Preferred name: Brian
Age at Interview: 53
Age at diagnosis: 39
Background: Brian lives alone in an outer suburb of a metropolitan city. He was born in Australia and identifies as having an Irish background. Brian is currently not working.
Brian received a diagnosis of schizophrenia when he was 39. He has spent time in mental health units, as well as prison, and has tried a variety of medications. Brian sees a psychiatrist and a GP, and is currently prescribed an antidepressant and an antipsychotic medication.
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More about Brian
When Brian was in his mid-30s, he began to experience paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations following a session with a psychologist in which they had talked about Brian's sexuality. Brian described experiencing a 'kind of hypnosis' in the session during which he recalled childhood memories of abuse from his uncle and father. In the following years, he said he 'just took on too much information and broke down', leading to an increase in symptoms. However, he 'fell between the cracks' of the system and received no mental health follow-up after his initial appointment with the psychologist. 'Worse came to worse' and Brian committed a criminal act. He later realised he was not abused by his father.
Brian received a diagnosis of schizophrenia at age 39, while he was in a psychiatric ward after his arrest. He said the diagnosis 'didn't bother him', but he 'didn't believe' it, and was in denial about his symptoms. Brian said he was initially imprisoned for several months, during which time he received no treatment despite being 'very unwell.' He was then moved to a mental health facility for nine years, which was a 'very supportive' environment with staff that he trusted. Brian said his only complaint about his experience is that he 'should have gone straight to hospital' rather than being held in prison.
Brian is currently prescribed an antipsychotic and an antidepressant medication, and said he was unable to remember 'all of the different medications' he had tried over time. He said the antipsychotic at first 'bomb[ed him] out to the world,' but he now attributed it to having 'saved' him. Brian described how he refused medication during certain periods in prison, because he felt it was 'more manly and more rugged' to deny his mental health problems. He reflected this was because of the culture within prison to just 'deal with' symptoms, which Brian contrasted with hospital where people were 'queuing up' for medication and were encouraged to acknowledge their mental health problems.
Brian is currently on a non-custodial supervision order which means he is required to 'see staff, see doctors, take [his] medication, do groups and all that sort of stuff'. He said if he does not comply with these conditions that 'the court will have the power' to place him back in hospital. Brian said his experience since being out of hospital had been 'pretty good' and was facilitated by financial and housing assistance which he explained was 'absolutely' important to this transition.
Over the five years since his discharge, Brian has established good relationships with a GP, staff from mental health organisations and mental health units, and a psychiatrist whom he sees monthly. He said he is 'a walking example' of recovery, which he attributed to medication, having input in decisions about his life and treatment, and being 'honest and transparent' with mental health staff. Brian said he also enjoys boxing, cooking, going to meetings, and is currently taking a mindfulness course which he described as 'quite good.' He thinks these activities and his approach to mental health help to keep him 'healthy.'