A-Z

Barry

Age at interview: 19
Age at diagnosis: 16
Brief Outline: Barry was bullied a lot in school and was diagnosed with autism at a young age. He experienced delusions when he was 16 years old and was in hospital involuntarily for over a year. He has since started an apprenticeship.
Background: Barry is a full time support worker and healthcare assistant apprentice. He is single and is mixed race.

More about me...

Barry was diagnosed with autism at a young age. He was bullied and struggled to make friends at school. This began to change when he was 14 and went on a residential trip with his youth club. He started to make friends with people during the trip and this really helped his confidence. He still attends a youth group where he does the Duke of Edinburgh award which he feels has really benefitted him through giving him skills and opportunities to do things. 

When Barry finished school, he went to study catering at college because he enjoyed cookery. He enjoyed the course at first but he found the pressures of having to do coursework, learning many different things and multitasking quite stressful. In January 2014, Barry’s mum began to worry that he was getting depressed, and in February he had his first “mental breakdown”. He started being disoriented at college and he couldn’t focus because his mind was “all over the place”. One morning Barry woke up and saw a red cartoon car on his curtains. Later that day Barry met up with his friend in a park and they saw an accident involving a red car. He felt the red car he saw on his curtains was a vision of the accident. He didn’t want his friend to call the ambulance because he was paranoid that the accident was somehow his fault. 

Shortly after, his mother contacted CAMHS who put Barry on a waiting list. Within a week he began not knowing where he was and became very “stuttery”. He found it difficult to respond to people who were talking to him and became “completely erratic” and “couldn’t sit still”. Barry’s mother took him to a local CAMHS centre where he had had help for autism in the past. Barry was given an appointment four days later but his mother had to bring him back sooner because she was concerned for his wellbeing. The psychiatrist prescribed an anti-psychotic (trifluoperazine), which had bad side effects the next day – it made his arm get stuck in a position wrapped around his head. When this happened his mother took him to A&E where he was given diazepam (a benzodiazepine) to help him relax. In the days to follow Barry continued to be delusional and was later admitted to a child and adolescent ward under Section two of the Mental Health Act for a month and later under Section three for twelve months.

Barry remembers sitting in hospital for long periods with strong delusions. He would sit for days staring at one thing and barely eating any food which made him lose a lot of weight. 

Barry wants to support other people who are struggling. He is doing a full time apprenticeship to become a support worker and health care assistant with a charity that works with people who have drug addictions. He is also active in a Facebook group where he supports others living with mental health issues. 
 

Barry was bullied a lot at school until he was 15 and always felt “down” about himself. When he met new people on a youth club retreat who were nice to him it gave him a confidence boost.

Barry was bullied a lot at school until he was 15 and always felt “down” about himself. When he met new people on a youth club retreat who were nice to him it gave him a confidence boost.

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Well, this probably didn’t affect, this probably didn’t affect the exp, the mental health illness at the time, but it might have some background effects sort of thing. Like when I was at school I got bullied a lot. Didn’t enjoy school whatsoever. I didn’t have any friends whatsoever. Then when I was fifteen maybe fourteen yeah, when I was about fourteen, I went on a residential with a youth club. Can probably say this [the UK]. It was a mountain centre. So different people, different, loads of different organisations who came to use it, and I had chance to climb [a mountain]. But what had it, did it for me was like, there was another school there. And I got along with them all very well, and for me it was the first – I never really got on with people and that gave me a big confidence boost. And I think when you are always feeling down about yourself, you tend to feel like everyone’s doing something wrong – like, like they’ll always. If, if there’s a silent kindness you will almost feel like there’s – it, it’s some sort of mixed up joke amongst them and you, you just don’t feel like anyone wants to be nice to you. But I think it’s important to remember sometimes it is just genuine. That they do care, or they do enjoy your company, and not to always put the downer on things.
 

When Barry woke up and saw a red car on his curtains it didn’t bother him. But during the day he passed a car crash involving a red car and thought he had caused the crash.

When Barry woke up and saw a red car on his curtains it didn’t bother him. But during the day he passed a car crash involving a red car and thought he had caused the crash.

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All of a sudden one morning I woke up, and I saw on the curtains a red cartoon car. It was something silly. It, it didn’t bother me, I knew, I knew that I never had a red cartoon car on my curtain in the first place.

Yeah.

I thought nothing of it, and I met up with a friend. And it was near a shopping centre, and there was like a double roundabout. And we was in a little park nearby, and there was a car accident. And for no reason at all, I was telling my friend, not to call the ambulances because I was just getting paranoid that it was somehow my fault. Even though I was just in the park and there was nothing, I was nothing connected. I think what happened, the reason was, was because it happened to be a red car involved. And I thought it was some sort of final – what’s the movie called? Final, oh 

Encounter, or?

No. Base- it was - It just reminded me of one of these horror movies where people getting visions of the future. Of accidents that had bad effects but. Then my mum tried contacting CAMHS. And they put me on the waiting list. Within a week I started not knowing where I was. I’m, I was, I was very stuttery. So I could be like, sort of thing and. And when people was talking to me I just, I would take forever to reply. In the end I don’t know how to explain it. I was just completely all, I was erratic, I was all over the place. I couldn’t sit still. I’d be moving all out, all around. And in the end, my Mum felt I was getting so bad, so she took me to [a specialist unit], I’d say. It was a, it is a service run by CAMHS. And because I had a past record with the autism, my Mum took me there and made me stay and wait in the waiting room, and refused to leave until I was seen by someone.
 

When Barry was in hospital he had paranoia. He would sit for the whole day just staring.

When Barry was in hospital he had paranoia. He would sit for the whole day just staring.

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I don’t think I had a diagnosis at that stage. And I was completely – I wasn’t with it at all. And I’d sit in the dining room and I’d just sit there. Right from - that was after getting, walking up and down the corridor, looking at the fire alarm, worried if it was going to go off. And when I finally got downstairs I‘d sit in the dining room. I’d stare at the separator, and literally be like this. And I’d be there right from eight o’clock in the morning, when breakfast opened and they got everyone up, right through till ten o’clock at night. And I barely just moved for the toilet and that’s it. People tried talking to me and I’d just stare. And this was going on for months. With very few signs of things improving. I was - anything I did was done - I was basically being nudged in the right way with some of the support workers' help, and other staff that was there. I would barely, I would barely touch my food. The support workers were basically bringing me a small selection of food and putting it in front of me. And I’d, I would barely, I’d barely touch it with a fork, and I would just stare. I was losing a lot of weight and - Yeah, I was losing a lot of weight. And things slowly got better. And I was on olanzapine, and [background noise]. 

Sorry about that.

That’s okay.

Okay so, do you think it was the medication then that slowly helped, or? 

Yeah, it was helping, very gradually. I was, I was, I was practically nudged towards the medication room to take my medication. Because I would barely move. I slowly got better, I’d start moving around a little bit more. I’d still sit down a lot. And then all of a sudden, I’d sit down. And, on, on like a - on a surface, work surface? And leaning against the like, wall-ey bit in the middle was this little poster, and it said something like ‘world mental health day 2010’. It must’ve been there for ages. And it had like beau-, I can’t remember. It was like beautiful something, something, world mental health day. [Background noise]. And because of the windows, and the way the light was looking down at it, the light on the poster would change. And I’d, I’d be okay as the light was moving down the picture. Because I’d still sit there for hours on end. So I just saw the light moving down, then all of a sudden it got towards the bottom, and it 'world mental health day', and I was really, really worrying. Because I thought what it meant is, all of a sudden the whole world was going to suffer with mental health difficulties. 
 

Barry experienced a “high” from drinking cold water because his senses were heightened.

Barry experienced a “high” from drinking cold water because his senses were heightened.

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When I’d wake up in a morning, I - my senses would like wake up, I could still hear [inaudible] what was happening around me, and it would - it took great difficulty to open my eyes. Then I would just be laying on my bed, and I just couldn’t move. And then there I’ve been stuck inside the walls, and I have very access to the outside world [background noise], and I guess my senses was heightened.

Right.

And it sounds a bit silly, because you get people who take drugs and this and that, to get their highs of whatever. But I, because they had a little water dispenser, and it was always really cold, all of a sudden I started drinking the water. And I thought I was getting high. 

Okay.

Off of a cup of water [smiling].

Right.

I’d be drinking it, and I’d be drinking it in a way that the cold water was hitting the back of my throat.

Yeah, yeah.

And because I could, my senses were heightened, I could feel it trickling down the back of my throat.

Right.

I just, I’d just sit there with a cup of water doing it. And, I don’t know why, it was just weird. It was very weird.
 

Barry explains that he was kept in hospital first under “section two” then under “section three” of the mental Health Act.

Barry explains that he was kept in hospital first under “section two” then under “section three” of the mental Health Act.

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I was first put under section two.

Oh right, okay. 

The section two, you can be hold for up to twenty eight days. And whether you like it or not, but you have the option to appeal. And they do this because they feel that it’s for your own safety or others around you, for you to be under an inpatient service. Within those twenty eight days, they need to decide whether or not they are going to put you as a – I should know this. As an informal patient. The, that way you can - you’re being, you’re being - you’re receiving support at an inpatient service, but you have the free will to leave whenever you like.

Or if they feel like you need the support, for your safety or others around you, they put you on section three, which lasts up to six months. I was put on section three twice because at the end of the six months they still thought I needed the support. 

You were only in, sort of went inpatient as it were for a month, and then?

No. I stayed at the hospital I was at.

Oh you, did the same time? Okay. 

And the section three followed, before the section two ran out, and I was just -

Okay. So that means [inaudible]

Yeah. I was basically put in this one ward, and then I was put - over a two and a half month, month period. I was put in a - I was put in a ward.
 

Going on a residential camp with his youth club at age 14 helped Barry make new friends. Before going to the camp, he had been bullied a lot and had low self-confidence.

Going on a residential camp with his youth club at age 14 helped Barry make new friends. Before going to the camp, he had been bullied a lot and had low self-confidence.

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Because before that residential I had no friends. I was bullied regularly, and I’d always think the worst of people. And think the worst of what people think of me. Soon after the residential I started talking to people in my youth group. And someone called A, was there for me. And I met a lot of my friends through that person.

Oh, brilliant.

And then I just made friends off friends. And because it weren’t until I was fourteen that I done the residential, I guess I grew up a little bit slower than people. 

In the sense that when you’re younger, you have a laugh, you muck about with your friends and so on and so forth. But it weren’t until come, come sixteen, seventeen, I’ve only just branched out, making friends. So I’d, I’d make friends, friends through one friend, and that’s how my social circle kind of kicked off for me. It was – I had no friends transferred from school – it was all from the youth club that I went to. I still attend one there, I do Duke of Edinburgh awards and that can be good. It gives you a reason to do things. So like you’ve got a physical, a skill, and volunteering section. So you can gain a lot from it. As well as getting your awards at the end.
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