In this blog, Kedrh Haibeh tells the story of her journey from service user on secure wards and later with CERT, to working as a forensic recovery worker in our Specialist Community Forensic Team.
I came into using Sheffield Health and Social Care Services in 2007 when I had my first episode of Psychosis and depression and had a short stay on Maple Ward Longley Centre then got moved onto Stanage Ward because that covered my Postcode and was the nearest hospital to where I lived at the time.
I had problems sleeping and was neglecting myself throwing food in the bin believing it was poisoned and my family became concerned because I had lost a lot of weight.
While I was in hospital I was given Medication to stop my paranoid thoughts as well as sleeping tablets. It was thought that because I worked nights and had a problematic neighbour I just needed to rest and recover.
I was given a social worker and a time and recovery worker who encouraged me to eat, go out, and take part in group activities in the community. I stopped working nights and moved into an area nearer to my family.
I felt fine for nearly 10 months, but then I did not renew my prescription and slowly started to become unwell again. The medication they had given me earlier worked and I was never told I could feel worse than before without medication. My social worker at the time said I did not have to take anti-psychotic medication forever. But I was on and off medications for years and using NHS services.
However in 2011 I was looking after my dad and he was ill and about to go into a home for the elderly. I put him into a home and this was a very stressful time for me and culturally I felt a responsibility to care for my relatives and be a carer. All this made me feel very unwell and suicidal, I felt I was not alone in my home and by this time had been off antipsychotics for six months. I started hearing voices and thought the TV was broadcasting my thoughts. I ended up Burning my curtains, being arrested and later a secure hospital on a section 37 hospital order and 41 restrictions meaning I must take medication voluntarily or they could use force as I was very unwell.
Medication worked well for me and within weeks I was back to my old self eating and drinking every day. I deeply regret burning my curtains and damaging my council flat and now could clearly see the consequences of going cold turkey off an anti-psychotic medication.
while in secure hospital I finally got a diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia and now understand why I felt so bad after medication. The doctor told me I suffered from paranoia and my brain works too fast meaning I overthink things, medication slows down my thoughts and I can see clearly and rationally.
After I left the secure hospital I started to attend a drop in at Hillsborough and volunteered at SHSC. I enjoyed several years attending the drop in and making new friends who understood me and mental health in general and were not judgmental.
While living in the community I was supported by CERT (the Community Enhancing Recovery Team) and I volunteered as a lived experience expert on job interviewing panels and saw what great work the interviewees did for me and could see myself doing this kind of work. Over the years I always wanted to work at the drop in at Limbrick as a paid member of staff – however no paid jobs were available like peer support, just the specialists like Doctors and Nurses.
I always wanted to be a peer support worker but never got the job in that field – however a role became available in a new team called the Specialist Community Forensic Team. They were looking for recovery workers and I applied. Lucky me! I finally got the job within the SHSC Trust and became a forensic recovery worker helping other clients who were stuck in hospitals all over South Yorkshire move on with their lives and settle down. I feel like I am giving back after the great support and kindness shown me whilst using NHS services.
Also I feel I can give hope to other service users on mental health sections and who have been stigmatized in the past – that there is light at the end of the tunnel and they can get better. And achieve the goals and dreams with or without a diagnosis.
I enjoy my job and achieved more in life after diagnosis than before. I just want everyone to know that there is hope for everyone, despite difficult circumstances and obstacles people might face.