, in her 40s, she developed paranoid psychosis.
Rosemary spent 12 years in and out of mental hospitals suffering hallucinations and hearing voices.
She refused medication and finally came out the other side to make a full recovery.
If anything, she says her illness has given her a deeper understanding of the meaning of life. It was during this time that she discovered she had ability as a medium when a spirit spoke to her - although this particular gift is not something she shares with others.
Rosemary says that she was born spiritual and although she has worked all her life as a translator specialising in translating legal documents from Italian to English, she has also practised astrology as a passion in her spare time.
It was her desire to study astrology which took her to London where she lived for 30 years before eventually returning to Northern Ireland five years ago to be closer to her elderly parents.
Despite writing about her illness openly in her autobiography she is still hesitant about discussing it publicly because of the social stigma surrounding mental health.
She says that she was mocked by some people during those terrifying years though, with perhaps surprising grace, she also insists that she understands why her tormentors couldn't comprehend what she was going through.
Rosemary has a wonderful sense of humour which comes through in her books and also in conversation and she laughs deeply and often, even when talking about what was obviously a very painful time in her life.
She recalls: "I was born with a spiritual awareness and when I was about 13 my grandmother gave me a book about fortune-telling which I think was published in the 1900s. I was fascinated by the astrology section.
"I've always, even as a child, experienced the coincidences of life but it was only during my period of illness that I discovered that I had the ability to be a medium.
"I was around 43 when I started hearing voices and went through 12 years of paranoid psychosis.
"It is not something that I can easily explain; it was like living in different realities and as someone who was always spiritual in a way I found it fascinating but it was also very terrifying.
"I heard voices all the time and I came through it with a degree of courage and came out the other side very healed.
"The world I lived through during those 12 years was incredible and very different to the world of reality.
"When I got well it felt like I had gone from this very vibrant multi-faceted universe to the real world which seemed very mundane.
"I was in and out of mental hospitals but I never once raised my voice, I was living in different worlds.
"It gave me a real understanding of the world and why we are here and what the world is about and how we do live with spirits. If I ever write another book it will be about the nature of reality.
"I found reality is not exactly the way we see it and we live in the world we see. It is a world based on love.
"Through it all I just kept going and then I started to realise some of it wasn't real and I made the effort to get back to the real world and gradually it burnt itself out and I got back to normal."
Rosemary says she has no idea why the illness struck but believes she had bottled up a lot of emotion over the years.
She is grateful that the fact she came through it now demonstrates that it is possible to recover from such a severe medical condition.
While recovering, it was a very different voice which spoke to her out of the blue and made her realise that she had developed the ability to be a medium.
It was a clear sentence which stunned her and it has happened a couple of times. The words were positive and loving and she now believes she has discovered the identity of the spirit.
She says: "The voice was as clear as you speaking to me now on the phone and it took me completely by surprise. It was just a few short words about what I should be doing based on love.
"I just called her the lady, as her voice was beautifully modulated.
"I would be thinking of a situation and suddenly this voice with love would speak to me and it was utterly shocking.
"I was in Glastonbury and I spotted a plaque which made me cry. It said 'For I am the lady you seek; I am the source and the return'.
"I discovered it was from the Lady of Avalon who was very much a spiritualist being who embodies love and I just thought it was a beautiful concept and she had come through to me."
Although she doesn't practise astrology anymore Rosemary did study it as a part-time interest over the years, making charts mainly for the new born babies of friends.
She started studying astrology in Dublin in her early 30s and moved to London so that she could progress further there.
While studying the planets she can foresee things which could impact on a person's future and has done so successfully on many occasions although she insists it is not fortune telling.
She says: "I don't sit down and spew things out like a fortune-teller.
"It is all based on very stringent calculations.
"It is a great thing to get done for a newborn child. If you can pick out times when significant life changes might happen you can influence their pattern of behaviour and how they will deal with it.
"If you develop an astrological mindset then if you know what's coming up you can prepare for it. For example, if a very bad financial period is forecast for me I will start to rein in my spending and be ready for it. It can be an enormous asset.
"I think fewer people are studying it now and it is not as big as it was in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. I've had really positive results. I had a friend who got me to do a chart for her newborn son and I saw that he would be very attracted to law, even though it is not in the family. He is now a barrister. I really don't know if the chart itself influenced his choice of career but it was spot on.
"I had another who I saw travel for and he now lives in New Zealand. I only do it now for my own purposes. I've also become interested in Indian astrology and I'm studying that at the minute."
As a translator who enjoyed writing Rosemary joined a writers' group and started to write funny poems when she turned 60.
She first published her autobiography four years ago: "It wasn't easy to write because of my illness but it gives hope and it is humorous and it did get good reviews," she says.
She took the title of her new book Temporary Periods of Joy from a quote attributed to William Butler Yeats - "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."
It is a fairytale for adults which tell the story of a young girl from a land and time far away who is onto her third marriage - to a king from a distant land - by the time she settles down.
But her husband gets turned into a toad by his former lover. Worse is to follow as the king's sisters are out to murder the toad.
Beneath all the magic, humour and fantastical adventures is a story of love.
Rosemary added: "Temporary Periods is about human nature and the sadness and joyfulness of existence.
"It's about beauty and the question of whether truly beautiful women are responsible for the disasters that hang upon their beauty.
"It's about the soul and continuance of the soul after death.
"It's also about a toad and the misadventures that befall him. Hopefully it is an uplifting book and it is great fun as well. The feedback so far has been tremendously positive.
"I think about 60 people that I know of have read it so far. Men seem to enjoy it as much as women, which I would actually expect.
"It's not a woman's romance."
- For more information go to Amazon and search for Rosemary Adams, where the Kindle and paperback versions of Temporary Periods of Joy are available.