Real Life Stories Ashleigh's Story
Before I started having my symptoms of psychosis, I was beginning high school and was on a female ice hockey team. My mom got me involved and it was a lot of fun playing and seeing her watch me. That was very special.
I was a pretty good student at school. I was a funny, easy going metal head. I taught myself guitar around the age of 12 and started a punk rock band shortly before I became ill.
I started feeling the changes and effect of psychosis shortly after my mom passed away when I was 14. I was in grade 9 and I completely lost all interest in school and ice hockey. I quit ice hockey and failed grade 9. I began to withdraw from family life and friends. I would lock myself in my bedroom and barely come out.
My teachers and my dad noticed these big changes in me. No one really had an idea of the internal struggle I was facing, most people just passed off my mom's death as being the reason for my changes.
My first experience with EPI was meeting with the psychiatrist. My grandmother and eldest brother went with me and he explained to them what psychosis was and what I was experiencing.
The EPI family was very helpful because it made me feel like I wasn't alone with my psychosis symptoms. I felt like people really cared about me and my well-being.
Music and video games are a huge part with my recovery. They are my biggest coping mechanisms. I also enjoy hanging out at the mental health clubhouse, that place is like a second home to me and has helped me immensely.
The biggest challenge that I faced while in the EPI program would just be the realization that there were explanations for why I was hearing voices and the realization that I had a mental illness. That was really hard to accept for a long time.
I would define recovering from psychosis as being functional, happy and productive. I feel like I have accomplished all of those. Thanks to the strong support from EPI right from the start, they have been able to help me get on the right track to overcome psychosis to quite a great extent.
I went for two years hearing voices and not telling anyone because I was scared I'd be locked in a padded room for the rest of my life. The big step for anyone struggling with psychosis is getting the help that they need. My advice would just to accept what is going on and that EPI is there to help and will really give you a sense that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Today I see myself as a strong, independent woman. I live in my own apartment, I pay my own bills, I buy my own groceries, I take care of myself. I am very proud to be living on my own and I enjoy it very much. Like I mentioned, I'm also really into video games, especially shooting zombie ones. Hey, at least I'll be ready for the zombie apocalypse! The Whale House is also my second home and I have met so many amazing friends there. In my future I would like to become a bit more independent from my dad, because he does do a lot for me. I also want to keep going to high schools and talking to kids and being a beacon of support to them. I have a strong passion that I don't want any kid to struggle how I did before I told anyone about my symptoms of psychosis.
When the voices are giving me a hard time, I go to my 1,600 + metal cds that I own, put one on and just get lost in the music. It helps drown the voices out. I also have an excellent support network, so if something is bugging me particularly bad, I can phone one of them and get support that way.
I think I am much more mentally and emotionally stronger than I was when I first experienced psychosis symptoms. I'm also much more outgoing and confident in myself. I love meeting people and talking to people about where I've been, where I'm at and where I'm going.
I draw a lot of strength from the memory of my mom, knowing that she is looking down on me and is proud of me. Also, my dad is incredibly supportive and is always there for me. I have a few very close friends that are my pillars of support as well.
EPI was the building blocks for my recovery. I am so grateful for everyone that I was involved with when in EPI and they have made a huge, positive impact on my life. Thank you!!!