Psychosis (young people)


Age at interview: 24
Age at diagnosis: 21

Brief outline: Dominic experienced commanding voices and visual hallucinations with strong violent urges during his teenage years. Although he has gone through many ups and downs he manages his psychosis better now and is volunteering to help others.

Background: Dominic is White British.

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When Dominic was aged 5, he and his sister were the first children in their county to be diagnosed with ADHD. Dominic remembers feeling angry a lot as a child and was teased at school for being different. When he was involved in a physical fight for the first time at school the other children cheered and congratulated him, and this was the first time he felt good. He wished it had never happened because it started a long habit of fighting. At the age of 13 he was regularly drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis and by 15 he was part of a local gang involved in group fighting and drugs. His involvement with the gang ended suddenly when he was 16 and a very close friend died during a gang fight. 

Dominic began to change as a person after that and became virtually a “recluse” for nine months. However, during this period - without violence or drugs and spending days mostly at home - the voices became very dominant. He was in a relationship with a young woman who, he later realised was abusive towards him. It was a “crazy time” and when the relationship ended he was in a worse place than when it began. He tried to get away from his past life, but was constantly pursued by gangs in the neighbourhood and had to move home several times, as did his family. When they finally moved to a new area together things started to “settle down”. Dominic got a job doing scaffolding. But the voices were joined by images and turned into violent “orders”, telling him to hurt others. This got worse and until one day he attacked a co-worker and that was when he began to get help.

The first time he felt he was gaining some control over his voices was his first CBT session. The man who ran it was “spectacular” and made him think about why he might have feelings of hatred towards himself. He later had group CBT sessions and found that hearing the coping strategies of his peers helped towards the “control” he has now. There have been ups, and big downs, but he now has many tools which he finds helpful. For example, mindfulness, checking in from moment to moment with himself, helps him on a day to day basis to stop feelings of anger from escalating, and stop the build-up of voices. Another technique that he uses a lot, is putting his feet flat on the ground and tensing up all his muscles, then relaxing them. This helps him to re-focus on what is happening. 

He finds it helpful to make sure the voices are acknowledged and dealt with, and not to ignore them. He will put aside time in the day to hear them and respond to them in a measured way. Sometimes managing them means showing compromise but ultimately he is in charge and not the voices. He has a relationship with his voices, and he’s learnt to have “fun with that in a way” because he doesn’t want to be an angry person - taking the voices, and himself, seriously all the time. 

He received support from Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) Team from age 19 and also had help from his GP. He only received a diagnosis, of schizophrenia, two years after he started seeing the EIP team. That was a “big weight off” and he thinks it might have helped him to have had a diagnosis earlier.

He has had support from a few charities. Mind and Employment Support (previously City Limits) have helped him with his finances and getting back into work and generally been there for him. He also attended a residential camp run by the Prince’s Trust which had a huge positive impact on him.

Dominic has a loving family who are there for him. He feels very protective over them and doesn’t like to burden them with his own problems, although they don’t see it that way. Because of his family support he was never sectioned but instead had periods under “house arrest”. With support from the charity Mind, he will soon be moving out of his family home, which will be a big change for him.

Dominic takes quetiapine which he finds suits him. 

He will soon be starting volunteering for a local Mind centre as a peer support worker and is positive about the future. He says “the future is happy”.


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