Hi, my name is Chris. I have diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia and I have been residing on the Brookhaven unit for 10 months now.
I started experiencing psychotic symptoms when I was 21 years old. I was hearing voices and having hallucinations like seeing aliens. I also started taking drugs when I was 14 years old and I tried heroin for the first time when I was 18. Since then, I was addicted to substances and was involved with drug teams. I managed to stay clean for about 12 months and I was on methadone at the time. However, I struggled to cope with my psychotic symptoms which led me back to drugs.
I was first admitted to a mental health hospital in 1997 for approximately one year.
In 2001 I resided in a halfway house for 12 months and then moved into my own flat and lived there for 10 years. However, I continued to experience psychotic symptoms and abused substances which again led to another hospital admission. Since 2014 I have been admitted to several different mental health hospitals and in April 2020 I was admitted to Brookhaven.
My time at Brookhaven
I have been clean for nearly 6 years and I experience no cravings. I think that Brookhaven is nice and quiet compared to my other placements. This helps me with my mood and I’ve noticed that my mood picked up since being on Brookhaven.
I think the staff on Brookhaven are lovely, supportive, helpful, good and friendly. I found that some staff on other units (elsewhere) were hostile which I did not find here. I have my weekly planner and I engage with OT every week. This gives me ideas of things I can do and keeps me occupied. I engage in activities such as cooking, baking, walks and group shopping. I also started my therapeutic earning job which is valeting. I never struggle with my ADLs but having the opportunity to cook, bake, clean, valet further improved those skills.
I believe that my mental health has slightly improved, although I continue to hear voices and find it difficult sometimes to approach staff to speak about my worries. Overall, I believe that I am a lot more stable and I am proud of myself for the progress I’ve made. I completed many psychological therapies in previous placement such as Psychoeducation, Mindfulness, Self-esteem, Drugs and Alcohol, DBT and Assertiveness. I found those helpful and beneficial and I continue to engage with psychology on Brookhaven who helps me with my anxieties around community leave, to maintain my strategies and to support me in achieving my future goals.
I also have my MDT meeting once a month where I can voice my wishes and concerns. I always try to attend each one. I have recently been placed on Stage 4 medication where I am required to be in charge on my medication. I am doing fine so far with this. However, staff are always there to support me if I struggle.
How the pandemic has affected me and my mental health
Since the pandemic and several lockdowns, I found my motivation and mood to decrease. I was not able to see my father and I worried about his health. I was not able to do things I did before, and this further affected my motivation. However, staff on Brookhaven continue to offer me support and reassurance. I actually was able to go shopping once a week and I was offered a variety of activities on the unit. I was also allowed to continue with my therapeutic earnings. I also had the opportunity to speak to my dad during a window visit. This was very nice as I was able to see my dad during the Christmas period and gave him his presents.
Finally, staff on Brookhaven take great precautions to ensure the unit is safe and clean to avoid possible infections.
My future plans
Once I am discharged form Brookhaven, I am hoping to get my own place in the Blackburn area. I would also like to get a volunteer job, preferably with animals.
I am hoping to develop my routine and settle in my new place. I would like to live somewhere near my dad’s so we can support each other. I am hoping I will be able to cope in the community and I will ensure I am using all my skills that I have learnt and maintained over the years.
I am a little anxious and overwhelmed with all the things I have to sort out before my discharge. However, staff on Brookhaven are going to support me with finding accommodation, purchasing furniture and do the necessary bits and bobs. This reassures me and I am looking forward to my future and becoming fully independent.
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