Preferred name: Susana
Age at Interview: 35
Age at diagnosis: 20
Background: Susana is single and lives with her family in a suburb of a large city. She is currently not working. Susana was born in Australia and identifies as having a Portuguese background.
Susana received a diagnosis of schizophrenia when she was 20. She has tried a variety of medications and recently had a short stay in a mental health unit. Susana sees a GP and is prescribed an antipsychotic medication.
More about Susana
Susana began experiencing symptoms of anxiety in her late teens while at university after she returned home from an overseas holiday. She described feeling 'stressed' and 'unhappy with what [she] was doing', and experiencing conflict with family and extended family.
In response, Susan asked her GP for a referral to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with schizophrenia. Aged 19, Susana said she 'didn't really know' at that time that there was 'stigma in the community' associated with schizophrenia. Nonetheless, she recalled that she 'didn't feel good' and 'wasn't happy' about her diagnosis because she found it 'confronting'.
Susana described being hospitalised for the first time recently for an overnight stay after 'an incident' with a mental health crisis and assessment team (CAT team). She said her regular psychiatrist had referred her to the CAT team because she hadn't taken her medication. The situation 'started to escalate' when nurses arrived at her home and she wouldn't allow them in. Susana described the hospital stay as a 'traumatic experience' and wanted to leave because she didn't feel there was 'anything seriously wrong' with her. Following this, she was placed on a community treatment order (CTO).
Over the last year, Susana has been prescribed an antipsychotic medication, which is administered by her GP by injection every four weeks. She said this 'sometimes works', but thinks it is 'a long time to be on medication'. Susana described having tried multiple medications over time and said each time 'you see a different doctor, you get a different type of medication'.
Susana believes that it is important that mental health professionals focus not just on medication, but on 'supporting' people and their 'wellbeing'. Susana finds the group holiday programs with other people from a local community mental health service to be positive for her recovery, but thinks they 'need to improve' them. She described how the staff are not as good as before and the holidays now last for a shorter time, as a result of funding cuts. As work has been 'sporadic', Susana has instead focused on study as she has found it 'more enjoyable', 'more pleasant', and 'more positive' than working. She emphasised the importance of 'social activities, keeping in touch with friends, [and] having goals that are achievable' to keeping well.