When John was 22, he was sacked from his job as a labourer for always being late. He lived with his mum, Nicola, and his younger sister, Amy, who was 15. John knew all his mates through work, so when he was sacked he lost contact with them. He began sleeping all day and watching TV through the night.
Nicola was really worried as this had gone on for months now and was getting worse. John started eating only tinned food and drinking cans of pop. He said that he didn’t trust anyone to make his food as it could be poisoned. When Nicola had tried talking to John about it, this just made him angry and he would lock himself in his room. Also, Nicola was finding it difficult to understand what John was saying. Sometimes he talked about aliens which didn’t make sense to her at all.
Nicola was upset and confused about what was happening to John. She wondered if it was her fault, and she felt guilty a lot of the time. She stayed in all the time to make sure John was alright, and she saw her friends less and less. She was also worried about the effect that this was having on Amy. Nicola didn’t know who to turn to. She was too embarrassed to talk to her friends about it, and her own mum had never been very supportive or understanding. Understandably, Nicola felt all alone, and became really stressed and depressed. Eventually, she went to her GP, who arranged for them to meet with, Sarah, a care coordinator from the Early Intervention in Psychosis Service.
John did not want to speak to anyone, including Sarah. But little by little he learnt to trust Sarah and they talked each week. Sarah helped John understand what was happening and helped him get out and about a bit. He started eating some of his mum’s food and sleeping a bit better at night.
Nicola was upset when she met Sarah and felt that she should be able to cope on her own. She was worried that Sarah was going to think that she was a bad mother. Sarah explained that all these worries were normal and that Nicola was coping really well under very difficult circumstances. Nicola was relieved to finally talk to someone about John. Over the next few months, Sarah gave Nicola some information about psychosis and practical advice on how best to help John. Twice a week, Sarah also went out with John, which gave Nicola the chance to get a break from looking after him all the time.
Sarah offered Nicola some appointments to talk to someone at the service about her own feelings of stress and depression. Nicola did not want this, which was fine. With encouragement and support from Sarah, Nicola met with her closest friend, and told her what she had been going through. Nicola was surprised that her friend was so understanding and how much better she felt for talking to her. They now meet each week for a drink.