Life Testimony:

A Service User with lived experience of cannabis psychosis

They realize, perhaps, that an illness can be an identity.

The Experience

I have a lived experience of cannabis psychosis, mental health. Author, podcaster, and lecturer, but yeah that’s pretty much what it is.

All my problems started when I went to Canada, let my head down, got into the drug culture over there, then came back and the experiences I had with cannabis in England couldn’t match up to being in Canada, because over there I went to all these parties mainly it seemed, because I like to get high.

Yeah, I come back to England, and of course everyone gets high over here and everyone has the same accent, so my whole like personality was totally watered down.

I became more and more uncomfortable in social groups, doing cannabis by myself, and then three or four years after that, the psychosis, I realized, was resulting in suicidal behaviour. So, in 1999, my mom, after she tried three different times, my mom came round, and she and I went to the GP. And then I was on a ward, and so far, it worked perfectly, I could walk into an empty room, and it was silence. But sadly, although I always made a thing of taking my meds, on the outside, I would get back into the cannabis, and then that’d be a relapse, and then this whole… will be increased.

It was 1999 that I first recognized that I was having psychosis. So, it’s about 3 years. Yeah. And I was kind of hiding it, because, I mean [trigger warning] I jumped off the bridge, 35 feet, yeah, smashed two bones in my feet, and one in my vertebrate, but I was in hospital, and the psychologists we like to what happened, you know, and I was like ah it was a party, me and just a couple of friends, joking around and they pushed me off the bridge. And then, of course, they never came to visit, because I made them up. But I kind of like convinced the psychologist that I was fine, which [found out] later, apparently, was quite a feat. So, I didn’t get the actual help until my mum realized, no, you are completely different, you are not well. And then, after that, things mobilised.

So, I would go into, every six or twelve months, I’d see psychiatrist, and you have a great chat., 15/20 mins very laid back but then I get copied into the letter that he would send to my GP and the language is so formal, ‘[unnamed] presented as euthymic today. I had to look up euthymic, which is like a flat face, not smiley or frowning. Another one was [unnamed] was unremarkable. Yes, which is great. They’re brilliant. I mean, you get good psychiatrist, I mean, sometimes they do that legacy thing. But for the most part I’ve been very lucky.

The Treatment  

They didn’t start like trying to light the curtains in front of you, or they may be came clean, or they tried that with someone else, if they feel a breakdown of trust that helped build that relationship, because you can’t give someone an epiphany, it has to come from them. It’s a bit like you can’t make someone love you, not really it has to come from that person. So, I think part of the skills that, like healthcare professionals have, is consistently, patiently, compassionately, be ready to help until that person can change. You know that their mind is changed, and then you can mobilize, assign posting and teams and everything to help that person there.

Mental Health provision

 There’s no one I can confide it to, it took like crisis levels internally for me to kind of finally come clean about this stuff, yeah, trusting therapeutic relationship is not to be underestimated, it is such a crucial thing, and I think that the faster people can get to that that kind of relationship with the client patient.