I was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia (Psychosis) in February 2012 and hospitalised for the first time aged 18. I became extremely paranoid and believed everyone knew my face and extremely deluded because I believed the whole country knew me.
I began to hear voices and hallucinate, something I never experienced before and it was scary. In January 2015 I dropped out of a college course and gave up playing soccer which I loved. I lost interest in everything as I couldn’t cope with the voices and the hallucinations. I became severely depressed too as a result.
I became paranoid when watching a live TV broadcast from Ireland, for example the coverage of the Champions League on RTE 2 with Darragh Maloney, Eamon Dunphy, John Giles and Liam Brady. I truly believe they knew I was looking at them and therefore trying to direct things at me on purpose. I also started to believe people could read my mind and knew what I was thinking.
I was hospitalised on in February 2015 and spent the next few months in and out of hospital. I thought the vicious voices and hallucinations would never go but thankfully I started taking medication that helps quieten them down.
There is a huge stigma attached to mental health. When people hear that someone has Paranoid Schizophrenia straight away they jump to conclusions and think that person is dangerous but that is not the case. I know other people with Paranoid Schizophrenia and they wouldn’t hurt a fly and you can ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am harmless.
The paranoia affects me more now than the voices. The voices are manageable enough but they still annoy but not as much as they used to. One of the main problems with paranoid schizophrenia is you don't know what's real and what's not real. Take me for example I truly believe that everyone in Ireland and England knows my face from somewhere, but psychiatrists and my family have told me that's not possible and I'm just paranoid.
Sometimes a change in environment makes the voices worse and can cause me to hallucinate but I have only hallucinated once since I have been on medication. Listening to music helps me too as it drowns out the voices. I find going for long walks while listening to music is very beneficial to me as it helps to relax me.
Throughout my hospital stays I have met some extraordinary people and they said by me telling them my story that it helped them because they realised they weren't on their own and they had someone who could understand. I have made lifelong friendships with these people.
I hope by me telling my story that it will help other people because if I can do it anyone can. Although I'm not 100 per cent right I have progressed a lot since last year as I am looking into college courses and I am playing soccer every week. I hope to go back playing hurling this year too.
If anyone is reading this and is experiencing voice hearing and hallucinations and feels they can’t tell anyone, I would say that they should tell someone. It really helps.