Preferred name: Niall
Age at Interview: 45
Age at first diagnosis: 20
Background: Niall is single and lives on his own in a regional town. He is currently volunteering with a charity. Niall was born in Australia.
Niall began experiencing anxiety from the age of 11. He was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder at 20, major depression at 25, and schizophrenia at 32. Niall has been hospitalised twice; the first time voluntarily, and the second time as an involuntary patient. Niall currently takes medication and sees a psychiatrist.
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More about Niall
Niall explained that he was 11 years old when he began to experience anxiety. As a teenager he was bullied at school, and he experienced a fire at his family home which Niall said caused him 'a lot of shock' and 'led to a lot of problems'. He described feeling depressed and exhibiting signs of compulsive behaviour, and said his anxiety was 'so disabling' that he didn't complete school. Niall said it was 'pretty hard' not to have the opportunity to go to university, especially seeing his peers continue their education and 'follow their different paths to marriage, familiesâ€¦ and jobs'.
When Niall was 20 he spent two weeks voluntarily in hospital, and received a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). A year later he 'wasn't coping', and was 'pretty, pretty sick'. He was admitted to hospital as an involuntary patient. Niall felt that his psychiatrist made a 'good decision' to send him to hospital, and he 'never felt under threat in any way' during his time there. However, he is happy that he has not been back to hospital since.
Niall believes his anxiety and OCD led to psychosis. After being diagnosed with major depression the year before, at 26 he began hearing 'constant' voices and experienced 'very frightening' delusions. He said he felt 'overwhelmed' by paranoia, and had thoughts of suicide. Niall saw a psychiatrist and a psychologist, both of whom were 'very helpful'. He received 'good' advice from telephone helplines, and for ten years attended a 'beneficial' hearing voices group where he met others with similar experiences.
Niall said that his mental health issues 'got worse' in his early 30s when his mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness and died, as she had supported him and 'stood up' for him throughout his periods of being unwell. Niall described being diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 32, and said it was 'complex' and 'difficult to treat' due to associated anxiety and depression. He has experienced side effects from medication, including weight gain, which he said negatively affected his self-esteem. One antidepressant caused him to have 'violent' thoughts. He now feels he is on 'the right mix of medication'.
As he has gotten older, Niall's anxiety has diminished and he has become more assertive about expressing how he feels about treatment. While he received support over the years from his parents, step-mother and brother, Niall thinks it has helped his recovery to have taken 'responsibility' for his own decision making, without 'significant support'.
Although Niall feels he has had disappointments as a result of his mental health problems, he said his experiences have given him 'a lot of inner strength' and 'resilience'. Singing in choirs and playing tennis have helped his recovery, along with a 'positive attitude', friendships, reading and watching movies. Niall still sees a psychiatrist and enjoys living independently. He feels connected with his local community, takes holidays, and attends creative writing classes. His father continues to have a caring role and assists with his finances. Niall plans to become involved in mental health peer support, and eventually find paid work.