When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia I was, effectively, consigned to the scrapheap. Despite my history of trauma, no-one felt brave enough to tackle this with me directly. I was deemed unsuitable for psychotherapy because of my trauma and all I got was a lousy CBT booklet helping me make sense of my anxiety. Those few nurses, OTs and support workers who were interested in the content of my voices and visions – and wanted to understand their meaning – were quickly shouted down by a culture that deemed them pathological. I was one of those voices too – having learnt about my ‘illness’ I no longer wanted to talk about them or understand them. I wanted a pill to make them go away.
ISPS, in my view, exists to change this culture – showing that psychological therapies can be used safely for people who, like me, struggling with overwhelming realities. Peer support, attachment based psychoanalytic psychotherapy, humanistic therapy, art therapy and the nourishment of human connection found in the voluntary sector have been essential parts of my recovery journey and helped me take back my life from a diagnosis that no longer defines me.
ISPS UK is a melting pot of different ideas, background, perspectives and practice. There are few places that someone, like myself, can engage in a lively respectful debate about different ways of conceptualising psychosis with a psychiatrist, therapist and psychologist over after-dinner drinks. Last year’s Residential Conference gave me this opportunity and, at that moment, it struck me that ISPS is searching for an equality and dialogue that is all too often missing in mainstream mental health care.