Psychosis (young people)



Brief outline: Fran is an NHS trainer and lives on her own. Ethnic background / nationality: White British.

Background: Fran had psychotic episodes when she was younger and was hospitalised several times. More recently, she has been feeling better and only visits her GP for repeat prescriptions and to get her benefit forms signed. A community psychiatric nurse visits her weekly and Fran appreciates the practical help she gets.

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Fran started having mental health issues, which were partly drug-related, when she was a teenager. She said that her teachers at the time saw the illness as bad behaviour and expelled her from sixth form. They later had to apologise for their mistake. Fran was living with her mum when she had her first major psychotic episode. She wanted to set the house on fire, believing that ‘it was full of devils’. The GP came to the house and she was taken to a psychiatric hospital, where she spent the next three months. For the next ten years Fran spent three and a half years ‘on and off’ in hospital. 

Over the years, Fran met a lot of health professionals and found that some staff ‘just don’t give a damn’. For Fran, a good doctor is someone who has ‘empathy and genuine kindness’, like her GP who knew from the start that she wasn’t just a ‘naughty teenager’ but needed help. 

More recently, Fran has been feeling better and only visits the GP to get repeat prescriptions and her benefit forms signed. She has a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) that visits her weekly and Fran appreciates the practical help she gets. She got on particularly well with her first CPN, who was on maternity leave. Fran found her ‘really clever, really perceptive’ and motivating. She also appreciated that this nurse told her when she behaved like a ‘naughty little bugger’ but was genuinely proud when Fran did something well.
At the time of interview Fran felt ‘pretty good’ and was ‘really, really trying to keep well now’. Her family and friends were her main source of support, and ‘not taking drugs’ had been most helpful in terms of keeping well. She was planning to move away from the area where she was surrounded by people taking drugs to somewhere with ‘loads of green space ....and peace and quiet’. 

Fran works in the NHS, giving training in better ways of restraining people who are aggressive during psychotic episodes. In her free time, she likes to write poetry, cook, and is thinking about going to dance classes again. 

In Fran’s opinion, perceptions of mental illness have changed a lot over the last ten years. Her message to healthcare professionals was that ‘it doesn’t hurt to be nice to people’, empathetic and compassionate. 

Fran’s poem:  

Stealing Song

I'm always writing stealing songs
About things that belong to other people,
other people’s lives.
Criminal poems.

They never just take what they want
They never just say it straight
The things I want usually shouldn't be mine
So my poems reflect those lies in every line.

They slip a metaphor into their back pocket
With a switchblade made out of dark blue ink,
Slashing Similes.

Hiding behind a can of cherryade,
Laced with drawers full of erasers,
Rubbers - every colour of the rainbow,
Tippex, scribbles over scribbles over burn marks on the pages.
Everything clouded over with toxic smoke.

Buried deep underneath is love,
Pirate’s treasure,
Flowers stolen while garden hopping in the middle of the night.

Words are little explosions -
The striking of a thousand matches,
One by one
Like messages from god,
Come and gone too quickly for anyone to decipher.

For more of Fran’s interview see our site on ‘Seeing the GP: Advice and tips for young people’


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