A-Z

Sam

Age at interview: 18
Age at diagnosis: 17
Brief Outline: Sam experienced depression from the age of nine and began hearing voices and seeing shadows of people who were not there when she was 15. She wants to study at college but has been turned away due to stigma about her psychosis. Medication has not helped her.
Background: Sam is White British.

More about me...

Sam was bullied a lot at school and was given support for depression from the age of nine. This support lasted for a few years but between the ages of 12 and 15 she stopped telling anyone how she felt and things built up inside her. She was self-harming and was bullied for being different. The teachers ignored the bullying and if Sam argued back to the bullies she herself got in trouble. She eventually stopped saying anything and slowly stopped turning up to classes. By the time she started secondary school she had extreme depression and anxiety which turned into psychosis. 

She was in year ten (aged 15) when she first started hearing voices, at first coming from inside her head, calling her name and then saying things about her that weren’t true. As this progressed voices seemed to come from the ceiling or from objects around her at school – one time she remembers having a full conversation with a pencil case. She told her head of house, who was supportive, but the school counsellor specialised in depression and wasn’t able to help her. CAMHS worked with her on her anxiety and she saw different psychiatrists through them, one of whom said she was “probably leaning towards psychosis” and told her “we don’t really deal with that”. She was 17 when CAMHS decided she needed to “switch over” to Early Intervention Services (EIS). 

The transition from CAMHS to EIS was not well managed. Her psychiatric nurse (CPN) didn’t turn up for their first two meetings, and when she did turn up she was late and Sam didn’t get on with her. She would take days to respond to Sam’s calls, even in a crisis. Eventually Sam asked to be assigned to someone else and now has a good CPN.

There was no out of hours support for Sam after she was discharged from CAMHS, and when she needed support she had to call 111 or go to A&E. On one occasion the person who took her 111 call reported her case to the police and they almost knocked her parents’ front door down, thinking she was going to hurt herself or someone else. She is now worried about calling out of hours support in case it happens again. 

Since her first experiences of psychosis the voices have got worse and she hears different voices telling her different things, for example to hurt others, although she has never acted on them. Sam was told she was experiencing psychosis by a psychiatrist at A&E. She thought it would mean no more college, no more education, no more social life. 

Sam has tried lots of medication including anti-psychotics (aripiprazol, risperidone, sulpiride and quetiapine) but nothing works. Although they have not helped her she has experienced negative side effects from taking medication such as weight gain, and interruptions to her menstrual cycle. Anti-depressants were eventually stopped because of concerns that they would increase the chances of her having seizures - she has experienced seizures occasionally since she was 4. 

Sam has tried to apply for financial support (PIP) but says that the process doesn’t work well as the people who go through the application don’t seem to understand mental health. Her psychosis means that she has good and bad days, and she says the people who assess you don’t seem to understand mental health and “unless you’ve got like your leg falling off” they don’t see that you have an impairment. She currently lives with her parents.

Sam wants to study and applied to go to college but has been made to leave two colleges because of her psychosis. The colleges didn’t go through the proper procedure for assessing her – they didn’t speak to her care worker for example – and they just saw on her notes “borderline psychosis” and asked her to leave. Even though Sam has no history of hurting anyone, one college safeguarder told her mother Sam couldn’t go back to college until a hospital had said she was safe to be around people. If she misses out on going to college this year she won’t be able to reapply because funding for full time college will no longer be available for her full course, and she is worried about the impact this will have on her future. 

Sam finds exercise is helpful and she has a “gym buddy”, organised by a local charity. She goes to the gym once a week and has also done rock climbing in the past.

Sam is in a relationship and her boyfriend doesn’t judge her for her psychosis. When she first met him he already knew something about mental health and guessed what she was experiencing. In contrast Sam has found it hard to keep all her original friends because some didn’t really understand what was happening when she was experiencing psychosis. She “cherishes” those friends who are still there for her.
 

Sam’s psychosis “stemmed from being bullied” in school. She had also been experiencing depression and was self-harming.

Sam’s psychosis “stemmed from being bullied” in school. She had also been experiencing depression and was self-harming.

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Because we started doing GCSE from year 9 and year 9 was a bad year for me anyway, because I started to self-harm and stuff and fell back into my depression and feet first and yeah. And then, of course, 'cause obviously that's when I started to get bullied, because I was self harming. And because of how I, because I was different from everyone else. 

So that was in the school environment.

Yeah. And the teachers just, basically in the classroom just ignored it. And half the time when I decided to shout back at them, I got in trouble. So I just stopped saying anything and just slowly stopped turning up. 

Sounds like there wasn't very much awareness.

No, they sort of and there was no point sort of telling anyone, because when you did, they just sort of like told the person that you told them and even if they said someone told me that they knew the person that was bullying you knew it was you that had gone to someone and it just got worse. I stopped telling anyone and I just stopped turning up to lessons. That was the only way I could just sort of escape it, because they started, because it was like really hot classrooms. I wasn't gonna sit with three coats on just so I wouldn't get poked fun at, you know. But, and that's sort of when I started sort of like hearing bad things about myself, because of like that. The only thing going through CAMHS and that, they've sort of realised is that it's sort of stemmed off being bullied. 

I was gonna say. 

Yeah, they sort of realised it's sort of, that's the only thing they could sort of put it on it. It's sort of being stemmed off sort of being bullied about, you know- And especially because I was overweight in school and constantly being called, fat. And they [sighs] and then I started hearing things like about myself and I started like hearing the bullies when they weren't even around me or I was sat in the office on my own. And, so, it wasn't until my key worker sort of decided to say, ''Look, you need to go and see someone because it could be something more than...'' I said, ''No, it's just anxiety.'' And she said, ''Yeah but it could—'' That's when she started to think there could be something more than that. 
 

Sam had seen someone for depression at the age of 9. When she started secondary school her anxiety got worse and eventually “turned into” psychosis and she started hearing voices and seeing things others couldn’t see.

Sam had seen someone for depression at the age of 9. When she started secondary school her anxiety got worse and eventually “turned into” psychosis and she started hearing voices and seeing things others couldn’t see.

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Well, when I was nine I went and saw someone for depression for a couple of years. And then, sort of stopped like. That went on for a couple of years and then I sort of stopped telling anyone anything and told everyone, I was fine. Didn't keep, didn't tell anyone anything. Built a load of stuff up as I went into secondary school. Sort of developed anxiety and then got to year 10 and then, then ended up going to, a nearest mental health hospital for anxiety and depression, and extreme depression which then, last year, got, turned into psychosis. 

Well, when it started being anxiety, I wasn't like hearing my name from the corner of the room or objects or anything, it was just more sort of oh, everyone, someone laughs goes past me, everyone think they're laughing at me. That normal voice your own voice in your head just sort of telling you, they're laughing at you or they're talking. If someone goes past talking loudly past you they’re talking about you and stuff like that like normal anxiety. I wasn't, I knew that was what it was, but it wasn't until year 10 that I realised I was just sat in. That's when I sort of got merged, I sort of started refusing going to my lessons because of it. Because I started like, I'd have like an object on the table and I’d sort of hear it like having a conversation with me and one or more times in beginning of year 10 I'd had a full conversation with a pencil case and I know it sounds stupid, but I'd be the only one sat on that table and people just looked me like, who are you talking to. And then, I’d just not say anything and I'd just walk out. And then, I've started sort of when I was in certain classes I started refusing to go to my certain lessons like science for that. 

And then I decided like after I'd been in put in, head a house office to do my work, they tried to reintroduce me. But because that time it sort of escalated and I’d start- my depression would come back and I'd started to see things which I knew was a sign of depression. Because I have family members that have it, but only have depression with that. And I'd started to like see shadows, stood outside classroom doors, then come in- through walls I couldn't stay in the—like classes like that. And I used to just run out and like I'd get my stuff, pick up my stuff, not saying anything and just walk out and go home. Or go somewhere else like go out of the school, 'cause the gates were always open.
 

When Sam had hallucinations in school her head of house found her a key worker who she could talk to.

When Sam had hallucinations in school her head of house found her a key worker who she could talk to.

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Head of house and that sort of someone you could go to—

Yeah and I sort of just sort of like and then she gave me a key worker. She set me up with a key worker who I've still got contact with. He just checks up on me to see sort of how I'm doing. And then, she sort of like did some work with me make sure I got my course work done. Make sure teachers gave me work. And then that sort of went into year 11. And then I started going back- and in year 11, I started going back into sort of normal classes and then 'cause I was with and then it sort of got worse again. And I ended up not in classes again doing more work with my key worker. And like I'd go running like into her like saying like, there was someone watching me. I'd start having like full conversations with people who weren't there or people who were like, ''Who you talking to?'' and I'd say, ''You know, that person stood there.'' And there'd be no-one there. My key worker obviously knew, like sort of, what she would just sort of say to me, ''You can talk to me about it.'' 
 

Sam was told “bluntly” by a psychiatrist at A&E that she had experienced psychosis. The way it was put made her feel like there was something “seriously wrong” with her, like she was “broken”.

Sam was told “bluntly” by a psychiatrist at A&E that she had experienced psychosis. The way it was put made her feel like there was something “seriously wrong” with her, like she was “broken”.

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CAMHS psychiatrists have said it's leaning to, all she said was, ''It's leaning towards psychosis.'' But she wasn't entirely sure until basically the doctors all sort of said, I said, you know, ''CAMHS have sort of said they are not sure.'' I said, ''Well hang on a bit”, she said “I'm definitely sure. You know, and you need to go to that other service”. Because she said, ''I know full well CAMHS, A\ they stop when you're 18. And B\, they don't cater for it.'' So—

And what was that like to hear that?

I felt a bit like, like something was like seriously wrong with me. Like, the way it was put. I felt like a bit well, I'm broken, basically, am I? And like something was like seriously wrong with me and like—

Because of the way she said it?

No, it was just the way it was just bluntly told to me like it was just, I just felt like right, okay. And I basically said, ''Oh thanks.'' And basically got up and walked out. But and I said, ''I need to walk around sort of the little courtyard bit outside of A&E just to get some air, 'cause I needed to think.'' But and came back in and saw her and she was just like, you know, she explained it a bit more to me and why she'd made that decision and she said, ''She can actually make the decision because she's the head of the psychiatrist at the hospital.'' So she can actually make that decision on the referral to the EIS. But, yeah, I just felt like great- you know, that's ‘it’. Everything just felt like everything ‘stopped’ like that's my college gone. I literally said to her, that's my college gone out the window any sort of education that I wanna do has gone out the window. My social life basically gone out the window because I can't concentrate and have a conversation with anyone, because I'm constantly turning round. I walk down the street on my own and I'm constantly turning round thinking someone's behind me. And I get really paranoid as well when I'm on my own and everyone has gone to bed at night. I get really paranoid that, you know, something's gonna appear in the mirror or something's gonna be outside the window, tapping on the window. Basically, it's like I just felt like I was like that's it, that's my life now. And then she said, ''Oh, they can, they can control it with medication.'' So I thought, Mmm, well that’s fine, you know. And I thought, ah okay, fine. 
 

When Sam was “switched” from CAMHS to EIP to access more specialised staff, she was assigned a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) who didn’t turn up to meetings. It was some time before Sam had a CPN she “got on” with.

When Sam was “switched” from CAMHS to EIP to access more specialised staff, she was assigned a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) who didn’t turn up to meetings. It was some time before Sam had a CPN she “got on” with.

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And then, it they CAMHS sort of did some work with me on anxiety and tried to give me behavioural therapy, which didn't work. So I'd different psychiatrists and it wasn't until the last doctor I had that he said, ''It's probably leaning towards psychosis and you need to go to early to a new service because we don't really deal with that.'' I mean, we can help you up until you transfer, but we don't, they don't really deal with that, 'cause they're not, they're only for like depression, anxiety like in, up to 18 anyway. So I would have had to move over anyway. 

How long had you been sort of how long from that first time that you noticed the voice or the voices until you got that referral?

What to CAMHS?

To the EIS service or seeing an actual psychiatrist or did CAMHS have psychiatrists—

Yeah, they did have psychiatrists, but not sort of trained very much in it. They more for sort of anxiety and put me on antidepressants which don't generally do anything. —

They were focusing on the anxiety.

Yeah, rather than the other issue and when they sort of ran out of options with me like May last year, they sort of just said, ''You know, it's probably leaning towards and we need to switch you over, you know.'' Cos, you can’t, we can't basically can't, we don't have any more resources basically [laughs] to help you with that. So, —

And was it a fairly smooth transition or?

Not really the person who I was supposed to be. I got a letter first saying I'd been assigned a what they call a social worker for EIS or CPN worker. And, she didn't turn up the first time. She didn't turn up the second time. Me and my therapist waited and waited and waited in sessions. Took about six weeks for her to actually turn up when she was supposed to. Then I thought she was sort of alright, but I didn't really get on with her that much. And then when I had switched over and got onto their doctors, I didn't even like, I didn't gel with her at all. She was three hours late to everything. And said things but never did things. So, I just after about end of September time, I just said, rang up the admin and was like, I wanna move 'cause I can't—and she wasn't, because I was technically emergency on her caseload she wasn't even seeing me once a month. And I was technically under like you have to see me twice a week. And she said, I'll always see you twice a week. And she used to tell me off for ringing the 'out of hours' when she never ever replied to me anyway. So I'd message her at three saying something like, you know, I'm literally at breaking point. I need support. And she'd never reply to me till two days later. And when she got like four or five emails from 'out of hours' and even 'out of hours' were shocked that she didn't even reply. So I just said, spoke to my dad about it and stuff and switched over. Within three days got someone new. And so that's who I'm with now and she's a lot better, you know. But so but, yeah.
 

Sam describes two support groups she attended. One felt stressful because there were new people every week. The other was good because there were lots of people and they could choose whether they wanted to talk about their experiences.

Sam describes two support groups she attended. One felt stressful because there were new people every week. The other was good because there were lots of people and they could choose whether they wanted to talk about their experiences.

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She basically, she ran a group, started a group on a Wednesday evening up at the hospital. 

You've been to it?

And I went to it a few times and there was like it was nice 'cause there was like people there my age. A little bit younger, couple of years younger than me and a little bit older than me and I talked to a few people and but it and I did a survey about she wanted me to do afterwards and what they could improve and that. Yeah, and it was really nice 'cause we weren't sort of, it sort of mentioned about psychosis, but not all the time like we started like playing games and stuff and just sort of like we and everyone sort of, no-one was really like forced to talk about their own experiences or talk about it. It was like we played a game first and and then there was, she like they ordered pizza and it was just really nice. There was about nine I think of us.

Quite a big, yeah—

Seven to nine of us, which I was a bit worried about at first, but there was a couple of people that I knew from when I did rock climbing 

And yeah and there was a couple of people I knew from when I did rock climbing and stuff. But I stopped doing that, because that was another support thing that I was going to with people with support workers and that, general- not assigned to me, but general ones from the team and but then that sort of got too big and I stopped going last year. And so, it started off with just me and the others and support workers and the instructors. And then, then it got like another person which I was okay with. And after a couple of weeks, I got friendly, talking to him. Then another, then I went away for a couple of weeks and I another new person came back. And it was just, every time I was going it was about three or four new people and I couldn't deal with it at the time, 'cause I wasn't on any anxiety medication or anything that worked. So I couldn't deal with it and I'd just go home all the time. Which I sort of spoke to her on the last time I went before Christmas and sort of said, ''Look, I can't come back any more until maybe in the New Year some time, because it's just stressing me out too much and I've already got so much on my plate as it is. I don't need all that.'' And she was fine with it and that and I stopped going. But, that's the sort of support group and so I've not really found any others —
 

Sam talks to her sister most and her sister sometimes helps to explain things to their mother when Sam can’t talk. Her brothers don’t really speak to her.

Sam talks to her sister most and her sister sometimes helps to explain things to their mother when Sam can’t talk. Her brothers don’t really speak to her.

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My sister that I'm most closest to, she sort of works with, where she lives up North where she moved up North, she sort of works with people. She understands the medications and stuff that I'm on, 'cause she works with people who like are getting off drugs and stuff. So she understands sort of like the sort of medications that I have to go on and stuff I'm feeling. And I've spoke, like and she used to live with me when I was little. But it's just sort of hard because I can't just go to her and go see her all the time when there's sort of—and she's the only one sort of that actually wants to talk about it with me and doesn't wanna just like silence it, which you know and sort of helps with my talking to my mum and that when there's like when I'm—'cause I get stages or points where I don't tell anyone anything and that is never a good thing. So, but she sort of just helps explain it to my mum why I'm not talking and you know, and then my mum sort of comes and talks to me. And then she gets it out of me. But, it [exhales]. And some of my brothers just when they found out sort of that I was sort of like mental health hospital and stuff, they were just like, oh, and sort of stopped talking to me for like a few days and then started talking to me again after about a couple of weeks and just don't really wanna know about it. So, I don't, I just don't talk about it with them to be honest. I don't really mind 'cause I talk about it with my sister that I'm most closest to, so.

And then you're living at home at the moment?

Yeah.

And is that quite important to get that support and be around your family?

Yeah, 'cause they don't, 'cause I live on with just my parents 'cause I'm the youngest. So they don't sort of, well no. of course, when I was little like my, I had like my half brothers and sister and that here and, and 'cause they just now it's more times that I'm on my own. And it's more harder to sort of talk to sort of my parents and sort of say, you know, what's wrong and because I don't want 'em to think, you know, that I'm like some crazy lunatic, which I don't think they would. But I know they wouldn't. But, when I do have an episode or something it's like all I can hear is don't tell this person. Don't tell this person, because they told us that they'll, that they'll think this of you or you can't tell anyone or you, you know, you shouldn't tell. You can't tell like—sometimes I can't even tell like they won't even let me tell my own boyfriend like there's a problem. Like he has to literally like realise how I'm talking to him that there's something wrong. Like I can't even tell my own mum sometimes. Or I have to ring my dad because when he works at night or something at like two in the morning or something to say to him like when I've let everything build up. And, so that's why, probably why I don't sleep that well. 
 

Sam lost a lot of friendships and finds it hard. She cherishes the friends she does have.

Sam lost a lot of friendships and finds it hard. She cherishes the friends she does have.

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But friendships are sort of harder. Because the friendships that I lost are people that I'd been friends with since I was like this high. 

So it's really hard that something like that like and like people said to me, obviously they are not true friends. But when you've been friends with them for ten, twelve years it's and then they don't wanna start not speaking to you as much, because of that without telling you, you know it's because of that. And you know, and I've basically got hardly any friends left. But the ones I do, I just sort of like [laughs] cherish and sort of, you know. 
 

When Sam started to experience psychosis she would run out of the school. Her teachers allowed her to sit with her tutor and choose which lessons she would attend.

When Sam started to experience psychosis she would run out of the school. Her teachers allowed her to sit with her tutor and choose which lessons she would attend.

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But it wasn't until year 10 that I realised I was just sat in. That's when I sort of got merged, I sort of started refusing going to my lessons because of it. Because I started like, I'd have like an object on the table and I’d sort of hear it like having a conversation with me and one or more times in beginning of year 10 I'd had a full conversation with a pencil case and I know it sounds stupid, but I'd be the only one sat on that table and people just looked me like, who are you talking to. And then, I’d just not say anything and I'd just walk out. And then, I've started sort of when I was in certain classes I started refusing to go to my certain lessons like science for that. 

And then I decided like after I'd been in put in, head a house office to do my work, they tried to reintroduce me. But because that time it sort of escalated and I’d start- my depression would come back and I'd started to see things which I knew was a sign of depression. Because I have family members that have it, but only have depression with that. And I'd started to like see shadows, stood outside classroom doors, then come in- through walls I couldn't stay in the—like classes like that. And I used to just run out and like I'd get my stuff, pick up my stuff, not saying anything and just walk out and go home. Or go somewhere else like go out of the school, 'cause the gates were always open. I'd go out of the school into the park, get the bus home or go see my friend who was in college. And just sort of run away from my issue.

And what did the teachers do? Were they sort of?

Well they were sort of confused why I kept running away and first off I kept running away and then I'd have weeks where I'd be, had a house officer like for a week doing—normally in the lessons. Then when I came back I'd start sort of running away from their lessons or not turning up to their lessons and just sort of sitting in my tutor room and talking to my tutor. And then they sort of permanently said, ''you know.'' They looked at my timetable and sort of just said, ''What lessons do you wanna go to?'' with my friends that I would go to that I sat and made sure that I was sat next to her. So I would stay in those lessons and that was mainly like English and tutor and that was about it. 

English and what sorry?

Like your tutor room. They're called Tutor. So your classroom like where you go like in the morning with my tutor. And that was like, that was it, like basically.
 

Sam experienced discrimination when she joined a college. She chose not to continue studying there.

Sam experienced discrimination when she joined a college. She chose not to continue studying there.

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Do you remember any particular incidents around that sort of stigma?

There was last year getting in, trying to get into college. I got into college just about the place an hour out from here. And they, I, that was my induction week. And I basically went to my tutor and said, ''Look, I'm experiencing this that and the other, seeing this, telling me this.'' 'Cause by then, they'd started telling me to hurt other people. But I told him that in confidence and said, ''I've never acted on it.'' Which I haven't. You know, I've never acted on it. I said, they had the number, the number of my CPN worker and I said, you know, ''You can ring her.'' And I spoke to someone else who was really nice about it and didn't know I was with EIS and that. And she said, you know, ''Yeah, we'll speak to her and that about it.'' They let me go home. But turns out, I got home, got a phone call from them saying that I couldn't, they said, ''Oh we’re worried about you.'' But it was like, I could tell they weren't. They were just trying to be nosy. And it was the way they said it. It was the way the woman said it, I could tell. And my mum came in just that time and she said, ''Can we speak to you mum.'' And I said, ''Yeah, fine.'' It's like they didn't say it to my, to me. They said it to my mum and literally said the exact words that I was gonna kill everyone.

And this was the college?

This was the college safe guarder said, “I'm ringing up from such and such a college that, you know, your daughter goes to and she said, this this this”. And half of it was what I was misinterpreted what I said and my mum said, ''She can't go back to college then?'' They said, ''No, not until the hospital that she's at say that she's safe to be around people. 

And how did they become aware of it?

Because I had a support meeting in the August before I started there in the September last year. And I told them that I was still switching over at the time. And I gave them literally every single person whose ever dealt with me, I gave them every single contact number, everything. Email, phone number, everything. The addresses and they just didn't bother contacting anyone and they was like, ''It's fine. We won't judge you. We don't judge you. It's fine and everything”. And then as soon as they found out that it was like, at the time it was borderline psychosis. As soon as they found out that it was like could be that. They was like, they just didn't wanna know me as a person any more. They just took me as someone who was gonna kill everyone. And they were all nice to my face and that. And then basically my mum said yeah, but that's like that's what she doesn't act on it. That's what she hears. It's a psychosis. And then they, she said, ''You need to ring her.'' I rang my CPN worker and just told her what happened and she said, ''Why didn't they phone me.'' And I said, ''Exactly.'' My mum told them to and they said they would. Next- two hours later, I got, about two o'clock I got a phone call from my doctors saying that they'd made an appointment for me with my doctor. 'Cause they were telling my mum that I need to see my doctor and she said, ''She don't even go to the doctors about it. She sees a different doctor at the hospital. And they took no notice of that. Rang my doctor and my doctor said when I got there, ''I don't know why you are here, because you won't hurt anyone.''

So why do you think they did all that?

And it turns out because they'd never had a meeting with my CPN worker. So my CPN worker was off at the time, she couldn't do a meeting. So she made a meeting and they tried to basically say I was lying. 

Are you still planning to go to that college?

No, 'cause I transferred like literally on that day I said to them, ''I don't wanna come back. You've really put me off now. I don't wanna come back and you judge people with.'' Like the worser end of mental health conditions. I and you know, they said, ''Oh no, no, don't be like that.'' I said, ''Look, I don't want to.'' You know, 'cause everyone'll—they told the whole class as well. And so the whole class will just sort of judge me. So I said, ''I don't wanna come back.''
 

Sam describes her experience of applying for PIP. The people asking her questions for her application didn’t seem to understand that the difficulties caused by psychosis are “intermittent” and her application was refused.

Sam describes her experience of applying for PIP. The people asking her questions for her application didn’t seem to understand that the difficulties caused by psychosis are “intermittent” and her application was refused.

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And sort of finances, I remember you were talking about the sort of trying to get benefits. 

Mmm… like, cos, it's like I don't really know what to do about that. I don't wanna be on benefits like for rest of my life. But I don't really want know what to do about it. When I get a job like do I mention it or 'cause they go through and look through your background and stuff. I don't know whether I'm supposed to mention it. But then if I do are they gonna, are they gonna judge me and I don't really know how to go about it. So

Stigma around it.

Yeah. So and I've sort of spoke to a CPN worker about it and that and she said, you know, ''Try and sort of get some sort of income like ESA or PIP which I'm trying to do. But, just they don't especially with PIP they don't wanna give it away very easily like I understand that. But also, they don't sort of see like the [camera pans out] like they don't see that it like that it is technically an illness. They don't see that. They just see it because they caught me on a day twice that on the interview that I was fine and I was still telling them everything. My support worker was telling them everything. First time they copied all the wrong information, wrote all the wrong information down. So, second time, they still rejected it. And I haven't even read it to be honest. I just read the rejection bit. I haven't even read like their report or anything, because I don't even know if they got like got the letter that my CPN worker sent. For all I know they couldn't. So I've just gotta take it to her sort of when I see her before I go away and just sort of say, get her to read it and sort of see what's going on. But, you know —

So do you think their assessment method isn't very accurate?

No, because it's only like unless they like, you've like got like your leg falling off or got like one arm or something. They, they or like a vision impairment like a really bad one. Like they don't, they don't see it. It's like it doesn't enter their head. And the amount of times I've said it's intermittent. It can, I can have good days and bad days and really bad days, you know. And today might be a good day that you've caught me on, you know? But [laughs] that’s as good as talking to a window, you know. 'Cause they don't, they don't like I say, they don't hear the word intermittent. They just go, right, okay. They don't, they don't write it down. I know they don't, because it would come up on the report. They don't write it down. And it's just like, it's just irritating. And so, we've tried filling out that form and sending that off to ESA before Christmas. No idea if they have anything. Have I got it back or not. So, my CPN worker's gotta ring them up and sort of see what's going on. But only it's the irritating thing is, they won't talk to her until I give them permission. Until I say or they want to talk to her. If she rings 'em up on behalf of me, they just won't talk to her. That's how it is with the benefits.
 

Sam’s current boyfriend talks to her about her psychotic experiences “like it’s a normal thing”. He looks past the mental health experiences and sees “the person” in her.

Sam’s current boyfriend talks to her about her psychotic experiences “like it’s a normal thing”. He looks past the mental health experiences and sees “the person” in her.

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And I guess like he sort of, I’m lucky like I said like 'cause he sort of understands psychosis a bit. And sort of like knows how to sort of like, like how to handle me, in a sense. And doesn't label me. That's the thing like most people that I've been with before have sort of just sort of labelled me as crazy and psychotic, basically. And not really understood it and not wanna talk about it and not wanna deal with me or speak to me when I'm having a crisis. But, so I wasn't really expecting like. When I first met him in November, I wasn't really like expecting him to sort of wanna talk about it and stuff. But he was like, he still talks about it to me like it's just a normal thing. He doesn't sort of, which I think is a good thing, he doesn't sort of like like make it like a big deal. He just sort of says, you know, that's part of your life and it's not part of his own. But, you know, and not everybody's but you know, and that's just something you've gotta deal with. But, I think that's how he sees it. But he sort of looks past that like past the mental health problem and sees the person in me, not the issue, which I think is good. But, but it is like 'cause like 'cause I started talking to him before we actually got together, I started talking to him as friends and he's just sort of helped me through it anyway. But it was just sort of like, it's [exhales] I don't, I don't know like it's hard to sort of tell the person that like 'cause I get like when I have like a really bad episode or something and I get a lot now on my own, especially. 'Cause when my mum goes to bed early or like I’m down here on my own. I have to be on the phone to someone or to him just so I'm not alone, 'cause I start to think I sort of see things in the mirror and sort of freaks me out and I get paranoid and yeah. 

Doesn't end well. But so it's just, it was a bit sort of difficult sort of saying to him, you know, this is sort of what's wrong with me [laughs]. You know, I don't, 'cause I didn't want him to sort of like—'cause we got on so well like in the first time we met and stuff, 'cause he lives sort of two hours away from here. So, it's sort of, the first time we met and that at the train station and that in [the local area]. I didn't really wanna like say it straight away, because like I didn't wanna ruin anything. But he sort of like found it out anyway, because like when we was like on our own and that and here and stuff and I started like freaking out and he like didn't sort of, he knew it wasn't anxiety, basically. He basically said to me, ''I know what's wrong with you.'' Without me even saying anything, which I thought was you know, he used his head, basically. But yeah, so but I think not everybody is like that, which is what I've sort of realised like the past people that I've been with and stuff like the person like I said before like they just didn't wanna know and didn't wanna talk about it with me. Didn't wanna talk to me when I was like that for a few days and basically said I was like faking it. Which, you know, but I'm sort of glad that I sort of found someone who looks sort of past that, but still helps me, you know.
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