Preferred name: Ann
Age at Interview: 36
Age at diagnosis: 32
Background: Ann is in a relationship and living with her partner in a suburb of a metropolitan city. She was born in Australia and identifies as having an Australian background.
Ann received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at age 32 and is also a voice hearer. She has spent time in mental health units and been on and off a variety of medications. Ann sees a psychiatrist and a GP, and is currently prescribed psychiatric medications.
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More about Ann
Ann described hearing 'distressing voices' from a very young age and learning that these experiences were not something she should share with others. It has only been in the last year that she has 'come out', as she described, about this part of her life to her intimate partner and her psychiatrist. Ann has also experienced severe depression and anxiety throughout her life. She felt that her marriage to her now ex-husband was somewhat supportive, which ended after he 'couldn't cope' with the symptoms of her mental health problems. She is currently living with her partner, who she identifies as 'very supportive', and works in a support role in the mental health sector.
Ann described receiving many different diagnoses over the years, including depression and schizoaffective disorder; she believes that it 'doesn't matter which labels' are given. The last diagnosis Ann received was bipolar disorder at the age of 32. She found the manner in which her psychiatrist presented this information, by 'just blurt[ing] it out', insensitive.
After being bullied at her job, Ann said things went 'quite pear-shaped' and her symptoms worsened. She was prescribed medication to cope with her anxiety. However, she viewed this as a 'bandaid' solution and when her symptoms continued to worsen, her doctor put her on antidepressant medication for what was then identified as depression. She felt that her ex-husband 'first started pulling away' at this time.
Ann described being hospitalised 'quite a few times,' and feels these experiences were 'challenging' because of feeling locked-up in an 'institutionalised environment.' She also felt the 'culture of clinical staff' was often unresponsive to requests and did not provide 'extra support.' During one of her hospitalisations, Ann said her ex-husband agreed to her receiving 14 courses of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Ann 'didn't consent' to this treatment and believes it has caused long-term memory loss.
Ann is currently prescribed several psychiatric medications. She has tried 'loads of different medications' throughout her life and identifies several she would not take again because 'the side effects were worse than the positive effects.' She recently reduced her medication with the help of her psychiatrist and would like to be medication free in order to start a family with her partner, but finds that prospect 'very nerve-wracking.'
Ann also adopts a range of other strategies to manage her mental health including mindfulness and meditation, 'sensory' focused relaxation activities, and nourishing relationships with her two dogs. Ann also undertakes activities that 'feed her soul', and make 'her happy' such as photography and taking her dogs for a walk.
Ann has established relationships with a psychiatrist and GP with whom she has regular appointments. Ann sees the continuous care she has received as crucial for the trust and rapport she has established. Ann has a positive outlook on her recovery and the future. She also has an advance statement which she considers an important and empowering tool in the event of her becoming unwell.