I have written this case study about myself during a moment that I am still in recovery. At present, I am on the cusp of receiving concentrated support through a combination of group therapy and counselling. My other challenge also being just to be myself for a while and building up and around that. A big challenge! I like Einstein´s quote: ´Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value´.
I hope that within 6 months – a year I will have more substantial things to say about my recovery path and what best aided it and what could have been better and what, really, was unnecessary.
I use the term ‘recovery’ in its fullest sense. I have been free of medication and free of symptoms for twelve years now. I have a husband, a home, and four young children – all things that I never thought would be possible at the age of twenty-five when I was given the diagnosis. At that time I accepted what I was told; that the outlook was bleak in the extreme, that I would get worse as I became older and that I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life.
Ros Bentley’s son, James, is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Ros spoke at our Manchester event about James’ sometimes traumatic service experiences, and what improvements she would like to see for James’ care and support.
My son, James developed paranoid delusions 14 years ago. He was initially treated as an outpatient with medication. The delusions disappeared but he steadily deteriorated and when he was finally admitted to hospital, about a year later, he was very agitated and could barely communicate. We were told the prognosis was poor and that he would probably always need secure rehab. If you met him to-day, you might think he had a learning disability. His speech is simplistic, he has difficulty making decisions and problem solving, he sometimes looks unkempt and his mood can change very quickly. But now with a lot of support he is managing to live in his own house and for the past 6 months he has been working in a garden one or two morning a week. He is slowly regaining some self- esteem and confidence, but it’s been a rocky road to get here and we have had to overcome some major obstacles, not least the battles we’ve had with service providers.
The last 14 years have felt like an emotional roller-coaster –trying to cope not only with the turbulence of James’s illness but also with the ups and downs caused by services or the lack of service. We have had 14 different psychiatrists and 24 changes of psychiatrist
My diagnosis of schizophrenia came too late. I had been suffering from symptoms for a
considerable length of time, with family and colleagues observing that I was not well. There
was however, not much that could be done. I’m sure, as with many, if not all people facing
this diagnosis, I was terrified of what it would mean for me personally, therefore I railed against diagnosis.
I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2001 while I was in prison for a
period of about 14 months on remand. Then eventually I was transferred to
Ravenswood secure hospital where I was a patient at for the next 4 1/2 years until I
was conditionally discharged and after roughly 2 1/2 years I had been granted an
Because of my illness I have experienced delusions, paranoia and very strong
thoughts of persecution that people wanted to harm me and that certain people were
conspiring to hurt me. Along with this I have experienced very deep depression,
hearing voices and chronic anxiety. I have tried various antipsychotics, antidepressants and sleeping tablets.
For a long while I felt like doctors were just using me as a guinea pig and just trying
different drugs because they didn’t know what to do with me and that they just
generally didn’t know what they were doing.