Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) services help young people with a first episode of psychosis in their recovery and to gain a good quality of life.
A service user has blogged outlining their experience of psychosis, their positive experience of accessing their local EIP service as part of their recovery journey, and how they’re now sharing their experience to support developing the service.
I initially presented to A&E supported by my parents as I had not slept or eaten for two days. I was feeling sensations in my head, paranoia and suspicions around the behaviours of others.
Following assessment, I was admitted informally to the local mental health inpatient unit. I found it difficult and confusing being away from family and felt unsure what was happening. I struggled with sharing a room with another person and can vividly recall lying in bed, heart pounding and feeling anxious.
After three months I was discharged and began working with the local Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) team, where I met with my support worker and community mental health nurse on a weekly basis. Over time I began to trust and confide in the team and gradually started to feel ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’ talking about my thoughts and feelings.
Over the next three years I regularly met up with my care team, extending the time between contacts as my recovery continued. We set small goals to work towards including spending more and more time out of the house, challenging intrusive thoughts and developing confidence. Prior to becoming unwell I was an accomplished footballer and played the sport to a high level. This was important to me as it was part of my identity as an individual and was a shared interest with my family, and this was recognised by my care team and was integrated into my goal setting and care planning.
Over time my confidence and self-esteem grew. Looking back on those few years, I was under a lot of pressure and stress before I became unwell, made little time for myself away from work, and over time became socially isolated, withdrawing from the people and activities I enjoyed. I think the lack of balance in my life linked to how my early symptoms began to develop, including growing feelings of anxiety, paranoia and my mood lowering.
My recovery was helped by small steps and consistency offered by the team who made me feel safe and able to talk about my experiences, and to explore healthy ways of coping. I found that getting out of the house with my support worker and attending groups such as woodland activity sessions with the EIP team gave me space to meet others with similar experiences, readjust, and practice my self-management skills. I’m now confident to notice and respond to early warning signs and triggers and understand what is helpful to maintain my wellbeing and what isn’t.
I’m grateful to the EIP service and find myself reflecting on how working collaboratively with the team has helped in my recovery and being able to find my voice. I’m now working full time in a retail management role and have returned to coaching football locally.
Although I’ve been discharged from EIP services, I support the team and share my lived experience perspective to help the service develop. For example, I recognise it was a worrying time for my parents when I was experiencing psychosis and advise that EIP teams must engage families at the earliest opportunity, so they too feel listened to and supported.