Psychosis (young people)

Barry

Male
Age at interview: 19
Age at diagnosis: 16

Brief outline: Barry was bullied a lot in school and was diagnosed with autism at a young age. He experienced delusions when he was 16 years old and was in hospital involuntarily for over a year. He has since started an apprenticeship.

Background: Barry is a full time support worker and healthcare assistant apprentice. He is single and is mixed race.

Audio & video

Barry was diagnosed with autism at a young age. He was bullied and struggled to make friends at school. This began to change when he was 14 and went on a residential trip with his youth club. He started to make friends with people during the trip and this really helped his confidence. He still attends a youth group where he does the Duke of Edinburgh award which he feels has really benefitted him through giving him skills and opportunities to do things. 

When Barry finished school, he went to study catering at college because he enjoyed cookery. He enjoyed the course at first but he found the pressures of having to do coursework, learning many different things and multitasking quite stressful. In January 2014, Barry’s mum began to worry that he was getting depressed, and in February he had his first “mental breakdown”. He started being disoriented at college and he couldn’t focus because his mind was “all over the place”. One morning Barry woke up and saw a red cartoon car on his curtains. Later that day Barry met up with his friend in a park and they saw an accident involving a red car. He felt the red car he saw on his curtains was a vision of the accident. He didn’t want his friend to call the ambulance because he was paranoid that the accident was somehow his fault. 

Shortly after, his mother contacted CAMHS who put Barry on a waiting list. Within a week he began not knowing where he was and became very “stuttery”. He found it difficult to respond to people who were talking to him and became “completely erratic” and “couldn’t sit still”. Barry’s mother took him to a local CAMHS centre where he had had help for autism in the past. Barry was given an appointment four days later but his mother had to bring him back sooner because she was concerned for his wellbeing. The psychiatrist prescribed an anti-psychotic (trifluoperazine), which had bad side effects the next day – it made his arm get stuck in a position wrapped around his head. When this happened his mother took him to A&E where he was given diazepam (a benzodiazepine) to help him relax. In the days to follow Barry continued to be delusional and was later admitted to a child and adolescent ward under Section two of the Mental Health Act for a month and later under Section three for twelve months.

Barry remembers sitting in hospital for long periods with strong delusions. He would sit for days staring at one thing and barely eating any food which made him lose a lot of weight. 

Barry wants to support other people who are struggling. He is doing a full time apprenticeship to become a support worker and health care assistant with a charity that works with people who have drug addictions. He is also active in a Facebook group where he supports others living with mental health issues. 

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