Psychosis (young people)

Hannah

Female
Age at interview: 19
Age at diagnosis: 15

Brief outline: Hannah has experienced low mood and depression since she was 14 and started seeing “visions”. She has had diagnosis of psychosis, depression and Asperger’s syndrome.

Background: Hannah works part-time and is single. She is English.

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Hannah was receiving support from CAMHS for depression and low mood when she first started seeing images that other people couldn’t see. The first time it happened she was out walking with her dogs and the vision, which was a character from a film, faded. She didn’t tell her family or friends about it at the time. She first spoke about it to someone at CAMHS and they suggested she was experiencing psychosis. After that the images became more frequent and she saw “little gremlin looking things” which would stand in the distance and stare at her or follow her. When she looked at them directly they would disappear. 

She has tried a few different medications. At first she was given aripiprazole (anti-psychotic), which had no effect. She was then given olanzapine (anti-psychotic), which did make the visions less frequent, but also made her put on a lot of weight. When she came off that medication the visions came back ‘with a vengeance’, almost as if they had been repressed. She started to feel that they could control her. She was given quetiapine (anti-psychotic) in hospital and that seemed to work well and she continued to take it for over 3 years. That had the effect of raising her cholesterol, but her cholesterol is reducing now that she has stopped taking it. She currently takes venlafaxine (anti-depressant).

She went into hospital voluntarily when she was 15 and was there for three and a half weeks. She didn’t feel that hospital was a good experience. The nurses didn’t engage with the young people and the greatest comfort for her was speaking to the other young people there. They were not allowed to go into each other’s rooms and she found it hard not being able to comfort a friend who was clearly distressed. 

While she was in hospital they diagnosed her with Asperger’s and she found it a “relief” to get that diagnosis. She thinks it explains a lot about how she communicates with others and she thinks she has probably had it since childhood, but was never tested. 

While in hospital she went to art therapy and mindfulness classes but didn’t find those useful. She also had counselling for a year and a half, mostly for her depression. The counsellor was trying to find some past experience that was at the root of the problem, which she didn’t find helpful. She never felt there was anything in her past that caused her psychosis and she thinks that should be taken into account in talking therapies. What she does find useful is ‘strategies’ for reducing her visions. She has found many ways to help herself. She tries to avoid seeing disturbing images on TV, in the cinema or when she is out, that might later come back as visions. She also enjoys listening to music and being with her dogs and finds that helps her to relax. These work best for her and she is not currently taking any medication or experiencing visions.

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