A Story of Schizophrenia
By Alistair McIntyre
Key Themes: hearing voices, schizophrenia, hospital, recovery, marriage
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"I wrote this story of mine so people could have some insight into what thoughts, feelings and experiences a person has when they develop schizophrenia."-Alistair McIntyre
Alistair McIntrye has written a beautifully simple and honest description of how he first experienced the symptoms of his schizophrenia, of how he felt about these experiences and of how he came into contact with mental health services. His story continues with stays in hospital and with his eventual recovery and marriage. Alistair's anecdotal account is extremely witty and his message one of hope.
About the Author
In 1994 I started hearing voices, then seeing visions. Later that year I was hospitalised and diagnosed with schizophrenia, all of which was surprising to me. I tried to get out of hospital and found myself being sectioned. When I finally was discharged I thought that would be the end of my experience of mental health services. However, over the next few years I was admitted to hospital twice more. I then joined a group for mental health service users, regained my confidence and went on to join an organisation called CAPS as a member of its management committee. During all this I met Tracey and married her.
Later that night in my mum’s house, when everyone had gone to bed, I felt a presence and assumed the spirits were back. So I lay on the floor to welcome them and hopefully listen to what they had to say, but there was only silence. After about two hours I went to get up when a voice shouted stay down. This was a scary voice and filled me with fear. Then loads of voices started shouting abusive things at me, calling me all sorts of names and accusing me of things I hadn’t done. Then one voice shouted above the rest “gut him like a fish!” This made me jump to my feet terrified. A gentle voice then spoke and said “we’re only trying to initiate you”. I calmed down and lay on the floor again expecting to be initiated, but the voices just laughed. Then I went to my bed and fell asleep.
While I was in ward 6, I met some interesting people and witnessed some strange, funny and scary events. The first person I got to know quite well was Samson. He was about 25. Quite a nice guy but had the strange habit of eating every plant that was in the ward. I remember when Samson and I were in the quiet room drawing and painting: Samson took a break. He sat in a chair next to a cheese plant and started eating it. I was a bit worried about this and said to him “That might be poisonous.” He just laughed and said “It tastes great, try some.” So I laughed and said “No thanks” and we then went back to drawing. By the time Samson got out of hospital he had eaten the whole cheese plant.
Then there was Roy. Roy was a bit of a loner. I remember one day he came into the dormitory when I was lying on top of my bed. He said “Hello” and went and lay on his bed. About five minutes later a nurse accompanied by a man entered the dormitory. The nurse asked Roy if he had taken a taxi from Glasgow and Roy said “Yes”. The nurse then said “You haven’t paid the taxi driver.” “I don’t need to, I’m mad” Roy said. The taxi driver, who was the man accompanying the nurse, then started shouting and saying he wasn’t leaving until he got paid. Roy refused to pay the man, continually saying “I’m mad.” The nurses started to gather round Roy and spent about an hour trying to persuade him to pay the taxi driver, which they eventually succeeded in doing.
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