Charlotte talks about her journey with Schizoaffective disorder from when she was 14-15 years old when she started to have delusions to now to seeking help from local mental health team.
I always knew I was different, right from when I was about 14-15 years old, I began getting what I now know to be delusions.
They scared the life out of me. They were always focused on something bad happening to me or my family. I was convinced there was a man out there looking for me and it affected my thought processes and made me feel constantly on edge.
"They were getting in the way of destiny, it was my destiny…"
I had my first manic episode when I was 18 and I did things that were really out of character. I was a mess and I couldn't see it.
After my first manic episode I was crippled by alternating mania and depression, but the thing that really scared me was the psychotic elements of my illness. This happened with the mania, the depression and on their own. I'm telling you now when you are locking yourself in the bathroom, crying because you think a gang of criminals are breaking in its incredibly scary and I would say one of the hardest things I've had to go through.
I have spent large amounts of money and as credit is readily available in the UK, I am still to this day in debt. I would spend large amounts of money on clothing, shoes and handbags. I would often buy up to five of the same item. I remember planning on going on holidays but I suppose buying clothes was easier and it helped me keep up with my own mind.
I remember having a large pile of clothes, I had only worn once in my house but I only remember buying the new ones.
"Things started having secret meanings and I was convinced I could see into the future and could change the world!"
I can remember one night sitting on a night bus in London, I had planned to go pick up my 3 children from school even though I didn't have any children!
It was so scary! When I realised what was happening and that I didn't have any children and that hadn’t just finished school and that it was the middle of the night. I felt confused as well as that an emotion I was too used to feeling by now, Scared!
I would also plan to do a lot of things after seeing a holiday poster for Barbados one day. I was convinced I had to go as soon as possible. I had maxed my credit cards out and spent all my money.
I felt frustrated and angry, why were people getting in the way of my plans? Did no one want me to be happy? They were getting in the way of destiny, it was my destiny to go to Barbados!
"The first time I was in the hospital, I remember you could lock your doors, as soon as I arrived and for about a day after, I spent my time locked in my room."
Things started having secret meanings and I was convinced I could see into the future and could change the world! I also talked differently and acted differently, I couldn't keep up and my mind was racing. My thoughts were coming thick and fast and every one of them needed acting upon. I also put myself in very dangerous situations, it was very strange.
I have had to be sectioned under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act once, but have been sectioned by the police twice and been an informal patient a few times. The hospital was, and has always been just slightly scary.
There is help out there, I've always been very lucky to have a committed team of people looking after me…
The first time I was in the hospital, I remember you could lock your own doors, as soon as I arrived and for about a day after, I spent my time locked in my room. A day later when I came out I actually found the other people in there were just like me and still to this day I have some firm friends I made in the hospital.
I can also remember the first time the police picked me up, it’s a bit hazy but I remember certain bits. I was in my house and I had started seeing people outside the property, I was also hearing voices telling me that I was in danger, as well as saying things that were not very nice.
I suddenly decided that I was safer outside, I live in a quiet area so there was no one around. I was in my pyjamas and incredibly scared and agitated. The next thing I knew I was in the back of a police car being taken off to be assessed
There is help out there, I've always been very lucky to have a committed team of people looking after me, these have been made up of psychiatrists, psychologists, fantastic community mental health nurses or CPN'S as they are also known.
However, I think with more funding more people can be helped. Also, although it has been trial and error to find the right medication for me it is vital for a happy and healthy life in my opinion.
I want to raise more awareness for this condition and I hope to do this by blogging for Mind.if you would like to blog for us have a look at blogging guidelines
Read about types of mental health problems
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Visit our information pages to find out more.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.