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SCHIZO-AFFECTIVE DISORDER:

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

A personal account of a mental health illness with similarities to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

BACKGROUND

* SCHOOL LIFE

* SIXTH FORM

* EARLY ADULT LIFE

* MIDDLE TWENTIES

 

THE ILLNESS

* THE START

* FIRST ADMISSION

* SECOND ADMISSION

* THIRD ADMISSION

* FOURTH ADMISSION

* FIFTH ADMISSION

CONCLUSION

FINAL MESSAGE

OTHER PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

POEM ABOUT DEPRESSION

BACKGROUND

- SCHOOL LIFE

When I was 11 years old I left junior school and went to Kingshurst Comprehensive. I was the only person from my junior school to go to this comprehensive. This was the first stage in my isolation. While at the comprehensive I was never myself and acted the clown in class.

 

On top of this, when I was 11 or 12, my dad found out that my mother was seeing another man who she had met on holiday in Spain. They did not divorce but the atmosphere at home became more and more strained over time.

 

When I was 15 I went on a school trip to France and ended up going out with a girl called Karen. She was 13 and yet far more experienced than me. We had a great time but it did not last. On coming back to school I felt uncomfortable about going out with someone younger than myself.. A week after the French trip I went on a geography field trip in Wales. Almost by accident, I ended up going out with Catherine who I had liked for some time. On returning from the trip I ran into Karen who quite rightly gave me a hard time and made me feel really bad about myself. I carried on going with Catherine for a few weeks but things did not work out and I decided to call things off. I phoned up Karen and told her about it. I hoped we could get together but she did not want to know.

 

Over the next year I became more and more depressed but still managed to get good marks in my exams.

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- SIXTH FORM

When I left Kingshurst Comprehensive, I realised that I was in no fit state to cope on my own. I chose to attend Solihull Sixth Form College to continue my education. Only two others from my comprehensive went there and I did not really get on with them. I did not last very long and I soon changed establishments. I chose to go to Archbishop Grimshaw School where a few of my friends had gone to. Unfortunately, I did not fit in. I think I had changed and had become less friendly.

 

While at Archbishop Grimshaw I took my first overdose but nobody knew about it. When I went to the doctorís I just said I had food poisoning.

 

After one year at Archbishop Grimshaw I quit and went back to Solihull Sixth Form College. Again, I did not fit in and I continually changed classes. In History I met Elizabeth who I really liked. I think she liked me as well but I never had the guts to ask her out. Eventually I gave her a note and she smiled. She left the room and when I saw her downstairs in the common room I ignored her and I didnít know what to say. This put her off.

 

The first year at Solihull Sixth Form College past by and the summer holidays arrived. I spent the time alone at home feeling isolated. I had a big argument with my mother and hit her across the face. At this time, either just before or just after this incident I took my second overdose.

 

While still on holiday I went into Solihull looking for Elizabeth. The first pub I went into was the Saddlerís Arms and she was there with her boyfriend. On seeing me she got up and left. I was in a bad state at this time. Soon after this, I returned to college and handed Elizabeth another note asking her out. She laughed and said no. I lost my temper and poured a cup of tea over her head and we both started shouting at each other. I then left the building. When I returned I was told that I had been expelled. The following day I handed in all my books. On leaving I saw Elizabeth in the common room but didnít say anything. I returned shortly afterwards but she had gone. A few days later t took my third overdose.

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- EARLY ADULT LIFE

For the following four years I was unemployed. I lived at home with my dad. My mother left home and moved in with Sam in a flat in Kingshurst.

 

In some ways this was all a relief to me. A lot of the pressure had been lifted. I had failed but life goes on. I was quite lethargic. I did very little apart from reading and writing poetry.

 

When I was 22 years old I got a job as a clerical assistant at British Telecom and bought my first car, a red Ford Fiesta. I stayed there for about 18 months before I gave it up to work for my brother. He ran an advertising agency that promoted premium telephone lines. He also had his own premium rate telephone business which was promoted by the agency.

 

During this time I spent a lot of time in Solihull town centre hoping to meet someone. The first girl I fell for was called Bonita. I gave her a red rose and then ran away. I did not know what to say to her. I saw her quite often but never spoke to her. I was churning up inside. I spoke to a couple of her friends and they let slip that Bonita worked at a local newsagents. I eventually found out which newsagent this was and paid Bonita a visit. She was not very happy. I left her a poem but this only freaked her out more. Things got worse. I was looking for work and entered an employment agency in Shirley. Bonita was on the reception. I thought it was destiny but she told the staff about me and I was made to feel a little unwelcome. As time went by, I would post letters through the letterbox at the employment agency addressed to Bonita. I felt so isolated and she was the only hope I had or so it seemed. I had to hold onto something.

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- MIDDLE TWENTIES

Eventually, I realised that Bonita was not for me and my attention turned to two other girls. Emma and Claire. I wrote Claire a poem and presented Emma with some red roses. Things slowly got out of hand. I spoke to Claire a few times to ask her out but she said she had a boyfriend. I gave her a book about Frida Kahlo, my favourite artist, but the paintings shocked her and she told her parents who reported me to the police. I was also shocked when the police stopped me, I had the shakes. Soon my reputation spread and some local lads started following me and giving me abuse. At this stage, I took my fourth overdose, my first for over 8 years. Claire knew these local lads and every weekend I would go into Solihull town centre and get abused and then Claire would show up. I was convinced that she like me and that if I only had the courage to talk to her I could sort things out, but I never did. I was on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. At times I gave up on her and tried to go out with Emma but she found out about how I treated Bonita and did not want anything to do with me.

 

While all this was going on I was still working for my brother apart from a 6 month period when I was sacked after an argument. On returning I got involved in setting up some businesses for the company overseas. I spent time in Portugal and then later on in Cyprus. Eventually, my brother decided to sell his business in Cyprus and I was offered a job over there to help run the business and try to set up operations in the Middle East. I arranged a flat in Limassol and flew over to start my new adventure. I was nearly 29. This was my dream job. I was still hoping to sort things out with either Emma or Claire. I was planning out my life hoping to marry the perfect girl and have a great job working abroad. However, I was deluding myself. Things were about to get much worse.

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THE ILLNESS

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- THE START

 While in Cyprus working for Michael at Telemedia I had my 29th birthday. A couple of weeks later I returned to the UK for a week hoping to sort things out with Clare but I never saw her. I came back to Cyprus and fortunately arranged some interviews in the middle-east. As things happened, one guy I met was planning to set up his own business in the United Arab Emirates. I persuaded him that we would be ideal partners. On the telephone he suggested that he visit our operations in the UK and Cyprus. This was the crunch time! I could stay in Cyprus or return to the UK and hope that the UAE business would take off. Things were not going to well in Cyprus. I decided to leave and left the Cyprus operation in a mess and losing money. I hoped that my brother would re-form a partnership with Michael and run the business together in the UAE.

 

When I returned to the UK I had no job. I was waiting for the UAE business to start but I soon realised that this could take some time. On returning, I saw Clare in Solihull with a few boys. It was clear that she was not interested in me. One of my main reasons for returning was the hope of going out with Claire. Slowly my life was falling apart. My home in Monkspath was being rented out so I stayed with my mother and Sam at their flat in Kingshurst. I thought I would be there for a few months. As it turned out I was to stay there for 3 years.

 

While working for my brother and then for Michael in Cyprus I was on a good salary and could afford a house in Monkspath but now I could not get a job that paid more than 10k a year. I was still hoping the UAE business would take off. I started to do temporary work and then got a job as a media administrator at an advertising agency.

 

The start of my breakdown began here. I was working with an Indian girl called Nicky and I told her a little bit about Claire. I started to get paranoid. I thought that she knew Claire and that she was deliberately winding me up. I also thought that both Claire and Nicky had made contact with my mum and were planning a party for my 30th birthday in February. Things with Nicky became too much and I resigned after 8 weeks. I then flew to Cyprus for a holiday.

 

In January I was offered a temporary job at Apricot computers which I was told could lead to a permanent position. I thought Claire had arranged the job for me. While at Apricot computers I was invited to job interviews at BRMB and the Birmingham Evening Mail. I thought that Nicky had arranged these because she felt guilty about me losing my job. I was becoming delusional. I thought that the staff at Apricot computers knew about me and Claire and were planning a surprise birthday party for me at which I would meet Claire. I tried to top this idea and asked if I could fly to Cyprus for my 30th birthday. I was hoping that they could arrange for Claire to come with me. I bought a bunch of red roses and took them to the airport and asked of they could be taken on the plane. The following day at Apricot computers I felt a tense atmosphere. I came to the conclusion that Claire knew someone at the airport and that by taking the roses there I had spoilt the surprise. I was in a panic. I thought that through my stupidity Claire would not urn up. That evening I returned to the airport and picked up the flowers. I took them to Brueton Park and threw them in the bushes. The following day was my 30th birthday. I still hoped that Claire would turn up but no joy. I arrived in Limassol and signed into the Mediterranean Beach Hotel. I still deluded myself. I convinced myself that Claire might be an air stewardess and had come over on another flight. I even imagined that she was staying in the bedroom next to mine. I visited Michael in Nicosia and asked him if he knew Claire. I was still trying to create my dream world, but that was all it was, a dream that was fast turning into a horrific nightmare.

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- FIRST ADMISSION

I came back from Cyprus feeling depressed. My job at Apricot computers had finished and I had not been offered a full-time position. I thought that everyone was angry with me for messing up their plans for my 30th birthday party. I kept on going into Solihull hoping to meet Claire. The idea came into my head that she would re-arrange things for Easter and that maybe we could fly out to Cyprus to celebrate Easter there. The pressure on me was growing, everything was falling apart and I just could not accept it. I spent a couple of weeks on Parade Mailing and then I worked for my brother for a few weeks. Working for my brother was really stressful and I was starting to get messages from the newspapers and the radio. I thought that certain headlines were intended for me. I saw one article about Richard Branson which I thought was encouraging my original thinking and that I had the potential to be a great entrepreneur. I was starting to get illusions of grandeur. I thought that I was an important person and that secret operations took place at Birmingham Business Park which is where Apricot computers were located. I started to think that the government knew about me, that I had telepathic powers, and that I could transmit messages on TV and radio just by thinking thoughts. I imagined that scriptwriters could read my mind and would include my thoughts and ideas in their programmes.

 

On the Wednesday after the Grand National and US Masters I finally cracked. I spent all day in my car driving around in a crazy fashion. I thought that the number plates contained messages for me and that the colour of the car signified whether or not I was safe. I was also getting messages off the radio. I thought that Claire, Emma and Bonita were fighting for my attention by playing different songs on different radio stations. I thought that everyone was forming alliances either to help me or hinder me. I thought that Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson were involved. I drove along the Stratford Road heading for London to see John Major or his representatives. I thought that MI5 and MI6 were onto me and following me around. I reached Henley-in-Arden feeling dizzy not knowing what to do. I drove near to a church just past Henley-in-Arden and stopped the car. I got out of the car and walked over to a green patch of land. I thought I would be safe there. I thought green colours could protect me. After a short time an RSPCA van came by and the woman in the van spoke to me. I was obviously looking distressed. I donít know what I said to her but she evidently decided to call the police in Stratford-upon- Avon. A police car arrived and took me away to the police station. I must have been there about one or two hours. I traded riddles and nursery rhymes with one of the pcís. I thought his stories contained hidden messages but he was just playing for time until the doctor arrived. Someone assessed my condition, I had no idea he was a doctor, people came in and out. Then I was taken outside and led to an ambulance. I pleaded with them to let me go. I thought I was being taken hostage. I thought that the UK and US governments had done a deal with Iraq. I thought that this happened, that mental hospitals were filled with victims of psychological warfare and that if you broke enough rules you could be admitted. I had broken too many rules.

 

I was taken to Central Hospital to be assessed. I thought that I was a victim of psychological warfare. All knowledge of my importance and telepathic powers would be denied. Over time I began to realise that I was indeed ill. I still held onto some of my beliefs. I confided in my mother about Claire and asked here to visit her which she did. She was shocked. Claire told her about me. That she was not interested in me at all and that I followed here everywhere and that she had sold help white Suzuki jeep because of me.

 

I was in hospital for four weeks. When I left I was on anti-psychotics which were very strong and made me feel like a zombie. I went into Solihull in the hope of seeing Claire and confirming the story my mum had told me. I soon realised that a few people in Solihull knew about my illness. I thought that certain people were trying to send me messages. I went into the Raison DíEtre wine bar and Claire was there with here friends. At first she ignored me, then she spoke to her friends who passed a few remarks which were not very nice. Eventually I left. My life was in pieces, I thought it could not get any worse and yet things kept on deteriorating.

 

I started working at Parade Mailing again for two weeks then left to work for my brother but the drugs made this impossible so I stopped taking them. The UAE business was finally up and running and I went over there to help set things up. I did not feel too bad. I went over on two occasions. While back in the UK we got news that the business had been closed down due to the fact that an explicit love horoscope had been promoted on one of the telephone lines. This was catastrophic.

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- SECOND ADMISSION

I was again out of work. I eventually got a job with an internet company but only lasted a few days. On the day I left my dad died. my mother and me found him lying in bed. I think the stress of this led to my second breakdown. This happened on the 19th December 1995. I again believed that Claire was going to meet me over Christmas. I got into such a state that I stayed out all night the day before my dadís funeral in a very bad psychotic state. My mum eventually picked me up but I missed my dadís funeral. I felt ashamed and thought that people would hate me. I still thought that I could sort things out with Clare. I thought that secret societies met in pubs to discuss business matters and industrial espionage.

 

The day after my dadís funeral I was sectioned and taken to Solihull Hospital. I thought I was going to be killed. I stayed there four weeks and was then released.

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- THIRD ADMISSION

Shortly after this, I went to Emmaís house and found out that she had lost all her hair. This was another shock. It seemed that not only was I suffering but those I cared about were hurting to. My 31st birthday arrived and passed, and then on the 21st February 1996 it would have been my dadís birthday. A couple of days later I took my fifth overdose in my life. I was first taken to Heartlands Hospital and then transferred to Solihull hospital where I stayed as a voluntary patient for nearly 6 months. I had no energy, I was very lethargic, and stayed in bed nearly all the time I was there. I only had tuna and cucumber sandwiches for both lunch and dinner and occasionally went downstairs to buy myself some chocolate bars. Also at this time, my dadís home was being emptied and redecorated so that it could be sold. The whole thing passed me by. I did not want to know about it. I could not deal with it. I could not cope with it. I just tried to ignore that fact that it was happening.

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- FOUTH ADMISSION

My mother wanted to move to Cyprus and also thought it important that I find accommodation of my own. Up until now, I was still living with her and Sam. I t was arranged with the local council that if I could sell my house in Monkspath I would be offered council accommodation. In time I agreed the sale of my house. I was discharged from hospital and returned to my mumís until all the paperwork was sorted. I would stay there another 9 months. The house was finally sold in December 1996. In January I was offered a council flat in Chelmsley Wood in a tower block. I turned it down. My mum wrote a letter to the council supported by my consultant suggesting that the accommodation was not suitable. I was offered a second flat in Kingshurst which I accepted. I agreed to move into the flat in April. The stress levels were growing again. This was my worst nightmare. To live in a council flat for the rest of my life, growing old and living alone. I started to get delusional again. I thought that the IRA had planted a bomb under my car. I also tried to prove my telepathic powers. I was determined to watch the Grand National and control the race but it was cancelled due to a bomb scare. I booked my self into The Moat Hotel on Saturday Night feeling very delusional and acting in a bizarre fashion. On the Sunday I drove to Stratford and onward to a Glider Club near Evesham. I told the members there that I thought there was a bomb under my car. They called the police who took me to Evesham police station. They called my mother who took me to Solihull Hospital where I was sectioned. I stayed there two months and was then discharged but I soon stopped taking my medication and quickly became psychotic. I started betting on golf and tennis matches believing I could control the results. When I lost I believed that there were stronger forces working against me. I thought that the Chinese government had dropped a nerve gas over the country and that I was responsible for the death of thousands of people. I thought that people were after me and were trying to trap me. I ran into the back of a red car which I thought was trying to slow me down and was part of the conspiracy. I returned home and took about 8 tablets of olanzapine. I phoned my mum and told her I felt tired. I was taken to Solihull Hospital overnight to be assessed for a potential overdose. I discharged myself the day after but I was still ill.

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- FIFTH ADMISSION

In Decemeber, I locked myself out of my flat and became psychotic. I walked into Chelmsley Wood police station and asked them to take me to a place of safety, possibly to the church near Solihull town centre. I was locked in a cell overnight. In the morning I was seen by my consultant  and later on taken to Solihull hospital by a social worker where I was sectioned again. I was there for 3 months. Over the Christmas period, I was allowed out to go to my brotherís. While I was out I paid three visits to Claireís home asking her parents to help me. I thought that Clareís dad wad high up in the business world and could help me. Eventually he and his son Glenn lost their temper. Glenn threw a couple of punches and I knelt on the ground in submission. I think that finally broke the cycle. I had pushed things as far as they could go. I had few illusions left. I started to realise that the only way I could remain stable was to take my medication regularly.

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CONCLUSION

 I was discharged in March 1998 and I have taken olanzapine on a regular basis ever since. I am now stable and have not been in hospital since. My confidence is slowly building. I have undertaken a few college courses and put together some basic internet sites which help me pass the time. I watch soap operas such as Neighbours and Eastenders, lots of sport, and I listen to radio 5 a lot with its coverage of news and sport.           

 

My next objective is to try and find employment. I have tried a work placement but only lasted a week. My confidence is still a little fragile it seems. Not having a social life and only having one friend can make you feel very unusual. It s difficult relating to other people. The simple routine of working is hard to cope with. The stress levels rise and if you donít have a social life then you cannot relieve the stress and it grows and grows.

 

I hope in time I can come to terms with this. I have accepted a lot of things which before I could not deal with. I thought that if I never marry then life would not be worth living. I still hope that I will meet someone special but only time will tell.

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FINAL MESSAGE

Where there is life there is hope.

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OTHER PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

Cathy's Story

Phil's Story

Bodo's Story

Ian Chovil's Story

MY POETRY

Love Poetry

Gothic Poetry

Surreal Poetry

MENTAL HEALTH SITES

Mental Health In The UK

Schizophrenia Diaries

Mad Not Bad

  THE END (or just the beginningÖ)

if you wish to tell me about your own personal experiences or would like to contact me please send me an email.

email: demonrobber@blueyonder.co.uk