My friends and family supported me after a psychotic episode

Jen blogs about an experience of psychosisSupport from family and friends makes all the difference when you experience mental illness. For me, illness came quickly, seemingly out of the blue, when I was twenty-six.

I was a newly qualified teacher and experienced acute depression followed by a psychotic episode.

I was taken to hospital and placed under a 72 hour section, spending a month in hospital in total.

I couldn’t have got through the experience without family and friends. My brother, who was unwell himself, took me home to my parents when he saw I was getting ill. We shared a very surreal tube journey home during which I told him the people at work were witches and that I needed to be exorcised. He generously nodded and said, ‘ok Jen’.

My parents took me to hospital after a psychotic episode

My parents took me to the local GP and then to hospital, they were there when I raced, terrified, around the hospital ward, and when I came round some three days later and said to my mum, ‘I think I’ve been acting a bit strangely.’ She sat by my bed and hugged me.

My boyfriend sat with me holding my hand while my head was spinning with ridiculous notions and ideas. And my brother came to visit in a wooly hat and scarves to ward off ME and after I’d come round he brought craft materials with him to make a card for his girlfriend. We didn’t talk about where we were or what had happened, we talked about cutting up photos to make the card. I helped him a bit with the photos of sky. Well, maybe ‘helped’ is too generous a word! But discussed it with him none the less.

Hospital was strange but having visitors helped me

Hospital was a strange, unknown place with its own rules and a crowded smoking room. Having visitors helped me keep my spirits up and believe I was going to go home soon. It gave me the strength to engage in some of the groups in the hospital, like the yoga class and the art group, and going to those classes helped me find motivation.

Friends came to visit bringing postcards for me to put on the wall and one friend brought her Fuzzy Bear to cheer me up and remind me of teenage days listening to the Muppets and Fraggle Rock sound tracks on her Walkman while in our GCSE art exam.

Relationships and connections helped me build resilience

It must have been hard for them to come to a strange concrete building and make a visit they didn’t think they’d have to make. For me it meant the world. It meant normal life flowing into a place that was not normal at all. It meant relationships and connections that helped me build resilience.

I found, when I was experiencing a psychotic episode, that I sensed connections between all things, permeating us all. Afterwards, it was the connections between my loved ones that meant so much.

I was in hospital on Valentine’s Day and my boyfriend took me to the hospital canteen…. We had a romantic meal of macaroni cheese and I gave him a card I’d made from old bits of material and a picture I’d drawn of a tree of hearts. I was in a psychiatric ward, but we were continuing with our lives, determined to still share time together.

The support of my loved one's helped me through the experience

I will forever be grateful to all my loved ones who showed me such warmth, generosity and friendship through that time, and have continued to through the times to come.

If a loved one of yours has had to go into hospital, please do go and visit them. Your being there will make all the difference. Don’t be scared of what to say. Say anything. Say nothing. Ask them how they are. Talk about a film you’ve seen recently, or your cats, or the fact that your boiler’s on the blink. It doesn’t matter, just sharing your solidarity at a difficult time: it breathes life into any situation, no matter how hard it seems.

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Comments

Thank you

Thank you for writing and sharing your experience. It's brought back some tough memories and made me cry, but for some reason I feel like it's doing some healing.

jen..

ive just started to look at this site and have read your story first, and i want to cry... thank you for sharing, its a strong thing to do and im not sure i can do the same, or rather spend the time rethinking how things have been for me, but i have shared this site on my facebook page, some people/friends know i have Depression, out of those few they probably think im ok now.. but its ups and downs and at the moment i have slid downwards not as deep as before, i put this on my facebook page............. when we meet its quite common to say "You all right?" as a way of saying hello, then its confusing when the person or friend says "Er no im not..." and you might wish you hadnt asked!! people with depression are likely to say "No im not" but sometimes they may say "Yes" but in a quiet way because they are sick of feeling ill, please be aware your friend might not be alright, if you care for that person, please double check with them if you have the time, because you might just be the person they need to talk to, it could change their day or text them later, a proper hello how are you make can make all the difference... it is time to talk... and your amazing Jen for doing so... xx Jo

Dear Jo, thanks ever so much

Dear Jo, thanks ever so much for your comment and I''m really sorry to hear you're going through ups and downs, I really hope sharing the words you've written on Facebook helps, they're absolutely true, and really important. I've found that writing about experiences and sharing them is a really positive thing to do and helps during times of ups and low points. I really hope that the clouds start to clear soon and that in the meantime you feel you can share with friends, and that doing so helps, Jen

Thank you ever so much for

Thank you ever so much for sharing too, wishing you well, I've found sharing really does help with recovery. Very best wishes, Jen

Thank you too

Yes I have to say, 'Thank you' too. Reading what you've written brings back memories for me too and I cried. I think I had four visits from people in two months. I know what you've written is true because of my lack of visitors... they can make all the difference. :)

relationships and connections

I've also been in hospital following a psychotic episode and like you, grateful for the consistent visits from family members. It was an important key to my recovery. Continued support once discharged from hospital was also key to my recovery and more often than not, it was the little, every day, ordinary things that helped. A shared cup of tea, pizza or a glass of wine, phone call to say hi, a walk in the park... Just knowing loved ones were around was enough to keep me going. You express it perfectly when you talk about resilience being built from relationships and connections. Thank you.

Yes it really is the little

Yes it really is the little things that help isn't it? I really hope your recovery is going well - and that you're still sharing those cups of tea and glasses of wine! Very best wishes, Jen

psychosis

Hi and thanks for sharing your comment. I had my first experience with psychosis this last week and it was horrible. I was terrified and became very suicidal, which is strange considering during my episode I was acutely aware of my own mortality and that was just as scary. If psychosis could be more like a good trip instead of a bad trip it would be ok, but thats not how it works generally. Hang in there and use the internet as support I guess. Chris

psychosis

So sorry to hear you've had an experience with psychosis this week Chris. It really is a terrifying thing to experience, I think you're so strong to have got through it and already be speaking about it and writing out on this website. I really hope time helps (I've really found it has) and that the internet helps as a source of support and information. Sending all very best wishes to you for your recovery - I've found recovery from psychosis to be rich and full, your speaking out here already is an amazing thing, Jenny

jens story

thank you for sharing.i have also been in hospital for weeks at a time and dont think i would be here if it wasnt for family and friends.although some people stayed away due i think to them being scaredd of how to act with someone who is clearly in a black place

a/d/h/d and ortizzom

my son has got a/d/h/d and 2 forms of ortizzam and people dont help us to cope with him he on tables for it but people just keep picking on him at school and in the streets when he gos out to ply we have no help with him there is no places to go with him or to speak to other people with the same problems we have

Depression

I wish I had a support network like yours. Truth is I've ended up in the severe depression I'm experiencing now as a direct result of family in particular not supporting me. And now I'm here they keep at a distance and pass the buck to the professionals. And friends pass the buck to my family. So I stay in the depression, and am gradually getting worse - because a visit from the CMHT every few months just doesn't cut it.

Reply

I'm so sorry that people aren't being more supportive. I really hope that in time your family comes to understand your situation better. I hope that organisations like Time to Change may be able to help by offering a space to speak out. I really hope that your situation starts to get a little easier very soon, Jen

Depression

Hello my love, I'm sorry to hear that you feel so alone, that you feel unsupported by your family friends and your CMHT. While the support of family is valuable it's not the only way out, and if yours can't or won't support you, it doesn't mean you have no hope. You do your future is just as bright and just as important as everyone else! If your CMHT are not providing support in the way that is helping you, you must speak to them. I do understand this is easier said than done, why not take a copy of this blog and show it to your care co ordinator and if you are up to it your family. The least that will do is open up a conversation that will help others understand how dark it is for you, and allow you the chance to tell these important people in your life how you feel. It maybe that people think your coping better than you are? We try hard to help ourselves and sometimes people mistake this as coping. You deserve support and its clear the lack is making things worse, give the important people in your life a chance, they may surprise you, please do this for yourself.

my story

Hi there,your blog has really inspired me to tell my story.Been under the cosh as I call it since 1991.2 deaths in 3mths started the downfall.young man with young family,very caring sensitive soul.i was using recreational drugs & life began spiralling out of control.relationship breakdown&death of my son 10years this year all took there toll.this recent spell as been since Christmas & I cannot get out of it,meds aint doing owt,my opinion.i am angry,envious,jealous,want to hurt myself,thoughts of doing crazy things like robbery & hurting people.i have no love & feel very lonely & isolated.if I had a girlfriend to hug & feel loved I know I would be so different.done all the talking,but it is your head that satan his bashing with his poison.last 2 days,bad news.if you have understanding family,that ig great,i don't.friends.what are they!i have more to add another time if anyone is interested,

Thank you

Thank you for sharing your experience, it's a really brave thing to do. I had a breakdown while on a GTP teacher training program. At the time I had undiagnosed post-traumatic stress, and then I found myself working a 90 hour week. I ended up with amnesia and had to be brought home by my mum (at the time I had no idea why, even though I'd just been told she was coming to get me). Most of my friends still don't know the extent of the mess I was in at the time, it was my family and a few close friends who stood by me and helped me through it. Well done for sharing this and showing people that they are not alone.

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