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Green Lettuce

Age at interview: 25
Age at diagnosis: 20
Brief Outline: Green Lettuce wants to be an entrepreneur, lives in the countryside, is single. Ethnic Background: White British.
Background: Green Lettuce had problems with anxiety, voices and paranoia. He is now much better and wants to set up his own business. He takes a tranquilizer (Diazepam) and a sleeping tablet (Zopiclone) but no anti-psychotic medication, and thinks time has helped the most.

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‘Green Lettuce’ said that he was once just ‘normal’ and had friends, played pool and was his ‘normal self’. Then he started getting really bad anxiety and paranoia. He felt that people were talking behind his back and that people were watching him all the time. Green Lettuce started to hear voices in the third person, conversations going through his head, and found he was able to predict what was going to be said in conversation and on the television. He also felt his thoughts were being broadcast to everyone. Eventually this got so bad that he would not leave the house as the voices said they would kill him if he did. He went to the GP who prescribed him anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills. He said that the doctor ‘seemed to be in a rush’ and that now he has a different doctor and a support worker. Green Lettuce said that he had been taking Risperidone for about a year and it made him feel ‘worse’ and ‘didn’t do much for the voices’. He said that the range of anti-psychotic medications didn’t do much, saying ‘the only thing that’s helped really is time’, although Seroquel did offer help for a very short time.
 
At one point Green Lettuce was supposed to go into hospital but couldn’t see a doctor there, so phoned his dad up to take him home. He thought that everyone was against him and that they were all trying to make him worse. He even doubted that he was speaking to his Dad on the telephone. At home he thought he was going mad and didn’t ‘have a clue’ what was going on. He didn’t think he could get any help but he found that the anti-anxiety tablets helped more than the psychotic medication. The Lorazepam helped him ‘calm all [his] thoughts down’.
 
He eventually started going out to see his friends a bit more and felt a lot better. His friends thought that it was because he smoked so much skunk that he was feeling paranoid. At the peak he was smoking 2ozs of skunk a week or ½ oz of hash a day. He was an infrequent user of ecstasy, taking two pills, and was once spiked with ecstasy. Green Lettuce has had some bad reactions to weed and drink in the past, blacking out for minutes at a time. He said that his friends helped a lot to make him feel better, but also posed a problem because they were smoking weed. He found that the more he talked to people the more it helped, as it was blocking the voices in his head. He also had a support worker, who came around every week to see how he was getting on, and appreciated this help. He then had some cognitive behavioural therapy which helped him ‘get back into a normal routine’, and the support worker took him out for walks. He found information on psychosis on Google and read up on it.
 
Green Lettuce then went to college to do a course at a residential college; this was a success, but he did start getting drunk, which made him feel ‘better than normal’, and it was easier to ignore the voices. He felt he drank less when he was at home. Diazepam helped a great deal. After leaving college Green Lettuce has looked for a job, but because the market is so competitive he is thinking of setting up on his own as an entrepreneur. Green Lettuce would move for a job but likes the peace and quiet of a rural environment, despite the difficulty of getting to places, and living on benefits doesn’t allow him to run a car.
 
Green Lettuce doesn’t take anti-psychotics at all and is on Diazepam and Zopiclone. Although Lorazepam is stronger (in some people’s opinion) its effects last only a short time. He prefers Diazepam as it has a longer half-life. Green Lettuce spends his time going on short walks, mending computers, and looking for a job. He sees his GP once a month but no longer feels he needs a support worker. 



For more of Green lettuce’s interview see our site on ‘Experiences of psychosis’ 

http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/mental-health/experiences-psychosis/green-lettuce-interview-11
 

Green Lettuce tells people who are hearing voices to ignore them, get a 'proper routine' going,...

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Green Lettuce tells people who are hearing voices to ignore them, get a 'proper routine' going,...

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If you are getting voices in the head telling them stuff that they don’t want to know, ignore it, try your best to ignore it no matter how much it’s saying it. But try and keep your mind as occupied as possible. And try and get a proper routine, daytime routine. That you awake in the normal hours. The night times in my opinion can make it worse. Because you’re not interacting with other people and that definitely doesn’t help at all.
 

Green Lettuce went to his GP when he started experiencing paranoia and hearing voices. He was prescribed anti -psychotic medication.

Green Lettuce went to his GP when he started experiencing paranoia and hearing voices. He was prescribed anti -psychotic medication.

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And what happened next after you were hearing these voices, and you’d been confined to your room essentially?

I went to the doctors and he just prescribed me medications. 

So you went to the GP?

Yes.

And can you tell me about that visit?

He asked me what was going on in my head, and I said, “I had thoughts in the third person, like voices in my head telling me stuff.”  And he said, “Had I been taking drugs and stuff?”  I said, “Just smoking weed.”  And he said, I hadn’t been… I can’t remember what he said now. He said something else as well. And then he prescribed me some anti-psychotic medications, as well as a sleeping pill, and anti-anxiety pills as well.

Can you remember what the antipsychotic was?

At first it was Risperidone, and then it was Seroquel then it was quetiapine and then it was Abilify. But that was with different doctors.
 

Green Lettuce describes his voices having conversations with each other as well as commenting on what he was doing, and telling him not to leave the house.

Green Lettuce describes his voices having conversations with each other as well as commenting on what he was doing, and telling him not to leave the house.

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So what were the voices saying?

They said loads of different things really. It depends. Sometimes it’s like in the third person, sometimes it’s just voices, like it was like, different people were having conversations to each other through my head, and I couldn’t make out what it was about, because it was just like so frequent and fast that I couldn’t make out exactly what it was saying. Yeah, it was really weird.

Can you remember the first time you heard a voice?

Not specifically no, because it all like started at the same time. 

And did you talk to anybody at the time?

I didn’t, no. 

And were the voices saying nice things, horrible things?

No. Bad things, usually.

Can you tell me what you are comfortable about saying what they were saying to you?

In the later stages they were saying, like I’d get killed if I left the house and stuff, and I’d die if I went to sleep, and that’s mostly it, and then I got, I had voices commenting on everything I was doing like, they were saying like, “[Name] is rolling a cigarette.” Or, whatever. Stuff like that. Like I was doing something and they were just commenting anything I did. So it just did my head in to be honest.

I can imagine.

Yes. 

And did you get any time when the voices weren’t talking to you?

Only when I was asleep and even then I could still notice it sometimes. So I didn’t sleep very deeply at all. 

Because of the voices saying I’d get killed if I went out. And it was like all the time, every second of the time, it was saying the same thing. In different ways to make it look, sound like to me but there is no way I can go out without getting killed. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s what it was saying all the time.

It doesn’t sound ridiculous. It sounds very distressing for you.

Yes, it was pretty bad.

And how were you coping at the time?

It wasn’t easy to cope with. I just thought all the time that hopefully one day it would go away. That’s all I, that’s all I thought really, most of the time.

And were the voices anybody you recognised?

No. Not, no one in particular, it’s just well the voices were different, like the actual accents and stuff, but I couldn’t pinpoint, they weren’t actually people I knew or anything. Just like pretty random. I was actually quite sure that it was people that could have been nearby, because I used to think that I could hear like other people’s thoughts, and they could hear my thoughts and stuff. Stuff like that, and talk to people in, in my head, and they responded. But it was obviously not real. 

You said earlier that you were starting to get quite paranoid?

Yes.
 

Green lettuce thought his thoughts were being broadcast to the world.

Green lettuce thought his thoughts were being broadcast to the world.

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I used to think that people could hear my thoughts. And also that they could hear anything that was going on around me, like, if I was listen… listening to music, I thought other people around me could hear the music I was listening to, even if they weren’t able to so the distance or whatever. And like conversations that were, that I could hear, I thought other people could hear through my head kind of thing, at the same time. 

And things like, just noises, generally, that I thought everything, I thought I had in my head, I thought was broadcast to everyone around me, and further afield as well. Sometimes everyone in the world, I thought it was just broadcast to everyone like, at one point I thought I could control the TV, like what the people were saying on TV. And like, because I used to think what they were going to say before they said it all the time, it’s really weird. Just too co-incidental.

And what did that feel like for you?

I don’t know. It was just really weird. Just a lot to take in at one time. And I used to have dreams of adverts in and like in a week they’d be on TV.
 

Although Green Lettuce knows now that things that seemed real during his psychotic episodes, weren’t actually real, he still believes certain things that most people don’t, for example he thinks it might be possible to predict what others are going to say

Although Green Lettuce knows now that things that seemed real during his psychotic episodes, weren’t actually real, he still believes certain things that most people don’t, for example he thinks it might be possible to predict what others are going to say

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And did you speak to anybody about thinking that your thoughts were being broadcast?

Yes. I spoke to a lot of people about it. Yes. Yes. Doctors. My, my support worker. Parents.

What types of things did they say?

It’s not real. It’s not possible. Even to this day I think it can be possible. But no one will be believe me, but no one knows for a fact I don’t know how anyone can disprove that they’re impossible though, that’s the thing. 

And when you look back at these things, which are very different to how you are now, does it feel real what you went through, does it feel…?

Yes. It felt real at the time, it was real. Looking back at now, I know it was, going through withdrawal at the time, but now I know that it wasn’t actually real what was happening to me. But that’s only in retrospect, like looking back on it. I know different now. Because I know that those things aren’t normal now. Kind of thing. I still believe some stuff that most people don’t.

What types of things?

Just like you can talk to people in your head. But I’m not a hundred per cent on it. 

Almost like... sort of psychic stuff?

Yeah. Like telepathic and stuff like that. And being able to predict what people are going to say and stuff like that. There’s too much to it, that makes it seem to me, like there’s a possibility that it can be true.

And have you have looked any of this stuff up on the net?

Not really.

But being able to you know, predict adverts a lot of people are saying…

Yes, all these things have added to like a point that I believe certain things now. Just because it can’t be just a coincidence, the amount of times it’s happened. 
 

Green Lettuce had different members of a mental health team visit him at first.

Green Lettuce had different members of a mental health team visit him at first.

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But I was soon referred to my, a support worker and he came round every week and talked to me. And she saw how I, she saw how I was getting on. And that helped a lot as well.

And what were they like?

Yes, they were good.

Was it a guy, woman?

A guy. I had different people come round to begin with, but I only saw them one time, and they were just talking about general stuff, do with what Psychosis, and, but I didn’t see them again till… I’m not sure. But the main guy I saw every week or two for about two or three years I think. He visited me at college as well.

And what types of things was he talking to you about?

He was just asking if I was getting better, really most of the time. Then I think I had some cog… I can’t remember what it’s called, some therapy.

Cognitive behavioural therapy?

Might have been that. Some woman came round.

CBT?

Yes. I had to write my, get my days back into normal routine and write down when I got up, what I was doing all day. In Ex... on the computer and and that helped. It got me back into a normal routine.

And did you like the woman that came round?

Yes.

What did you like about her?

She was just easy to talk to and. Would listen to what I had to say. That’s about it really.

And what about this guy, this support worker that came round for two years. Why did you like him?

The same reasons really. And he gradually got me to go out more, because like he would drive me to the beach and stuff, and go for a walk.
 

Green Lettuce tried many different medications and said that most didn’t help. Seroquel (quetiapine) only made the voices go away for a short time but diazepam helped a lot.

Green Lettuce tried many different medications and said that most didn’t help. Seroquel (quetiapine) only made the voices go away for a short time but diazepam helped a lot.

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Risperidone didn’t do much for me really. It just made me feel worse, it didn’t do much for the voices, like you think, but the Seroquel, at first worked a bit. But it only did, it normally lasted the effects as well for like half an hour, but I, you know, all the voices all the time, then it just wore off. But I was taking a lot of it and it wasn’t powerful enough to be honest.

And the rest of them well, quetiapine, I can’t remember, if that, I don’t think it helped, but I can’t remember totally. And Abilify (aripiprazole), didn’t do much. The only thing that’s helped really is time, I think.

And what did it feel like taking this medication?

It made me feel worse than I did before normally.

It what ways?

Just like, a bit more depressed than, didn’t feel as good. I think they liked blocked dopamine serotonin receptors in the brain. And I don’t know really.

So I got prescribed diazepam by the doctor, and that helped, that’s helped a hell of a lot.

Oh really.

Yes. That’s actually taking all the voices and stuff away actually.

Really?

Yes. Because it lasts so long. If I take it, like I take half and half like, half about ten and then half about 12 or something, of what I take, and chills me out a lot and makes it easier to sleep. And it lasts into the next day, well into the next day. Nearly until I take it again. 
 

As Green Lettuce started getting better he went out with his friends to the pub. It was hard to begin with because his friends were smoking weed and he wasn’t but he got used to it.

As Green Lettuce started getting better he went out with his friends to the pub. It was hard to begin with because his friends were smoking weed and he wasn’t but he got used to it.

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It felt like I was socialising better, and getting to talk to my friends that I’d known for years. Most of them anyway. And like I always wanted to keep, keep in contact with them, because they were my friends at the end of the day. But it just got difficult. Then, they, then I started like going to the pub and drinking, not much, but just like a pint or two with them, and playing pool and staying out for longer. And it gradually helped. My friends did help a lot. And it was difficult, because they were smoking weed, like when I wasn’t, and that’s not, well at that time that wasn’t easy. But I’ve been in the same situation since then and I find it a lot easier now.

And what was it about your friends that helped?

Just talking to them again, but other things, like norm… like football or music or something, not weed. That’s all we used to talk about really I’m not just weed.

That sounds familiar [laughs]. So you were mainly going down the pub, just having a couple of games of pool. That kind of thing?

Yes.

Did you go out to concerts. Football?

Not really no. 

And how did it feel, you know, inside your head at that time when you started to go out a bit more?

Oh I thought it was helping a lot, and I’d try and do it more often. I did. It did help a lot. Because I found that the more occupied my brain was, like the more I was talking to people, the more it helped. It was like blocking the voices out of my head. So that’s probably half of the reason it helped.

And did the voices die down when you were speaking and things like that?

When I was speaking, they were, not as apparent, because my attention was more on the conversation that I was having at the time. Rather than what was actually going on in my head. Yeah.

So they were sort of in the background?

Yes. 
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