What's been most helpful?

It's probably been multiple things together. A big thing has been opening up to other people. Previously I wouldn't talk about issues. Also support from my friends, my family, and from those at the Early Intervention Service. And picking up new hobbies and trying things out, such as learning guitar and starting volunteer work.

Pulling myself out of the situation I was in and moving to Wellington was important. Otherwise I would have left hospital and probably got back into smoking weed and the same relationships. I didn't really want to leave — it was a hard decision. I was saying to myself "I've hit some sort of rock bottom and I need to make a move". I had to listen to what my friend was telling me to do.

Here I have been getting used to getting emotional support from my friends and the family I am staying with. It's different to how I grew up where my family emotionally opened up to me and I had to help them. Here they gave me a place to live and helped me find a volunteer job that I enjoy. They've helped me out tremendously. Sometimes they're 'harsh' on me but sometimes I need it I mean 'harsh' in an assertive way, a more normal way. It's taken me a while to adjust to that.

The importance of music

Music is super-important to me. It helps me experience emotions related to past events but in a different light. Music takes on heaps of topics and brings up stuff related to those topics. By the way it's composed and the way the instruments are played it can have quite a different effect. Especially music by the band "Tool" — in a track called 'Culling Voices' it strikes home that it's about imagined interplay, imagined conversations. It's cool that it connects to some of the things I went through. It starts as a soft slow song talking about 'psychopathy' — it brings back the shock of the memories of past events whilst I can relate to the music. Then the way it gets heavier helps connect me with an ability to want to deal with those emotions. I keep finding new things I love about their music. A good example is a track I like about being in the moment, about celebrating being alive and breathing.

What I've learnt

A big thing for me is that I never stopped to think about all the negative things that would happen to me from the way I was living. Finding a strong sense of hope has been huge. And becoming aware of how I think, you know, my thought patterns and turning them around.

Drugs is a hard one — it's like we have a mental health problem disguised as a drug problem. It's hard to break it down but I would use drugs to pull me out of depression but they got me into psychosis. I realise I can't rely on drugs and alcohol to give me happiness it's short-lived. It feels like it's fixing the problem and I can feel I'm almost complete and emotionally great. But what goes up must come down.

Psychosis is fundamentally terrifying, traumatic and all that stuff. But I wouldn't be here, doing so well, and being who I am today if I hadn't been through it. It messed me up and gave me anxiety problems but it's meant I've come to a great city, with a great home and with great people. It's given me a lot more.

I have talked about it with a friend who has experienced anxiety — she feels anxiety has made her a more empathetic person and I feel the same in terms of my experience. Experiencing psychosis has helped me see other people's perspectives and relate more to others. Something clicked and now I understand about relating to people. After psychosis and anxiety happened for me, I really understood what a friend had been going through with their anxiety, not just in a 'knowing' way but in an emotional sense.