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Once I was discharged from hospital, I had contact with the Crisis Team daily and then a few times a week to ensure that I was safe in my environment. I had begun to have a little bit of insight into my illness and had finally begun to acknowledge that I had in actual fact been ill. To what extent I had yet to learn. The Crisis Team then discharged me to the Early Intervention Service (EIS) and I was seen by an my Early Intervention worker and her team.

During the first few months of being back in the Community, a lot of adjustments would occur. I had not seen my friends properly for months as I had refused visitors whilst in hospital. The first hurdle was Christmas and Boxing Day. We were to spend this with Miranda and her family. I felt very awkward Christmas Day and did not want to be there. I felt my presence was ruining their day. Miranda had noticed that I was uncomfortable and had suggested we go home if that was what I wanted, so we left earlier than usual at around 5pm. Boxing Day came and I managed to put on a bit more of a front as I wanted to please/not let the family down. We opened presents as Miranda’s son was home and we had dinner together. We played games and the day was a little better than the previous – although I still felt incredibly awkward!

The next hurdle was my birthday outing. I had suggested a visit to McDonalds with our group of 8 friends (plus 3 children) as we had done the year before. Although this was a routine outing, it proved to be very overwhelming for me. My friend Hannah had noticed that I was very quiet and at a later date mentioned this and that I didn’t have to do anything for my birthday – no-one would have been offended if I had cancelled. I explained to her that I had wanted to do it as I needed to test myself.

The next social outing was dinner at my friend Paula’s. I was due to stay over but as I had not long been discharged from hospital, I did not know how I would feel staying away from home so I opted to just go for dinner. I now know I was not as chatty as I would usually be as I did not know what to talk about. Since this occasion, my friend told me that she and her children had noticed that I wasn’t myself and since then my true personality has returned.

The next challenging outing I recall was my friend’s birthday at the end of January. Martin was at work so I went alone to meet everyone at the restaurant. I was quite quiet and felt a bit out of my comfort zone, as essentially I was out with Martin’s friends as opposed to mine. No-one commented on my quietness so I now think that I had some residual paranoia from my illness.

During this time I have continued to see EIS and mentioned that my memory was not what it used to be and that I needed help with the social side of my recovery. I met with a Support, Time and Recovery (STR) worker and we started to action plan to affect this. I commenced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (through my employer) on 6 February 2014 and after my assessment it was recommended that I should have 12 sessions. I learnt that anxiety triggers the amygdala which in turn lowers the IQ which explained why I was so forgetful and why I felt so stupid.

At every stage of my recovery I have felt better and better, and at every stage I have realised just how ill I previously was. I have gone back to Swing Dance (which I stopped doing at age 21) and I am now enjoying hobbies, socialising and listening music. I am back to being a gym bunny with my friend Sam (who has also been a great support to my recovery). By mid to end of April, I felt back to being socially-apt. My medication is currently under review and I have now gone back to work full time after completing an 8 week phased return. My recovery is still ongoing and I will continue to be under the care of Mental Health Services until early 2017.

I hope this has been a useful insight to Psychosis and demonstrates just how scary and debilitating this disorder is.

The EYE Project is a research project supported by:

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Swandean, Arundel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN13 3EP