It's quite a scary thing that can happen to any one it doesn't matter from which background. It happened to me in February 2018. It was a sudden onset, I went into work, I thought I had depression, when you're ill it's quite hard to get help especially if you don't have a history of mental health. I said to my manager I need to go home. I went home and I just flipped out at my family. I started to shout and behave erratically. All these things are out of the ordinary for me, I come from a muslim background and certain things you just don't do. We understand our morals that you're not allowed to flip out at your parents or flip out at people generally. My family got a bit shook, they called the police. The policeman came round and he was shook aswell, my eyes were bulging. I was having a psychotic episode no one really knew what was happening. I got taken to the hospital. I was able to act quite normal and cover my madness.I had a delusion that my family were trying to harm me since I was young and this built up. This is back in feb 2018. What ended up happening is I went and stayed in a hotel that night and I ended up coming out of the hotel lobby without any clothes on. The police took me to the hospital, they sat me down and told me to take medication, at this point I couldn't hide it as it was so severe. I had a paranoia that everyone was out to harm me. I can't really tell if there was a trigger. In my life I have had moments where I have lost control but I have always managed to get back in shape. it's like an elastic string that stretches and then comes back to normal. My second episode happened in March this year. It happened in Georgia out of the blue. I was hospitalised in the UK for 9 days in january 2018. I thought I was ok but I wasn't ok. It was a male ward. The second time was religiously driven. When you are pyschotic you express whatever views you hold. I started imagining things. it was mad. I'm a student aswell, I flipped out at family and other students. As it became worse and worse I lost more sense of control. At the same time, for me it's a merciful thing from God because when we're unwell we're not accountable for our actions. At that point we're vulnerable. This can get overlooked; that people with mental health conditions are actually vulnerable and they need to be looked after especially when they are going through an episode. I found that a lot of people did help me when I needed help and I did get support from my family. I started having grandiose thoughts, I started thinking I was a prophet. The good thing is when you receive medical treatment it helps to relax your thoughts and I'm just glad i was able to get out of that. You just don't have control of yourself when you're in that state. The second episode was much more severe. I'm just glad that I was hospitalised. When you're in that state you could do something that can't be reversed. I was hospitalised in Georgia. It was mad there were killers in there. It was an overpacked mental institute with hundreds of people in there. I was in Georgia for about 2 weeks. It was completely foreign to me. They don't speak English. It was packed. In the UK it was only a handful of people 10-15 max. The medication was different in Georgia to the UK. In Georgia they gave me 3 types of antipsychotics in the UK it was just Olanzapine. They gave me injections out there aswell so that was a bit horrifying. To be honest my illness made it difficult for me to work at the time. I have now been diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia and people who have that they find it hard to hold onto jobs. It was just a struggle with my Mental health. I couldn't explain what I was experiencing. I didn't have full insight. In March I didn't take my medication for 6 months I went through something which is like the symptom of Schizophrenia known as Anosognosia where you lose awareness of your illness and when you don't know you are more at threat with your illness. You're more likely to have a relapse or an episode. I also stopped praying. And in our religion you have to pray 5 times a day so for me to stop it was nuts because I just lost consciousness of who I am. when you are unwell there is the saying 'the pen is lifted for the one who loses sanity until they regain their sanity' said by the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). There is this saying that goes back 1400 years ago. In Islam there is a general mercy for the one who is unwell. It's two fold understanding the illness is one thing, experiencing the illness is another. Being aware of your illness helps to prevent a relapse. Regardless of how well you know the condition you need to have help. It's important for people to have this condition to let people around them know. The hardest part is acceptance. But I checked on Google that someone who doesn't accept their illness stays mad. It's one of those things at the moment where people don't really know what the cause is, it can be hereditary or it can be environmental or a mixture of both. It isn't fully curable. But you can still live a meaningful life, you can still feel you can still love, have a family, work. As long as you are in control of your illness. In the experience that I have had some more advice I can give is to be ok to tell somebody. A close family or a friend, a doctor or a specialist. The sooner you get help and have a diagnosis etc the sooner you can manage your illness. Becoming aware of these things and talking about it helps alot. What we have becomes a part of us. You can't forget that you have this. I would like to end on a positive note, with the saying by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that 'with every disease there comes a cure' . There is help out there.
LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST ON SPOTIFY:
To read more about Syed's journey please read her blog, it is wonderfully deep, honest and insightful : https://essmabechkoum.com/
If you feel that you are experiencing any of what Syed has spoken about please seek help from your nearest GP. There are also other sources which provide help and advice for example:
Mind 0300 123 3011
Rethink 0300 5000 927
Support Line 01708 765200
Also if you feel that you have an experience with regards to mental health that you believe others could relate to then please get in touch.