August 11, 2017

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In 2001, I began to have difficulties with functioning well and had a number of unrealistic thoughts about my social situation, which placed a strain on my friendships with the people in my social group. I also began to worry about my job security, which may or may not have been well-founded. I asked my parents if they could help me and fortunately they were happy to let me come back home and support me. I re-enrolled in my university degree, which I had dropped out of in 1998 and my parents agreed that they would support me while I completed the degree. My thoughts about what was happening became increasingly unrealistic and I had a number of delusions of persecution. This interfered with my understanding of the meaning of social interactions with other people and I said many things that must have appeared very strange. Some of my delusions caused great emotional distress. If I had attempted to resume my studies while in this state, I would have had great difficulty in performing well. 

My parents were concerned and aware that there was a problem but failed to grasp the nature of the problem. People struggling with this kind of issue, would benefit from raised awareness of what kind of problems can arise and when it is well-advised to seek psychiatric treatment. My father later said to me that at the time he had no idea what psychosis was.

Fortunately, a friend who was working towards completing a medical degree had some awareness of what the problem was and eventually suggested that I seek advice from a doctor at the hospital. I had some difficulty in opening up about what was on my mind, but eventually I disclosed enough of my thoughts for the doctor to see that a diagnosis of psychosis was appropriate. Later, I had a consultation with a psychiatrist who recommended medication, which improved the situation very quickly. I received therapy to help me work through my feelings, about what had happened, for a number of months afterwards. I am very satisfied with the quality of the care that I received and, in my case, medication was very effective.

I have encountered some difficulties related to my mental illness. I have experienced unfair discrimination by one employer, who tried to relate his concerns about my performance with my history of mental illness. He used it as an excuse to try to get rid of me, asking if I would agree to a psychiatric evaluation of whether I was medically fit to work.

A lot of the anxiety one goes through, in recovering from an episode of mental illness, is produced by worrying about people having negative feelings about interactions you had with them, at times when you were not thinking realistically. People, who struggle with such problems, could benefit from raised awareness of the nature of mental illness, and the difficulty that people will mental illness may have with understanding the nature of the social situation they are in. If people were more aware that saying strange things may be a product of mental illness, they may be more understanding towards the person and see that it is a result of a condition and not their fault.

I have generally been quite open about my history of mental illness with friends and co-workers and have found that most people are very accepting and understanding. With the exceptions of the incidents mentioned above, I have no complaints about how people treat me.

I believe the main issue to be addressed, is the importance of people learning how to recognise when a friend or relative stands in need of help. For that reason, I believe that raising awareness of the nature of mental illness is the best way to improve outcomes for people with that type of problem. 

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