Experiences of psychosis

Tim - Interview 30

Male
Age at interview: 61
Age at diagnosis: 19

Brief outline: Tim was first unwell when he was 19 and has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He has been on Depixol injections for many years, and believes acceptance of his diagnosis, the love of his mother, and religion have all helped him lead a happier life.

Background: Tim is unemployed, single and has no children. Ethnic background' White British.

Audio & video

Tim was born in 1949 and grew up living with his twin brother and older sister. He says that his parents had a very unhappy marriage. He was sent away to boarding school when he was 13. He says he was always ‘top of the class’ and got a scholarship to a major public school. The school was apparently famous for its brutality. He describes sexual abuse taking place in the dormitories, and because of this he used to stay in the changing rooms until late and only got four hours of sleep. He went to Cambridge but then ‘started screaming and crying and banging [his] head and wanting to die’. After his second year, a tutor suggested he had a year off. He was taken to see doctors, but never a psychiatrist. He hitchhiked to India ‘to die’ and left England with little money. After taking six weeks to get to India, he ended up living with a poor community in a sewer in Madras. He phoned his mother and she realised that he had gone ‘mad’. He came home and arrived in Heathrow and was taken to a ‘mental hospital’ where his mother came to visit him. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was told ‘they had to wait until it gets worse’. He says that he didn’t accept his diagnosis and it took him ‘13 years to accept it completely’. He went into a locked ward for four months when he was 20, and when he came out he had a ‘black cloud of paranoia for the next 29 years’. He went to a hospital voluntarily, and stayed there for a year. He was put on Depixol and met a great doctor. After that, he went to the south coast and heard the voices of God and the Devil competing with each other. He would throw himself into thorn bushes as a ‘penance’, and was eventually admitted to a ‘criminal ward’, despite committing no crime. The hospital was in a terrible condition, with mattresses on the floor, locked doors, filthy urinals and no beds or bath. He once tried to ‘made a bid for the locked door’ and was ‘forcibly injected’ and ‘left […] for a few days without food or water’. He was transferred to a hospital near his parents, and his doctor told his parents he was a ‘chronic long-term schizophrenic with poor prognosis’ who would ‘never work again’, so that they should ‘expect the worst’. After this he had various suicide attempts, but then he stopped because of his Mum. Many of his friends and acquaintances had successful suicide attempts. The voices he hears say ‘Hang yourself, cut your throat, you’re evil, you’re damned’. The injection has ‘curbed them down’ but ‘doesn’t take them away completely’. He has some ‘residual pain’ from one of his ‘many overdoses’ and suicide attempts.
 

He says that he has been on Depixol injections since 1978, and has had some good nursing care. He tried Modecate but it ‘didn’t work’ and Depixol ‘suits [him] fine’. He now goes to a Catholic church five days a week, and says that he has had a happy life. He thinks ‘you need God’s help’ and doesn’t regard religion as ‘therapy’ but as the truth. He doesn’t believe in alternative therapies and thinks talking therapy is a ‘waste of time’ as acceptance is the way to be happy. He thinks that people ‘seem to accept it’ if they are told he is ‘schizophrenic’, whereas ‘it wasn’t so a couple of years ago’. He felt that he didn’t want children as ‘schizophrenia is partially genetic’, so he stayed with his Mum, despite people in the services trying to ‘force [him] away from her’. He felt that ‘stupid 70s theories, like R D Laing’ said that ‘schizophrenia [was] caused by bad families’. He said that he hasn’t seen a psychiatrist for a long while, as he doesn’t need to see one. His last psychiatrist ‘never saw you for more than two minutes, never looked you in the eye’, but knew ‘exactly how to treat schizophrenia’. Tim went to a support group, ‘The National Schizophrenia Fellowship’, but he found it ‘a bit grim’. He doesn’t believe in recovery from schizophrenia, but he thinks some people have one episode and can work again to a reduced level, or can work again with an injection; some have symptoms all the time and can’t work and have to take injections. Tim believes he is in the last category. 

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