S K Y E


THE SECRET SCHIZOPHRENIC

mha-dani said: Hi, I run a blog called mental-health-advice. We help with every mental health related issues like self harm, eating disorders or relationship, gender and sexuality issues. We created a live chat and have dozens of pages. It would really really mean the world to us if you could follow/post this for your followers, so we can help even more people. But, make sure that if you do follow, it is on mental-health-advice rather than this (my admin blog) Thanks in advance, Dani :)

Sounds great, Dani :) This reply should make your comment go on my blog page. Keep up the good work!

A memory that haunts me

This has been on my mind today, as it is on most days, and I thought I’d share it with you so you can get a snapshot of how it can be on the psych ward. I was a sectioned patient, on a section 2 because I was going to sacrifice myself and would not agree to an admission. I write this as if I was there at this moment.

If you are easily triggered having been in a psych ward and having bad memories, you might want to give this a miss. 

I feel worried and frightened. I am concerned that the hospital has a higher authority that are spying on all of the patients. There are cameras everywhere, in our rooms and in our corridors. I cannot trust the staff because they are either in on it, or have been brainwashed by the higher powers. They want to keep us here to watch us and control us. I need to escape and the only way is over the fence in the garden. I walk out of my room trying not to look suspicious, my head down to avoid any gazes or things that might brainwash me into staying in the hospital. I go outside and hide behind a bush and reach up to try and pull myself over the fence. Someone spots me and tells me to stop - I try harder. Suddenly alarms are going off behind me indoors and I can hear the jangle of many keys banging against the legs of nurses and support workers as they run. A few surround me, I try harder to pull myself up shouting “you don’t know me, I don’t know you” and they ask me to come down and I ignore them until I realise I am not strong enough to pull myself over. I run out of the bushes but I am caught - I have 2 people on either arm and someone picks up my legs until someone says “leave her legs, she can walk”. I struggle to get out of the grip and ask them to leave me alone. I am marched inside, the alarms still repeating over and over. As I struggle to get out of the grip of 2 fully grown men, they just grasp me harder and it hurts. As I continue struggling they bend my wrists back and it hurts like hell so I stop struggling. They march me into my bedroom - the alarms are off now. There are many people in my room as they sit me on my bed, still arms restrained by 2 men. I struggle but they pull me down. At the door appears more people and I notice someone has a sick bowl and I know that there is an injection there. A nurse comes in - “right, are you going to take these tablets or would you like an injection?” I tell them there is a camera in the pills and they say they isn’t. I bite the olanzapine meltlet in half just to check. I am frightened because there is an injection right there and I know they are going to hold me down and it’s going to hurt. So I take the tablet. After a few minutes they release me and I sit there obediently because I don’t know what to do. Everyone leaves and I am alone. There is mud all over my floor from the outdoors. I do not know what to do and my arms hurt. They then leave me for the rest of the day aside someone opening my door every 15 minutes to check I am still there. I am alone and still paranoid. 

That’s the end of the memory. I have several questions: why did no one stay with me afterwards to calm me down and why is it all about medication and not holistic care? Why did they surround me when they knew I was paranoid - would one person calmly talking to me not have been better? Why did they have to bend my wrists back because it hurt like hell? How can you give an ultimatum to someone who is clearly very unwell and paranoid and not thinking straight? 

I leave these questions with you and invite you to consider any more that have arisen for you. 

This was just a snapshot and I have many other memories. This is the first for now.

Take care, Skye.

Suicide and Robin Williams

I’m not really sure how to begin this but I wanted to write something about Robin Williams and suicide. Please, if you are easily triggered, do not read this.

I’ll just go straight into it…

I think the speculation around Robin William’s death is interesting, but I will say this: sometimes we can never truly know what is going on in someone’s mind. I’ll use a example - I know this is about physical health but I think it is parallel. At work I have slowly come to know that almost every person I have met there has some sort of physical problem, from diabetes to blood problems. I went into the office thinking I would be the only one struggling with a long term health problem. Every one of us has some sort of battle, be it with physical or mental problems, and it’s not until someone talks out that you realise it. It could be absolutely anything. 

With suicide there are always the inevitable questions, unless it has been explained in a suicide letter. Why did it happen? Could we have done anything else to help? etc. But in some cases, there may not be obvious reasons and it could be anything. For instance, suicide isn’t always just because you’re depressed. There are times in my life when I have been suicidal but not because I felt desperately low. In times of psychosis I have considered suicide for other reasons, for example at one point nearing new year I thought the world was going to end in the next year in a giant war between machines, aliens and humans. I didn’t want to end up involved in that so I thought it best to end my life and not have to go through the fear of this. Obviously looking back I was delusional. There was another point where I was non-emotional and couldn’t express sadness or joy very well. I was a loner and thought that God wanted me to explain things to do the world. I felt alone and that no one understood me and after being sectioned for this I felt there was no hope. So it’s not always obvious. 

I also wanted to express my thoughts about this ‘suicide is selfish’ comment. If you think about it, one of our prime aims in life is to stay alive. Having to die scares us all. So in a way, commiting suicide goes against this instinct. In a way it is brave. I think this might be a controversial opinion and I’m definitely not advocating suicide. But I do think it is definitely not as cowardly as some people think. 

If you’re thinking of commiting suicide it is an awful place to be. Everything feels desperate, you try and get on with your life but in the back of your mind is that nagging feeling and you may even have those nagging plans. My advice is to try and find something to live for. In my darkest moments I have tried to latch onto something no matter how hard it was. At one point I was living solely for my mother because I knew that leaving her behind would destroy her. Contemplating suicide is difficult because on the one hand it’s about how you feel and on the other hand its about how others will feel. You end up feeling selfish, alone and guilty. It really is the worst limbo.

Of course there are hotlines to call. Unfortunately when I rung Samaritans I had a very unhelpful woman who eventually told me she had to put down the phone because she had other people to speak to. But you might not get someone like this. I’d say give them a ring, it’s good to get things out. 

Push for your treatment. I know that waiting lists are terrible and mental health cuts are happening, but try and invest in yourself. I know this is hard if for example you are depressed and feel worthless. But I can say to you that if you can get that talking going, it will help a whole lot.

I would also say - do what I’ve done and join the mental health twitter community. I can be honest on my twitter account about how I’m feeling, under an anonymous name. People have been unbelievably supportive and helpful and I am so glad I did this. Join support groups online or on facebook and KEEP TALKING.

This is a little bit rushed but I had to put forward some opinions on this topic. Hang on. Just hang on. You’ll make it through.

Take care, Skye.

Anonymous said: Hi Skye, I'd like to contact you privately about stigma research - how can I get you my email address without it popping up on the Tumblr? Thanks!

Ooh um I’m not sure. Direct message me on twitter? @secretschizo

Anonymous said: I'm a psych student and my third year project is focusing on psychosis stigmas. Anyway, its safe to say i find schizophrenia interesting...Ive seen mixed studies on the role of genetic/environment in the development of schiz... what i wanted to ask is do you have other family remembers with psychiatric problems that could have been passed down to you? also - any environmental triggers such as being premature/hypoxia/cannabis use? i understand if you dont want to answer these if they are 2 prsnl

Hi there. I can’t be too open about this topic in public but I’ll say all I can. I was not premature and I’ve never done drugs. They think my illness was triggered by stress. I have a distant relative with schizophrenia but the only other stuff in my family is depression. Hope that helps?

The meds dilemma

This post is to do with ‘the meds dilemma’, by which I mean all the dilemmas that come with being on psychiatric medicine, especially anti-psychotics. There a lot of things that we as patients struggle with, which I’m sure directly affects others like friends and family, but especially the patient.

Probably one of the biggest things is knowingly taking medication that causes side effects. This is such a difficult issue. For example, I myself have experienced all sorts including: weight gain, tiredness, muscle stiffness, hand shaking, bad hand co-ordination, drooling, akithisia, lethargy, concentration issues, memory issues, constipation and increased hunger. Who would want that? Who would knowingly continue medication with such awful effects? Why should you have to put up with that? Well, to keep well mentally.

The horrible dilemma is that even though you may have many side effects, you may actually have been improved mentally. So the dilemma is: do you stay on something that is frustrating you physically, or risk going back to a state where you could end up frightened and confused, or even go back to hospital? 

Every time you start a new medication, there is always that frightened sense of: what will this do to me? What side effects will I get? If you are already mentally unstable, the immediate side effects will put you off medication even more. If it is felt that you really need the medication mentally by a medical professional, you may not know this anyway due to lack of insight. Therefore there is double the dilemma. How do you persuade a patient to take something when they may be tired, hungry and irritable from what you just gave them? 

For everyone who has carried on with treatment despite this, and become well mentally, there is still the issue over whether you wish to continue. The guidelines say that anti-psychotics should be used for at least 2 years with one episode, and 5 years for more than one episode (or so this is what I have been told by psychiatrists). At the moment I am 2 and a half years into these 5 years, with 3 years before that on other anti-psychotics. I’m not sure how much more I can take of the weight gain, for example. I’m worried I’m storing up major health problems, I’ve heard I could die earlier and I’ve heard it’s shrinking my brain. I asked my psychiatrist about these and she dispelled them. However, I’m not sure I trust her. Do we really know enough about these medications to be sure? How do I know I won’t die earlier.

The thing is, if I reduce my medication I risk a relapse; but if I stay on it I risk becoming morbidly obese. Can you see the dilemma? 

So next time you are frustrated with someone who is dithering over their medication, know this: the side effects suck and we just don’t know what that is doing long term. 

I am not saying I am anti-medication, by the way. I myself am on clozapine and am not planning on going cold turkey, ever. Nor am I going to reduce myself (I’ve been sectioned for this before a few years ago). But the side effects are getting more and more problematic and my dilemma grows by the day.

Take care, Skye. 

Anonymous said: Hi there! I'm doing an Extended Project Qualification in addition to my A levels and the title of my project is: 'How is mental illness portrayed through literature throughout the years?' and i was wondering if I would be able to use your blog as part of my research? Mainly analysis of your blog name 'the secret schizophrenic' and what you think about the way mental illness is treated? it would be much appriciated as i find your blogs inspiring to those who do suffer, like yourself. Thankyou.

Hi there. Yes of course, as long as you credit me for any quotes you take that is fine. So flattered you find my blog inspiring! :) Good luck with your qualification!

How I cope with work

So if you’ve been following me on twitter and reading my tweets, you’ll know now that I recently entered full time employment. This has been a major achievement for me in a number of ways and I wanted to share how I cope with my job despite some of the issues I still face. I hope this information might be of help for someone, or just an interesting read.

Firstly, when I was searching for a job, I knew that I wanted something that was going to be non-stressful. I wanted a job where I could go to work and then come home and not bring work home with me. As I also recently was a student, I knew that every evening and every weekend spent filled with studies was not doing me any good – it was making me stressed and tired which is a deadly combination for my mental health. Not so long ago, just before I quit being a student, I had started to become paranoid again and was experiencing suspicious beliefs towards some of my tutors there. I knew that this could not continue and the fact that I always have this pattern when I’m stressed and tired made me realise that I cannot have that in my life if I want to live as ‘normally’ as possible and not be scared or frightened about anything. So therefore my job search was for something that I knew I’d be able to do. I eventually found the job I am doing now, which I will not name for anonymity reasons, but it is an office job. It’s not very well paid, nor is it especially interesting, but one I’m trying to get competent at and stick at for a while. I feel like if I can just stick at this for a bit, then I can prove to myself that I am capable of something in life. Of course, this isn’t my dream job nor do I want to do this for a long time, but it’s something.

So how do I keep myself going? There are several things I do to keep on top of myself. Firstly, I get enough rest. As I just mentioned, tiredness for me is very bad for my mental health. Obviously in the mornings I have to be up in time to get to work for 9am, something I never thought I would accomplish. But I’ve proved myself wrong. I take my tablets really early the night before and set more than several alarms on my phone, to make sure that I give myself the best chance for the next morning. I’ve been managing it. Unfortunately some days I am so unbelievably tired in the mornings and have to fight to stay awake, but mainly I manage. The main problem concerning the meds is that they seem to dull my senses, so sometimes I am writing down something someone has asked me to do, but I forget halfway through writing what they’ve just told me. This can be embarrassing because it looks like I’m a bit stupid. I have problems with memory every day. Thankfully my concentration is okay right now, I think this might be out of fear that I don’t want to look like I’m slacking.

Something else that I do is talk to someone every night about how I am feeling. This is mainly my parents or sibling. The problem with me is that I have constant anxiety about everything. I used to have an anxiety disorder, diagnosed when I was 17, and I’m convinced I still have one but I have learnt to cope with it better now. So obviously I have problems with worries about work: things like worrying what people think of me, whether I’m doing okay, whether I’m going to get sacked. I also have problems switching off what I’ve left in the day, things I might not have done quite right or mistakes I’ve made. I obsess over them. This is really not helpful, but I really am trying to talk about things as much as I can to try and rationalise them. I’m quite lucky because at the moment I’m not paranoid about anything, in an ill way. All my concerns are based in reality and I’m hoping it will stay that way. Something else that my parents have helped me with is just to know that if I do ever get sacked or have to leave, it’s really not the end of the world. Yes, it might be humiliating, but at the end of the day no one died and it’s not that much of an issue. I could even leave the job out of my CV if I wanted.

At weekends, I totally switch off. I allow myself massive lie in’s so that I can catch up on the rest I’ve lost that week. I make sure that I remember my medication too, because I know it’s keeping me on that level that I need to function day by day. Some time in the future I’ll probably try reducing again and hopefully that time I won’t relapse. But it’s something that I’ll have to see at the time. For now, I need my medication to keep me this way.

Something else that’s been interesting is that I decided to declare my diagnosis on my health form. I decided in the end it was best to just come clean and after all, why should I be ashamed of an illness that isn’t my fault? Of course, my boss picked this up and we had a short meeting about it. He seemed more intrigued than anything. I was rather nervous about him knowing and whether he’d treat me any differently, but since then he’s been treating me exactly the same. I’ve asking him not to tell anyone else at work and he said that he won’t, which again is really great. I haven’t ‘come out’ to anyone else at work and for now that’s the way it will stay. I like the thought of people finding out in years to come and proving them wrong that it’s not dangerous to work with someone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. For me, I feel like I’m breaking stigma day by day without anyone actually realising except me.

And that’s basically all I can say right now. I might do some more posts in the future once I’ve been in employment a lot longer. But I hope that might have been a help or just an interesting read.

Take care, Skye. 

Paste what you’ve cut

This post concerns the cuts that appear to be taking place in the UK, concerning mental health. I’ve heard that psychiatric wards are being closed, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health service is suffering, and Early Intervention Teams also experiencing a lack of funding. This really is a huge problem.

Not only have we had a problem with huge waiting lists for things like therapy or support, but now the support we need to receive is even less likely to reach all of us. Just because someone’s mental health issues aren’t as severe as the next person, doesn’t mean they should be less likely to receive treatment. I was very lucky when I was referred to the Early Intervention Team as it was deemed necessary for me, and I received help almost immediately, but I have always felt for the people who waited so much longer than me, just because they weren’t classed as severe.

Of course, if someone is very acutely unwell, of course they should receive treatment ASAP. But it seems unfair that those who are classed as doing okay, who do suffer day to day, but are functioning, should have to wait such a long time to receive help.

Unfortunately with funding being cut, this is only going to get worse. But for me the bigger picture is that mental health just isn’t treated as seriously as it should be. 1 in 4 people have a mental health problem. 1 in 4. That’s a very high amount of people who will at some point in their lives need to receive some sort of intervention. Mental health services are so necessary. So why the cuts? Would they ever cut something to do with physical health? That isn’t a rheotrical question by the way, but something that I really wonder.

Of course, returning to the topic of psychiatric wards, being on one of those wards can be absolutely terrifying, traumatising and claustrophobic. But it also provides somewhere for people to go when they are at absolute rock bottom. Whilst a lot of people resent this treatment, a lot of people find it a huge relief. I know I met people on the ward who had severe depression, and to have their responsibilities day-to-day like cooking and cleaning taken away, was such a huge weight off their shoulders. They could relax and take time to focus on themselves and recover. For others without insight, a psychiatric ward can be the best place to keep someone safe. When I was having thoughts that endangered myself, the ward prevented me from carrying out what I thought was correct at the time but actually extremely delusional.

Here is a suggestion from someone who has used mental health services: why not paste what you’ve cut? By that I mean, with the money you save on these reductions to services, please put it towards bettering what is already there. We need so much more training for urgent care services and even better training for nurses and support workers. If we’re reducing the amount of wards, please increase, or at least encourage, mental health nurses to be very good at their job. 

If we’re going to reduce help, increase the competence of what is already there. If you’re going to cut; then paste.

Take care, Skye.

Anonymous said: Hi! My name is Erica and I'm doing an English research paper on schizophrenia and I would love to know more about it. I would love to interview you online for my paper from a perspective of someone who actually has it. It would give my classmates a much better understanding than what I could ever do. Please let me know if this is a possibility. Thanks so much! :)

Hiya :) give me your email address and I’ll be in touch.