Preferred name: Luana
Age at Interview: 33
Age at diagnosis: 32
Background: Luana is married with a 3-year-old daughter and lives in a semi-rural suburb near a large city. She left her job in the public service to look after her daughter. Born in Europe, Luana identifies as both Australian and European.
Luana said that she received a diagnosis of first episode psychosis at age 28 and schizophrenia at age 32. She was first admitted to a mental health unit at age 28 and again recently. She has also been on a community treatment order (CTO). Luana sees a psychiatrist, and is currently prescribed an antipsychotic medication.
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More about Luana
Luana first developed anxiety at age 24 while she was at university. In order to cope with her anxiety about passing a subject, Luana sought treatment from a psychiatrist and underwent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Luana explained that she received a diagnosis of first episode psychosis at age 28 following 'a complete breakdown' brought on by 'work related stress'. After a second breakdown, she was diagnosed at age 32 with schizophrenia. Luana said that she was 'scared' and 'in denial' about her diagnosis at first. She said she thought her initial reaction could have stemmed from her childhood memories of an uncle with schizophrenia who was 'not coherent' and couldn't 'function very well in the world'. Luana described how when she received her diagnosis she had thought it meant she would have the 'same outcome as [her] uncle'.
Luana spent time in psychiatric units after both breakdowns, and both times was prescribed an antipsychotic. She was given an 'added medication' when she was 28 that caused her to 'lose [her] vision'. Luana described the period after discontinuing that medication and before her vision returned as a 'very scary time'. She was placed on a community treatment order (CTO) when she was 32 after she left hospital without permission. Under the CTO she was prescribed mandatory injections of an antipsychotic instead of oral tablets. Luana said she 'could understand' that she was put on the CTO because she had 'run away' but that she thought she was kept on it for 'far too long', which she said she thought was 'a bit cruel'. Luana described some of the side effects of the injections as 'upsetting' and 'embarrassing'. She said she stopped getting her period, 'lost a lot of emotional feeling about things' and started lactating 'quite a large amount'.
Luana is currently taking a different antipsychotic in oral form. She said she feels 'more comfortable' on this medication, as she finds she is 'feeling emotions a bit more'. Luana described how her medication was changed after she 'fought hard' to make the case to her psychiatrist that she shouldn't be on medication that made her lactate, and should 'have a say' in choosing her medication. Luana described 'finding the right medication' as an 'important' part of her recovery process. She said she thinks psychiatrists should 'listen a bit more to what the patients have to say', and believes there needs to be 'better linkage' with mental health service providers for people transitioning out of psychiatric units.
Luana recently began seeing a new psychiatrist with whom she has a good relationship. She said she believes there are a lack of 'positive role models' of people with mental health issues 'as severe as schizophrenia', and now aspires to work in mental health as 'a peer support advocate' in order to fill that gap.