From psychosis to: Imogen's story
Imogen, 27, lives in London and started experiencing psychosis as a teenager. She struggled to get an initial diagnosis. She eventually got the support she needed and is now doing well, studying part-time at Birbeck University. Here she shares her story and why she is so passionate about the campaign.
From my early teenage years, I was hearing voices on occasions, which I now realise was an early symptom of psychosis. I was really frightened because I didn't know what was happening. I didn't know the language around hearing voices or psychosis, or what that meant. I just knew that the things that they were saying to me were scary because it was often about harming myself. But I just did not feel like I had the vocabulary to say to someone in my life that ‘this is what's happening’. Looking back, it may have been stress-induced due to my undiagnosed autism.
When I was 15, I had a major breakdown and was hospitalised for several months. But I don’t think it was taken seriously at the time; my family were told I was badly behaved. But then another breakdown followed when I was 16. A psychiatrist asked me questions for a couple of hours during my breakdown and he told my mum that I was having a psychotic episode.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and autism as well. I am bipolar type 1, which means I get psychotic episodes, as well as the depression and the mania that people with a diagnosis of bipolar can experience. I was put on anti-psychotic medication, alongside therapy and seeing a social worker. I also spent a lot of time reading up on it, and understanding it, so that I could talk about things, and learn the triggers. It was this combination of things that worked for me.