After many diagnoses as a teenager I was finally diagnosed with Schizophrenia at the age of 21. After 3 stints in various psychiatric hospitals I came to realise I had 3 choices:
It was a tough battle. The meds were just the tip of a huge iceberg but didn’t address my underlying thinking.A decade later I attended New Horizons and attended a course on NLP; the burden of isolation began to lift. I realised how much in common I have with the structure of thinking that we all do, ill or not. “What if I could?” entered my head many times and still does today. I spent 3 years volunteering for the NHS facilitating groups.
Sometimes it’s hard for a person to find an interest but for me, by removing the if’s, ands, or buts I began to cultivate a sense of optimism. I scuba dive partly for the social connection but also because I love fish! And I make sure I put things on a wall planner to look forward to. This keeps my mind inquisitive and thirsty for more. I am now the pilot of my own life as well as the control tower. Schizophrenia is no longer the sum total of my parts. I know I am much more than that and though it isn’t always easy I have a great deal to be grateful for.
I worry that there is a dependency in the therapeutic relationship whereby the client gets relief from the session but defaults back to the same responses once back in the real world. It is important to break that cycle of dependency and encourage independent creative thinking in order for people to explore their potential and consequently become more robust and involved in their environments.
I thought I was useless. And I think service users have beliefs that because they are unwell they will never get to have adventures and a decent quality of life. This is my burning passion. I strongly believe that people with Schizophrenia and other severe conditions have the same right to make something of their life whether it’s volunteering, working or staring at Indian sunsets!
I have found therapeutic/ educational models that suit my own needs and attend training courses for therapists and am continuing to get qualifications in various linguistic based education models and it has been a source of tremendous learning, enjoyment, optimism and hope. In October I went to India alone to attend two training courses and have two more trips to India planned over the next year and a half including one in Hammersmith this March. I engage with Study Groups too and am about to begin training in peer advocacy. I am helping a guy who is who has a phobia of swimming pools in my spare time.
Because one size doesn’t fit all it is imperative that wider options become available, other kinds of support and interventions when appropriate. These alternatives haven’t been known to clients or many professionals and have been difficult to access for those “managing their condition”. My passion is I want to be involved in helping others now. People need independence both in thought and circumstance.
“What if I can do other things too?” They gave me a reference so that I could test my new found resilience and travel alone to volunteer on a small island in the Maldives.