Preferred name: Evan
Age at Interview: 56
Age at diagnosis: 19
Background: Evan lives with his wife in an outer suburb of a large city. He was born in Egypt and identifies as having a Greek/Egyptian background. Evan is currently working part-time in the mental health sector.
Evan was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 19. He has been hospitalised once and over time has tried counselling and a variety of medications. Re-engaging with the community has been important to his recovery, as has work and having good relationships with his GP and psychiatrist.
More about Evan
When Evan was in his late teens he began experiencing 'symptoms of paranoia' including feeling like people were talking about him and following him. He said his family 'could see there was a problem' and tried a number of avenues to assist him, including taking him to see a GP, spiritual healer, and a priest. Evan described being told that what he was experiencing was 'just stress'; however, the 'problem became exacerbated'.
After speaking to his parents, Evan went to the emergency department at his local hospital 'a few times' until he was able to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with schizophrenia and admitted him to hospital for three months. He said people experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia today should 'thank their lucky stars' that they were not hospitalised when he was, because at that time medication was 'very sedative' and people were just 'forgotten'.
Evan is currently prescribed an antipsychotic medication. He described himself as being 'compliant' with medication and said that he considers it a 'preventative measure' to stop symptoms from 'flaring up'. Evan has 'trialled' several different medications over time in an effort to find one that was 'less sedative' and did not cause weight gain. His current medication 'works well' for him and he has 'more energy'. However, Even said he had learned that it wasn't wise to be 'too hasty' when changing medications, as they could take some time to 'kick in'.
In addition to medication, Evan has had counselling, including from a mental health nurse and a social worker. He said this helped him understand his mental health better, and renewed his motivation to 'go on with life' and 'get interactive in the community'.
Over the past 20 years, Evan established an important relationship with his GP whom he now considers 'a good friend'. The basis of this relationship, Evan said, was asking his GP the 'right questions' so his GP can 'guide' him into 'putting [information] into practice'. He said although psychiatrists were busy, if he ever needed a referral to one his GP could provide one - and would support him in changing to a different psychiatrist if he 'wasn't happy' with the initial referral.
Evan described facing a number of challenges during his times of being unwell in relation to employment and education. He was unable to complete his university degree and for many years found it difficult to 'sustain a job'. However, over the past 12 years Evan has been working in the mental health field, which he 'enjoy[s] quite a lot'.
Evan described feeling 'successful in [his] recovery' and that was due to 'self-acceptance', 'not hiding [his] illness', and 'taking responsibility' for his own decisions. He also identified his involvement in church activities and organised sport as important factors, as well as his family who had made 'decisions in the start [but] eased off as [he] recovered'. Evan explained that although his first marriage 'didn't work' and his adult children from that marriage 'don't see [him] anymore', he is 'happy and content' in his second marriage.