A-Z

Psychosis (young people)

Working and psychosis

A few people we spoke to were employed, or were doing training. Some were working in the field of mental health, often in peer support, while others were working in another specialist area that interested them (for example Green Lettuce worked in IT and Joseph was a gardener). Many had done, or were considering, volunteering.
 

Andrew X is an elected councillor and does a lot of work around mental health. He finds it “therapeutic” and thinks his experiences of the mental health system have prepared him well for politics.

Andrew X is an elected councillor and does a lot of work around mental health. He finds it “therapeutic” and thinks his experiences of the mental health system have prepared him well for politics.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 14
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
So work for me really is important. Because it's not about working it's about doing something productive with my time. 'Cause it's a distraction and it gets me to pour my energy into something, it gets my mind thinking about something positive. I started, I mean I've been working even when I was in mental health services. I say, working like I do a lot, did a lot of participation stuff. So like sit on- go on interview panels. I'd, you know, talk about my experiences to groups of people and things like that. That was so helpful for me, 'cause it gave purpose to my experiences. A lot of my jobs are rooted around that. They allow me to, they've allowed me to use my real negative and positive experiences for something productive and to really be a catalyst for change in some cases. So work for me has always been therapeutic. 'Cause there's always, I, I couldn't work in a job where I was either being discriminated against, 'cause it does happen, you know, and I always have the view that if I'm in at an interview, I'm always gonna be open about my experiences. 'Cause if you're not prepared at that stage to be accepting to my experiences then when I really need you, when I'm at the lowest of the low, you are not gonna be able to support me then. I don't want to give you my time. My time is [laughs] not worth it. So it's been difficult, but I think I've done pretty okay. 

And you do so you've got your political work.

Yes, and I got, I got elected whilst still being in and out of [local area’s] Mental Health Unit. And don't ask how, but I'll always remember this. I was on the doorstep with someone and I was having a conversation with them about ‘this is what I'm standing for’ and you know, and ‘this what I'm passionate about’. And he looked at me and he sort of said, ''You're crazy.'' And I sort of took a step back and went, ''Yeah, I am.'' And then he shook my hand and said, ''You've got my vote.'' [Laughs]. And I think I became- mental health, being in mental health services prepared me for politics. 'Cause in mental health services you have to spin to get what you want and need. You know, you have to say certain things to certain people to get what you need, 'cause the system is so bureaucratic. You understand people a lot better as well when you're in mental health services. And I just, I don't know how, but it just really fit, really fit well. I suppose some people get like art, some people like music, you know. For me, politics is a way of expressing my experiences. And I'm okay at being articulate enough to do that. So, it just fit in well.
Finding employment after having experienced psychosis could be challenging, either because people felt too unwell and uncertain about the future or because they worried about discrimination. People often had “gaps” in their CV when they were receiving treatment or too unwell to work or study, and this made it harder to compete in the job market. Andrew Z was unemployed for a year and was “applying for work for like eight hours a day and no success… not getting to the interview stage”. He thinks not having completed his degree made a difference to his job prospects.

Most people wanted to work and said that being “active” was important, as keeping their mind busy could help them manage some psychotic experiences such as voice hearing: Joe explained “boredom is not good for me… doing something that I hate is better than sitting at home on my own in the quiet not doing anything. Because that way, quite literally, madness lies”. Lucy felt that her “identity was in work, and being good at [her] job”. But not everyone wanted to work. Chapman isn’t legally permitted to work because his application for asylum is still being processed, but says that anyway he would want to wait until he “gets better”. 

Some recognised that their mental health experiences added to what they could offer at work.
 

Nikki is training to be a mental health nurse. She feels that her own mental health experiences mean she can really empathise with people who are unwell.

Nikki is training to be a mental health nurse. She feels that her own mental health experiences mean she can really empathise with people who are unwell.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Okay, so you're training now to be a mental health nurse. What's that like?

It's good. It's tiring and it's a lot of work. It's definitely worth it though. It's annoying when you have to wake up at 5 am to go and do a 13 hour shift. You don't get paid for it. But it's still worth it. Still worth it. It's just difficult, but I enjoy it. I'm looking forward to finishing this, the course though.

And do you think that your own experiences make you, you know, add value in terms of what you offer there as well?

100%. I think the fact that I've been through the things that I have has really really helped me to have empathy and to be kind and that's the most important thing. I've spoken to a lot of people, I've said, you know, what do you think it takes for someone to be a good nurse? And they say, you know, someone that can understand, someone that can be nice. Someone that can be patient. Someone that can be empathetic. And, I have all of that in bucket loads because of what I've been through. So I think that has really helped, yeah. 
 

Andrew X tells employers about the benefits of employing someone with a mental illness and the considerations they might need to make.

Andrew X tells employers about the benefits of employing someone with a mental illness and the considerations they might need to make.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 14
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
So I think if you're employing someone with schizophrenia I think the first thing to remember is, if you do it right, you are gonna get a very loyal employee. A very very loyal employee. A very creative employee. Not always but I think the rule is, you'll get a loyal and creative employee, because you've given them a chance. You've given them some hope. You've given them the ability to use their creative skills. Most people with mental illness, or mental health condition, however you wanna phrase it, are very creative and have a lot of energy. If you, as an employer give that person the space to invest that energy and invest that focus and invest that passion then you're gonna be onto a winner. Look at some of the most successful people in society, a lot of them have experience of mental illness. That's what you're getting when you're an employer. I think practical stuff though, I think being open is so important. Being open with your employer and not sort of hiding away from it just saying, okay, really pleased you've felt able to disclose that. How can we support you? 

And sometimes it's as simple as just like, you know, giving them some time out, being flexible with their working hours. You know, particularly if someone's on medication, afternoons are so much better than morning, because of what I spoke about earlier, you’re fighting the chemicals. And a lot of people, you know, work better towards the evening. So being flexible towards that. As I said, being able to talk also remembering that you're not their mental health nurse. So if they need support, encourage them to get that professional support and working with them to get it. You know, 'cause you are not gonna fix 'em overnight. But you've got such, as an employer you've got an opportunity to transform someone's life. You've got an opportunity to be a real change. And you've got an opportunity to just really capture and harness a creative and energetic person. But you need to just be a bit flexible. You need to be a bit understanding that it's not gonna be easy. But the rewards for you as an organisation that I would argue are gonna be quite substantial. It's not really, and you- as an employee it's not always gonna be perfect. But I think it just says a lot about your organisation if you're able to be responsive to someone's acute mental health needs. You'd be responsible if they were in a wheelchair. Be quite clear, if they're in a wheelchair what you'd need to do. And it's not gonna cost you a fortune to be flexible with your working hours to be flexible—and have those conversations beforehand. Have those honest conversations beforehand. Don't be afraid of that. And I think that's really valuable – be human about it.
Work life and psychosis
Psychosis had started for a few people while they were in employment.
 

Lucy’s doctor gave her temporary ‘sick notes’ when she started experiencing psychosis. She found it “stressful” thinking she might have to go back to work, because she felt so unwell, and eventually she handed in her notice.

Lucy’s doctor gave her temporary ‘sick notes’ when she started experiencing psychosis. She found it “stressful” thinking she might have to go back to work, because she felt so unwell, and eventually she handed in her notice.

Age at interview: 22
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 21
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And in terms of kind of like work? How did they kind of respond? Because obviously you were working full time, you said?

Yeah. They were really, really good mostly, I think. I would - My doctor kept signing me off for two weeks at a time, and at the time I thought it wasn't that serious, so maybe - you know - every two weeks I would be able to go back. But I think that lasted for three months, with every week or two the GP going "Okay, let's just give it another week and see how you are." And I think work were getting quite frustrated, because you can't just lose an employee for that amount of time and not have some - not know whether you need to get someone to cover her, or. So they would kind of ask me, "Oh, well how long do you think it's going to be?" And then they'd start saying things like "Oh, so do they think this is going to help your recovery then, being off for this long?" And I would say "Well no, it's not that it's for my recovery, it's that I would physically not be able to do anything. Like if I had to come to work today, I could come but I wouldn't be able to think enough, or talk to a client, because I just wouldn't be able to deal with it." And that - And so every kind of couple of days when I knew it was coming up, that I had to go to a doctor and get a sick note, and then talk to work about it, I would get really, really stressed, and really, really worried. And that's why I quit my job in the end, because I just thought I can't deal with like the constantly thinking about it, and wondering how they're doing without me, and. 

Yeah. And kind of almost needing to show to the doctor that I wasn't well enough to go back to work, when actually looking back it was obvious to any person that saw me that I wasn't ready. But in my head, I was always panicking that they were going to go, "No, no - you should be back at work now, just go and do it." Because I knew I couldn't handle it.
Those who were working when they had their first psychotic experience often didn’t feel able, or want, to return to their workplace. However, others, like Becky and Lucy, eventually returned to work when their psychosis passed.
 

For Dominic, who was working during a bad psychotic experience, going back to work is daunting. He plans to do some peer work as a volunteer to gain confidence again.

For Dominic, who was working during a bad psychotic experience, going back to work is daunting. He plans to do some peer work as a volunteer to gain confidence again.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Obviously I was at work when it all went wrong. I was actually at work at the time. And because of that, I have a massive stigma around work. Luckily, I'm actually not allowed to work, I wasn't allowed to work for a while, because I was just too dangerous. 

I was a volatile person. But now there's like a big stigma around it in my head, where if I go to work-, because if I go to work it's gonna, it's gonna be into something I wanna do and what if I fail? But it's not just a basic, what if I fail it's imagining every possibility of failure. And each one seems more likely than the last and it's terrifying. But the way I'm handling that is volunteering. I’m starting very soon when I'm gonna be helping other mental health experiences with just day to day life, getting out and socialising and helping them become a bit more productive and more confident. I am so excited about that. Also, also very scared, because even that I could fail at, and this is sort of my test run. If I can do this, all the pressures is just gonna be- then maybe work is, isn’t an impossibility any more, you know. But what I would say in terms of how it affects, how psychosis affects me, it's okay.
Having a psychotic experience was a life changing moment for some people which led them to a career change. Luke’s first psychotic experience happened two weeks into his first job with a global professional services organisation and he hasn’t been able to return to full time employment. Although he used to think that type of job was “everything he wanted in life” he’s now changed his priorities and is “not too bothered about it”. A few people found that the experience had made them rethink their plans for the future, often in a positive way.
 

Joseph chose to leave his profession as a chef and has retrained as a gardener. He talks about the benefits of having a less stressful job.

Text only
Read below

Joseph chose to leave his profession as a chef and has retrained as a gardener. He talks about the benefits of having a less stressful job.

Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And something I'd say probably to most people, but specifically to chefs, is that if you've either burned out, or want to - just a change from the kitchen - gardening was absolutely amazing for me. Because it's similar enough to cooking, in the sense it's very hands-on. It's - Some of it is working with food still, and growing food. It's, yeah. But then it's a very - quite therapeutic. And whereas in the kitchen you've got to get so many plates out in a certain amount of time, with the gardening - so you're sort of re-landscaping someone's house, or just - yeah, doing the general maintenance, things can take months to grow. And it's - you've got that time. And another thing I'd say is that I don't lose sleep over cutting a tree slightly wrong, or - just when I go to bed, I don't think about that. Whereas in the kitchen there's a serious chance you could poison someone if you haven't dealt with it correctly, or a bad review. I'm not saying 'oh, you should do gardening instead of cheffing'. I think it's a great career still, but certainly if you - if you do burn out due to it, then something like gardening is similar enough. And for me, it's just a temporary thing. So it's been great, yeah.
Finding new work, stigma and discrimination
Finding employment after, or in the context of ongoing psychotic experiences, could be challenging. Some people experienced a long and difficult processes applying for jobs. Joe put in fifty applications before he finally got his job as a care worker. Some people had been given help. Green Lettuce had support from his “advisor” when he was looking for a job in the IT sector. Although he has spent “loads of time looking” he says there isn’t much in his area and he has now decided to set himself up as self-employed web designer.
 

Dominic receives help from his council’s Employment Support team and describes what they are able to do.

Dominic receives help from his council’s Employment Support team and describes what they are able to do.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I also get help from Employment Support which is, it used to be called City Limits, which was like an, it's basically for people like me who are terrified of the working world. Don't know what to say, what to do. They'll sit [mic crackles] down with you and they'll break down every fear you have about working, every fear you have about that, whatever aspect of work you are trying to get into. And then say, right, now, I've heard this before. Not your exact story, but I've heard something similar to this. This worked for these people so why don't we try that one. I'll come with ya and we'll go together, we'll do it together. If you don't like it, we'll stop. We'll find something else to do. And they, they are the ones that convinced me to do the volunteering, which I'm gonna be doing soon. They, they went with me to the volunteering place to actually be signed up and they did the application form with me. They, they were just there the whole step and when I, when I finished my volunteering, when I'm doing volunteering, they're gonna be there the whole time if I want to take it to the next step, they'll help with that. They, they're willing to help me find a career. I mean, sometimes they can even find funding for your training and stuff, which is a spectacular.
Some people spoke about stigma and discrimination that exists against people who experience difficulties due to mental health experiences.
 

Emily had bad experiences working in a hotel, shop and bank, where people didn’t understand her mental health needs. She says she would like to work in mental health, where she would be around people who understand.

Emily had bad experiences working in a hotel, shop and bank, where people didn’t understand her mental health needs. She says she would like to work in mental health, where she would be around people who understand.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 21
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
No, haven't worked since I worked in that shop. I tried to work in a bank, but again, they were, they were terrible. They had no idea. I just lasted four days. One of the managers kept picking on me for things. Basically, they were trying to make me leave like choose to leave rather than them trying to get rid of me. So in the end, I was just, I thought, I'm not, I’m not gonna fight it. My mum wanted to fight them and you know, this isn't right. But I was just, I'd just had enough. So since then, I've done some volunteering, but I haven't done any paid work.

And do you think the future with work how would you go about managing that, so would, would you talk about your mental health to the people that were employing you or working with you?

Yeah, definitely. I would always explain it now, because then at least they know and then if, I mean, you can tell how they respond and whether you want to work there or not if you say you've got mental health problems and they go, okay, you know, we can do this to help you and that then it's fine. If they sort of go, oh well, you know, what sort of problems and they don't really understand that you know it's probably not the best place for you to work. But ideally, I would like to work in mental health myself, because then, you know, you are around people who understand it and they are not gonna go, you were off sick yesterday.
Tariq feels that the Disability Discrimination Act is “ineffective” for people with mental health experiences. He says that being turned down for a job involving working with members of the public because of your mental health history is discrimination. Ruby applied to be a teaching assistant in a special needs school but when she missed the occupational health assessment because she was unwell she was told: ‘you are clearly not reliable so I am going to say that you are not fit for work’.
 

Tariq thinks racial discrimination gets more recognition than mental health discrimination.

Text only
Read below

Tariq thinks racial discrimination gets more recognition than mental health discrimination.

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 18
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
But the thing is that if I were to say excuse me I’m not going to take you because you’re a white person or you’re a black person that’s the, you know, they’ll be a, a racist case going on, there’ll be legal disputes out there but if you say, “Oh you’ve got a mental health difficulty,” who’s going to recognise that? If you go out to people in society, society is so ignorant society will go, “Oh they didn’t deserve the job, they’ve got a mental health difficulty,” that’s how negatively people see, portray mental health and, you know, race discrimination is recognised and there’s so much huff puff about it but when it comes to discrimination against mental health patients it’s not recognised. That’s why when you talk about it people are like, “Huh that’s, you know, why you talking about that, that’s not even important.” You know why it’s not important because it’s not recognised. When something is not recognised it’s not important. Racism is important because it’s something we recognise and people always throw allegations of racism. It’s easy to do that, it’s easy to say, you know, I’m a black person so I’m a victim of racism. But if you say I’m a mental health patient people say that’s even worse because you can’t think straight, you don’t know what you’re talking about etcetera etcetera. So I think that this discrimination, Race Relations Act protects people from race, disability protects people with physical disability.
Talking about psychosis at work
When people found a job, there could be a difficult decision about whether and how to discuss their mental health with their new employer. Whether or not an employer knew about the person’s mental health experience and how they responded to it was critical in shaping people’s experiences of work.

Some people found it difficult to let others at work know just how unwell they felt because there were no obvious outward signs that they were unwell. Luke says mental health is “something that’s invisible” and Sameeha believes people think “you don’t look it, so how could you possibly be ill”. Luke thinks there is a general belief that if someone’s broken their leg and has to work from home for three weeks, it's fine. But if he can't get out of bed in the morning because he’s depressed, people don’t consider that to be a justifiable reason.
 

Working by herself in a hotel in housekeeping was fine for Emily but when she was asked to work on reception she worried about being able to concentrate because of her voices. When she took time off her co-workers thought she was just being lazy.

Working by herself in a hotel in housekeeping was fine for Emily but when she was asked to work on reception she worried about being able to concentrate because of her voices. When she took time off her co-workers thought she was just being lazy.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 21
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Yeah, I mean I worked at a hotel for a long time, working in housekeeping. That wasn't too bad, because you were by yourself, doing rooms. You didn't have any interaction with like the people staying there or didn't have much interaction with the other staff. So that was fine. And I could put the radio on in the room. But then I started working on reception and that's when it was like, I had to answer the phone and I'm thinking, oh my god, how am I gonna hear what someone's saying or listen to them or be able to talk to them if I've got voices going on in my head. So I'd get distracted and I'd make mistakes and I'd stop or like be ill and I wouldn't come in for a couple of weeks. And people just thought, just couldn't be bothered. They thought I was being lazy. And they always just sort of gave you that look like, you know, you’re just weird sort of thing. And I remember my, the manager was awful. She used to say to me, if I put something on Facebook like, I don't know, I'm sat in my room watching Disney films, she'd go like, ‘oh, so you’re not coming in tomorrow then, 'cos you are depressed’. And then I'd be like, no. And then I'd get to work and she would have actually got someone in to cover my shift, thinking I wouldn't turn up. But I did. So she’d just send me home and in the end I just thought, you know what, I can't do it any more. And then like I didn't work for a little while. 
But those who had told their employer about their psychosis, found that they had been very understanding, which made it easier when they needed to take time off for therapy, treatment, or because they felt unwell.
 

Joe told someone at work who he liked that he hears voices, and they made sure support was available while he was on his shifts in a cancer care unit. He thinks it’s good to be “brutally honest” rather than letting them find out some other way.

Joe told someone at work who he liked that he hears voices, and they made sure support was available while he was on his shifts in a cancer care unit. He thinks it’s good to be “brutally honest” rather than letting them find out some other way.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
How did you let them know about the experiences you'd had?

Just told them.

So, verbally?

Yeah. I just 

At the beginning, or?

Yeah, I went and spoke to someone, because - Again, it's - If [sigh]. And this – I, and I realise the irony of this word, this does sound a bit paranoid. Saying if you - if you go into a job and say "I hear voices sometimes, I might have to take a day off with it occasionally," 

Right.

People are going to probably have a lot less of a problem with it, than if like someone finds out from something you've put on the internet – 

Okay. 

And say - and the rumour goes round the office and everyone says [whispering – “Did you hear about [so and so]?”]. Yeah. And, which I think possibly people are - might do, so.

Yeah. Although, yeah, they say - well, a lot of people hear voices [laugh].

Yeah. 

But, yeah.

But you know, people hate - people hate about other people the things they see in themselves, so.

Right, okay. So, did you tell HR then, or? I mean, did you do it in a formal kind of way?

No, I just did it - went and told someone.

A manager or someone?

Yeah, someone I actually liked and trusted. And said "Okay, well -." And the same thing happened with the current job. I told someone, and they said "Okay, well these people need to know, because there need to be these people on the shift at one time." Yeah.

Yeah. Okay. Cool. So is that something you'd advise to other people? That it's worth letting your work know, and?

I think if you can deal with the fact that people know. I think one of the biggest problems with this is people somehow feel ashamed. I think it's with every medical condition, not just mental stuff. People think they're going to be - people think people [sigh] - People think other people are going to think they're weaker for it. When literally everyone on earth has something. And – If, if you, if you can get to a place in your own head where you can deal with people knowing, honesty is the best policy I think. Because if you are - like me - quite aggressively brutally honest about it, then people are not going to think it's as weird as TV would have them believe.
 

Although her EIP worker advised her not to tell her employer about her experiences, Hannah wrote her diagnosis and medication on her medical questionnaire. Her managers were very supportive.

Although her EIP worker advised her not to tell her employer about her experiences, Hannah wrote her diagnosis and medication on her medical questionnaire. Her managers were very supportive.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 15
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I have only had a job for part time weekend job for a year and a half. I think I have experienced psychosis at work. But they're aware of it. So I feel like it's a comfortable space so I can have time off if I need it. I can tell them that I, I need to leave. 

That's amazing. How did you kind of go—people listening to all of it looking at the website might be worried about, do I tell work or how do I tell them.

Oh yeah. That's really interesting, because when I was speaking to my care coordinator with EIP they actually told me not to tell them. I was like, what do you mean? I have to tell them. What if something happens and then they let, they say I can't keep my job, 'cause they don't know what's happening. But they said, the stigma is still there. So you wouldn't want them to think that you're incapable so I can understand why people would be reluctant to tell people. But I think it was a good choice to tell them. So, I think, I got given a medical form, medical questionnaire and you have to put down if you have any conditions or anything or medication. So I just put, popped it down on there and so I didn't really talk to them too much about it. 

And that just went on your file. And did anybody at work raise it or ask you, you know, about it?

Yeah, I got pulled aside by my manager to talk about it and they were just really great. Said, if there's anything they can do let them know. They are there to support me and they wanna make sure I'm okay.

And how much info did you put on that sheet. So did you put a lot or did you just say, psychosis. 

Yeah, I just put psychosis and depression and medication that I'm on. 

Okay. Well done you. Do sort of colleagues and friends at work, do they know about it or was it just the management that you told?

Just the management, yeah.
 

Having a good relationship with your manager and not having to hide how you are feeling was important for Becky. She works full time and if she needs to take time off for therapy she knows no one is going to “judge” her.

Having a good relationship with your manager and not having to hide how you are feeling was important for Becky. She works full time and if she needs to take time off for therapy she knows no one is going to “judge” her.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 20
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Because you're working full time now, yeah. Have they been quite understanding. 

Yes, completely,

Has that been—do you think it's important to be working as well?

I do think it is. I had a couple of months off. And, it's not helpful to sit. You've got more time to yourself. More time to try and get through the day and you end up just counting the minutes until you can go to bed again. It's no life. My manager and all of my sort of colleagues have been absolutely amazing and I really couldn't have asked for any more. But it's so important to have that understanding like if I need time off for therapy, I can have it. And I don’t have to feel like I have to hide who I am, because they can see it and they understand it. It is so helpful. If I want to go and cry at work, no-one's gonna judge me for it. They are not gonna think any less of me. 'Cause we all have bad times. And I think that's important like, you never know what somebody else is going through, so you've just gotta be, that's just kind, just in case somebody is having a bad day. 
Some mentioned that work colleagues were supportive in other ways, or shared their own experiences of psychosis. This could be positive. When Ruby had her first experience she was working during her gap year. Her manager who had a “major depressive disorder” herself gave her support and found her somewhere to live when she couldn’t live at home. But Lucy found it unhelpful when someone she worked with who had had mild depression tried to give her advice such as taking St John’s Wort “she couldn’t quite understand… our experience was so different”.
 

Lucy describes a colleague at work helping her to go to her GP when she was experiencing psychosis and having suicidal thoughts.

Lucy describes a colleague at work helping her to go to her GP when she was experiencing psychosis and having suicidal thoughts.

Age at interview: 22
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 21
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
You know, working at quite a high-paced stressful job and doing fine. And intelligent and stuff. And then overnight it seemed to other people, I just kind of lost it. I think I had no kind of perception of what, how - what I was saying, how it was going to affect other people. So I would say things, like horrible things that I'd think in my head. Normally you would never say that to other people. But I just saying anything, because I just didn't know that it would upset them.

So at what point did you think about kind of getting help from somewhere, or support?

In June, one of my colleagues took me to the GP. Kind of forced me into it, like they kind of stood outside until I went. And [laugh] made me sign all the forms and stuff [um], to register with one. And then the GP - at first, I kind of said, "Oh, I think I've got a problem with like low moods and suicidal thoughts." And then it was months before I got any kind of idea that it might be psychosis. I think July I got, was put on antipsychotic medication. So it was quite a while of just kind of them thinking 'oh, it's just a standard case of depression, we'll just give her antidepressants and she'll be fine within a few months of having it'.
Volunteering
Many people had volunteered as peer support workers and mentors for charities and mental health service providers. Fran works in a centre where they train mental health staff and Tariq volunteers at his local hospital where he “befriends” people who are unwell. Andrew Z volunteers with the EIP team that supports him with his own mental health at the local hospital and is helping to set up a mentoring scheme. Barry said volunteering had many benefits: gaining new skills, getting a reference for future work, and it could provide opportunities to make new friends.
 

Although he has no formal qualifications Tariq has been a trustee for over twenty charities. He works hard and feels he’s achieved a lot. He feels it has given him the kind of experience that professionals have.

Text only
Read below

Although he has no formal qualifications Tariq has been a trustee for over twenty charities. He works hard and feels he’s achieved a lot. He feels it has given him the kind of experience that professionals have.

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 18
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I do a lot of work in my community, I’ve been a charity trustee for over twenty different charities, since the age of 16, 17, since the age of 17 I’ve been quite active, been a trustee, been a, I’ve sat on many management committees and I’ve gained the experience as most professionals do in the outside world when they sit, get involved in major decision-making and I’ve experienced all that. and I’ve done quite a lot and I feel that I’ve achieved quite a lot because I’ve been able to bring myself to such a position that when I, when I actually sit down with my university friends, who studied at private schools, you know, I feel far more intelligent than them because in my spare time when they’re out with their friends I’m reading, I’m studying, I’m working as hard because I know that because of my background, because I didn’t get any GCSEs I need to work as hard. If I don’t then people, when I go to the world of work people will laugh at me, they’re going to say, you know, you’ve got no GCSEs, you’ve got no formal real qualifications why should we take you on? So I want to work as hard, so far I feel I’ve achieved a lot.
donate
Previous Page
Next Page