"I was hearing voices: normally I would hear my name being called, or random noises like honking or distant screams of women. It was so scary! I thought I was going crazy. I knew it was not real and that confused me even more. I felt paranoid, believing that I was being followed, that people were looking at me and judging me.
I saw hallucinations of dark entities coming out from my cupboard and seeing a rather persistent dog in my vision which I found to be an unnerving experience (the funny thing is, I love dogs!). I felt like I had bugs crawling up my neck.
All I used to want to do was sleep – it was my safe space. Getting out of bed was hard, I struggled to get the motivation to do anything.
I think a lot of my unusual experiences were based on my real-life experiences – like being followed in the past, and being a target of hate."
"I think I was at the GP when I started to talk about the unusual experiences. It was not that long after - I think it was about a month - when I saw OASIS. I was amazed at the resources available within OASIS: they have doctors, social workers, mental health nurses, psychologists. I was guided through the process of getting the best help I needed."
"The OASIS assessment was really good – it was different to ones I have had before. It was comprehensive, as long as it needed to be and it was so reassuring knowing that what I was going through did not mean I was 'crazy', that other people went through it. It felt like a good, safe environment to open up about my trauma which led to me developing attenuated psychotic symptoms. My assessors were really reassuring. It was a good process and I felt safe to talk about both my mental state and personal experiences."
"I found keyworking to be the most human aspect of OASIS: the day to day-ness of it, which personally I have found the most beneficial, like talking about the week and thinking “what can be learnt from this?” The process is a growing process, being able to talk, understand and move on helps the journey. Even while the process is happening, life still occurs.
Keyworking has been flexible in both time and place – I used to really struggle with going into town and I know I could have met my keyworker there to help me overcome fears if I had wanted that. It has really helped strengthen the concept that the OASIS journey is a personable one."
"Eventually hallucinations became funny and started to add something to my life – I thought “I might as well try and enjoy them”. With the dog, I would imagine sunglasses on it and force myself to imagine it smoking a cigarette at a funny angle - that way it became funny rather than scary.
When I noticed I was getting anxious, I would focus purely on breathing – just like when I am getting a tattoo done. When I get stressed at work or if someone is annoying me, I focus on breathing and it’s so incredible it forces your body to calm down, it makes you in control of what is happening – and it distracts you from your weird experiences.
Part of my experience was feeling quite low. Now, I exercise regularly but to start with the hardest part was putting my trainers on - and I would say that to anyone who is depressed. Each time I do some exercise it makes me put my chin up. Even just one press up a day, then going up to two and I feel better about myself.
It is doing the little things that have a massive impact and that is what OASIS is so good at – considering and prompting different options to try out what works for you.
I am a big bloke and feeling so scared was unnerving but it does not make you any less of a man or a coward – anyone would feel the same despite how big your muscles are. It is scary but I forced myself to focus on the techniques I was learning to get through and distract myself. It is like climbing a mountain: it is sometimes scary and it requires a lot of effort to move, let go of one climbing rod to move forward. It is when you start to see the top that those techniques start to get a bit easier.
With OASIS’ help, I really think that understanding myself has made me a better man. Whilst the unusual experiences have not been pleasant, I am really glad I had them otherwise I would not be who I am today. It is shit sometimes, but work through it, ‘cause you can get there. I hardly have any unusual experiences any more."