Preferred name: Gurvinder
Age at Interview: 32
Age at diagnosis: 18
Background: Gurvinder is single and lives on his own in an outer suburb of a large city. He works part-time as a factory hand. Gurvinder was born in India and his ethnic background is Punjabi.
Gurvinder was 18 when he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He has been admitted to psychiatric wards twice; the first time, for four days in his early 20s, and then for six weeks, when he was 30. He was on a Community Treatment Order (CTO) for four months after his second hospital stay. Gurvinder is currently taking medication. He sees a private psychiatrist and a case manager from a mental health organization.
Clips from Gurvinder's Interview
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More about Gurvinder
When Gurvinder was 18 he started a part-time nursing degree while living away from home and working. At this time, he experienced some paranoid thoughts that he felt were caused by recreational drugs. A private psychiatrist diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia and prescribed a low dose of medication. While Gurvinder still experienced paranoid thoughts, he felt at this time that his symptoms weren't 'prominent'. He said he began to dislike nursing due to the workplace culture and associated pressures and discontinued with his studies just before graduation.
Gurvinder moved back home with his parents. Not coping with his symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, he started to drink heavily. The drinking soon 'overtook' his life and his parents asked him to leave their home. Gurvinder attended a rehabilitation facility; however, he felt the treatment did not appropriately combine 'taking care' of both the symptoms of his mental health problem and his drinking. This led to a particularly 'unstable' time. Gurvinder had further paranoid thoughts, and was hearing voices. At 22, after a 'severe' reaction to a recreational drug, Gurvinder self-harmed and was admitted to a psychiatric ward for four days.
Gurvinder continued to drink heavily and became a 'bit of a recluse'. His accommodation, finances and health were 'out of order'. He was 'non-compliant' with his medication, as he 'didn't see it working'. Gurvinder also experienced suicidal thoughts. With his mother's support, he 'reached out for help' by presenting to the emergency department of a hospital several times. Gurvinder felt he was never assessed appropriately, and was always sent home.
When his community mental health nurse made a call to the hospital Gurvinder, at 30, was finally admitted to an acute psychiatric ward. Here he felt 'very helpless', and as though his 'freedom was very restricted'. On his second day, Gurvinder became an involuntary patient. He felt that he didn't get to put his 'own case' forward during the decision making process, that he wasn't 'fully assessed' for involuntary status, and that the Mental Health Review Board* made a very 'rushed' decision. Gurvinder said he 'never had voices that intense' in his life as during his time in hospital, and he made a suicide attempt.
After about six weeks in hospital Gurvinder was put on a Community Treatment Order (CTO). While he didn't feel he was given any choice with regard to this decision either, he did see the CTO as a 'good thing' and felt it kept him on the 'straight and narrow'. He started new medication and said he is now making a good recovery, despite 'unhealthy' side effects including weight gain and sexual dysfunction.
Gurvinder felt that whilst mentally unwell he 'didn't make many decisions' and didn't feel listened to. He doesn't 'have a say' over his finances, but in general thinks his involvement in decisions has increased. Gurvinder's parents have a 'big role' in his life and continue to support him. He lives independently and has commenced an IT degree. Gurvinder is setting new goals and feels he is now in an 'excellent space'.
* Now called the Mental Health Tribunal.