A mental health survivor’s journey

From social isolation and hardship leading to Rampton Hospital, Paul turns his life around and becomes an active peer supporter passionate about sharing knowledge and experience in mental health.

My name is Paul Frazer and a very active mental health service user/survivor in Leeds.

When I was 16, I left school with no qualifications and felt like I let my family down. I would not leave the house and got really paranoid and it was really scary.

When I was 19, I started to hear voices telling me to harm myself and harm others so I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and was given medication. I recovered well after 3 months. There were no risk assessments completed as it was years ago and they didn’t really have them then.

After discharge I stopped taking my medication and I became unwell again. after a while I wouldn’t come out of the house.

People around me found out I had been in a ‘mental hospital’ and no one understood, even my family and friends that I would go the pub with started avoiding me or being mean. Everyone started calling me ‘mad Frazer’ and wouldn’t hang out with me.

Some years later I committed a serious offence and was admitted to top security Rampton hospital and was diagnosed with paranoid Schizophrenia. In Rampton it was very scary and I didn’t know what to expect, there was a really tough regime and it was expected that people went to lessons, took part in cleaning and cooking had a busy daily routine which helped me recover.

I did really well and after 3 years I was transferred to a low security hospital where I continued with having a busy regime. I passed my maths and English GCSEs. I was on a home office section and got of this through a tribunal but kept on getting a lot of support from my CPN social worker.

Eventually I moved to trust owned community hostel open unit. Risk assessments were carried out and at first I had a blip at is was so strange and I wasn’t used to being allowed to come and go as I pleased with little or no restrictions. I went to college to printing NVQ level3 and passed, I applied for jobs at various printers but didn’t get much of a response mainly due to my issues diagnosis and history.

So I set up a social enterprise 12 years ago with help from Leeds city council called design and print united which continues to support people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and other disadvantaged groups.

I have been living in the community for 12 years now. I see my consultant every 3 months and take Clozaril/Citalopram tablets which keep me extremely well. But this has side effects such as weight gain and I need regular blood monitoring every 4 weeks. When I am at the clinic the nurses check on my well being which is reassuring for me with this support. I am stable on medication living in the community.

I work voluntary attend service user meetings and try to give back to people who may be going through what I went through in the past. I have been through the mental health system and overcome many barriers and now I am giving back to society as a whole helping others to learn print/IT skills, having a voice for other service users, improving people’s lives, and sharing my experiences.

I do have a crisis plan; so if i feel unwell and in a crisis i do have contact numbers to ring as a safety net. This is also in my care plan so I know and others know what to do if this occurs.

I was involved in all of my care plan and know it works well for me. I have a good relationship with all of my workers.

Finally, I am very passionate around mental health. Thank you for reading