Testimonies

Peoples' experiences and views on ‘schizophrenia’ or similar labels such as ‘psychosis’.

 

Tell us your story If you have been diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ tell us your story

 

Real knowledge, not another label

Matt

When first diagnosed and placed into the category of being a 'Paranoid Schizophrenic', I was glad that someone had finally shed some light on the distress / experiences I was having. Nobody else had been able to relate to what was happening to me or understand my thought processes before. Initially I took the Doctors’ words as gospel. I saw myself as 'Schizophrenic' and soon developed an identity in both the inner and outer worlds accordingly.

Being labelled schizophrenic didn’t do me any favours

Brian

When I was given the label ‘schizophrenia’ everything was falling apart. I had just had a bereavement that I couldn’t see coming. I lost my dad and I was far far away from home with no relative and no one to talk to about it. I had financial problems at that time and I began to lose everything. I had to stop my studies at University, I went downhill quickly. It was too much for me to take. I ended up homeless and began to go in a new direction that I’d never been in before – drinking, selling drugs to get bits of money just to survive, even smoking marijuana myself.

The whole person, not just the brain

Mohammad Shabbir, CEO, Sharing Voices Bradford

I have personal experiences of living with an uncle who has been in the mental health system for a number of decades, labelled with ‘schizophrenia’. The label covered and hid the underlying problems that he was dealing with as a young migrant to the country, a young man who loved his parents, wanted to become a doctor and be with his friends. He ended up in Bradford, I suspect without much consultation, working in a factory and, as they say up north, ‘grafting’.

Can ‘schizophrenia’ diagnosis be divorced from social contexts?

Raza Griffiths, Service User Campaigner and Trainer

Some years ago, I was in a desperate situation and was rushed off to hospital after I collapsed, unannounced and without appointment, on my doctor's surgery floor. I told her the moon had been talking to me and directing me to do things that were placing my health and wellbeing at risk. This had been going on for some time and I found my feet were running me quickly to my doctor after a particularly frightening incident in which I had a narrow escape.

‘Schizophrenia’ is a social construct

Aloyse Raptopoulos

I believe that the way ‘schizophrenia’ is being diagnosed – and has been for decades – is nothing more than a social construct. Looking back at historical facts (e.g. see how mainstream psychiatry sided with the pre-Nazi Eugenics at the beginning of the 20th century) one can observe how this particular diagnosis is part of a wider social project established to maintain inequalities between people.

Choice and control in wellbeing

Liz J Maitland

I was labelled from the age of 19 when i was attacked and sexually abused by a van-driver and no-one would believe me. They said I was schizophrenic and psychotic but I was the one who was in touch with reality.

I never had any symtoms at all, yet I was drugged up and forced into hospital against my will many times. It would have been much better for me if I had been believed and offered counselling. The professionals and my family's reactions made my state of mind and wellbeing far worse. I was in and out of hospital for the next 23 years.

Our lives, our selves: beyond categories

A survivor

I had my first emotional and mental crisis (my preferred term) in the late 1960s. According to an insider, it took the psychiatrist two or three days to decide whether to give me a diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘manic depression’, settling on manic depression as I appeared to be ‘more responsive’ than I might otherwise be. The psychiatrist told me later he thought he had a ‘case of catatonic schizophrenia’ as I remained completely rigid (like a plank) when asked to bend my knees. (I recall quite clearly deciding not to co-operate!).

The label does not help

Carer of a young man

I am a carer of a young man diagnosed with psychosis who then went on to being diagnosed with schizophrenia. It has been an 'interesting' experience to say the least. One day you have a normal child with a whole future ahead of him the next you have a child that has been labeled as schizophrenic and being written off by many people including the medical profession.

A mother and son’s journey

Rossa Forbes

This is my submission on the devastating impact of the schizophrenia label. My son was first given his label at CAMH.

I am a mother of a son who was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia in December 2003, a son who is doing well today perhaps due to my refusing to buy into the medical model of the so-called ‘illness.’ I wasted a couple of precious years at first because I bought, albeit without much enthusiasm, the costly medical model. I spent the years until now struggling against this model.

Finding our own language

Myra Kovary

I was incarcerated in psychiatric institutions in the USA twice in the late 1970s and diagnosed with an 'acute psychotic disorder'. My experiences were technically voluntary admissions, but I was held against my will and forcibly medicated both times. In the mid 1980s, I was incarcerated again and received a diagnosis of 'Bipolar Disorder I'.

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