Living with schizophrenia - Jamie's story



Jamie Duncan is 34 years old and lives with schizophrenia. He arrived in one of our supported accommodation services in 2015, and the progress he has made since then has been staggering. From trying to kick down hospital doors to moving into a new flat with his brother – it has certainly been quite a journey. Here’s his story, in his words. 

In September 2014, I remember feeling particularly strange. I was really suspicious of everyone and experienced a lot of paranoia, and I would constantly switch the light on and off.

After an altercation with my mum’s boyfriend, I was admitted to a mental health inpatient facility in Northamptonshire where I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I was not happy. I tried to break out of the hospital by kicking the doors. I was given some medication to help calm myself down when I was in there. I started to feel a bit better after taking the medication, and soon I moved in to a Rethink Mental Illness Supported Accommodation Service.

I arrived at Selsey House, Corby, in August 2015 aged 30. To be honest, at that time I barely spoke. If I did, it was only to answer questions. When I was first introduced to Rethink, I felt trapped in hospital and found it a huge relief that I had found a place in Corby where I came from. I was happy to move in and staff were excellent in helping me settle in to the new accommodation. They helped by starting my folder and making sure all my needs were met and I had input into what I wanted from my time here.

  • The move into a new home is never easy, but over time, I started to feel more confident.

The move into a new home is never easy, but over time, I started to feel more confident and I was more sociable with the other tenants in Selsey House. After settling in, I started going to The Green Patch community allotment to lend my hand as a volunteer. When I started at Green Patch, I was always accompanied by a member of staff from Rethink Mental Illness, but over time I felt confident enough to travel on the bus on my own. I still go to this day, and the time I spend there really helps me manage my schizophrenia. I love it. A typical day at Green Patch is varied. I do help a lot with making the lunch, like soup and sandwiches. We plant a lot of bulbs and flowers especially over the winter months, and in the summer we do a lot of garden maintenance like watering the plants. This makes me feel nice and peaceful when I am doing this, and it helps calm me down. I like the social aspect of it too, because I enjoy spending time with other like-minded people.

At Selsey House, I loved taking part in the various activities put on by staff there. I really enjoyed playing pool, doing arts and crafts or going to the cinema. I now regularly leave the house with other tenants to play pool or go and watch a film, and I even went go-karting too! These events really made me feel like a part of the team, and enabled me to feel confident enough to sit on an interview panel and help decide who the new Mental Health Recovery Worker at Selsey House would be. It felt great to be trusted with this responsibility.

Staff at Selsey House have helped me with a lot of things. In fact, they have helped me so much that I am now able to live my life independently. I live with my brother in a flat close to Selsey House. I can do my own cooking, I clean up after myself and I’m able to keep my flat tidy. Those may sound like small things, but it is a huge transformation in comparison to what I was able to do before I arrived. Being close to the House means it is easy for me to still be involved in activities and to see staff, too.

My family also played a big part in my recovery. Whilst at Selsey House, my dad would visit a few times a week, and my brother would also come to visit too. The support of my family has really helped with my recovery as I know I am valued and loved. Without them, I feel my recovery may have taken longer. It’s with their support that I have been able to change my story, and indeed change my life.

Every year our network of services helps over 16,000 people experiencing mental illness to get the help and support they need. In total, we provide over 200 expert mental health services in England. These can help you or someone you know with everything from housing to employment, legal rights to nursing care, carer support to help for young people.