My name is Lucy. I am 36 years old.
I have schizoaffective disorder and autism.
I first went into hospital at age 18.
I had psychotic symptoms and was very frightened.
Psychotic symptoms are signs of some mental health problems.
They can be things like hearing or seeing things that are not there.
They can also be believing deeply in things that are not true.
I was in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for a while.
Then I left hospital.
Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICU) are hospital wards where people are watched 24 hours a day.
Sometimes, hospital staff think someone’s mental health problems are very serious.
When this happens, they might send them to the PICU.
I was out of hospital for 3 years and studied at university.
When I first went into hospital, I started dating my school friend, Dave.
I moved in with Dave in my 3rd year of university.
Aged 23 I went into hospital again.
I stayed there for 10 years.
I was paranoid and I attempted suicide many times.
I was moved from one hospital to another.
Then I was moved to a secure, private hospital.
I spent 6 years there.
I was often kept away from other people.
Dave and I broke up.
I was very depressed and had stays in Intensive Care.
I moved hospital again, this time 2 hours away from home.
I ended up back in the PICU.
After a while I got back into doing some activities.
I started exercising and spending the day with family.
I started dating Dave again after joint therapy sessions.
Then I moved to a supported living placement.
I had help from lots of different professionals.
I had help with medication and applying for benefits.
I also had practical help with things like shopping.
After a year in supported living, Dave asked me to marry him.
I started working for the local NHS trust as an Expert by Experience.
An expert by experience is someone who knows about something because they lived through it.
A Disabled person knows what the life of a Disabled person is like.
Someone who was in hospital knows what it is like to be a patient.
I had been on medication since leaving hospital.
I started looking after my medication by myself.
I got support workers who started to visit me before I moved out.
I got married this year.
We went on a 3-week honeymoon.
I now have my support workers who come round to help me.
Supported living helped me move out of hospital and into living in the community.