Spinning The Wheels

My story starts back when I was studying for my mock GCSEs in late 2012. I wasn't a 'Grade A' student, however, I had a good head and knew exactly what I wanted to do in life, which was to become a music producer.

Shortly after I took my first mock exam in English, I started to get very nauseous in public and was encountering a lot of headaches where I would stress myself out from coursework. I started to hear voices that would command me to be violent physically and verbally towards to staff members and other students, including my friends.

The head of my year became very concerned for me following a review of my behaviour and asked my mum to take me to the GP to ask for counselling. I remember that day very well, as that was the start of my mental health journey.

The GP told me that I was very unwell and I needed to be referred to CAMHS (Children and Mental Health Services) to seek specialist psychiatric help and that counselling was not sufficient for my treatment. She went on to further say that there was a 3-6 month wait for CAMHS assessments in my area.

Surprisingly, I was assessed within 3 hours of my referral from my GP by a specialist named Dr Nairac and I was to see this man for the next 3 weeks, trialling different approaches to my triggers. I was prescribed an antipsychotic medication and was told to go back to school and continue my studies.

I lasted 1 week on the antipsychotic medication before things got to breaking point and I was admitted to South London and Maudsley's Woodlands House; a specialist psychiatric hospital for children and young teenagers between the ages of 12-17. 

I found life tough on the ward. I was over 50 miles away from home, removed from social media and the music world and kept around other people living with mental ill-health 24/7. It was difficult because if one person was having a bad time – the whole ward had a bad time. Drugged up on olanzapine, I was really suffering from the side effects and found it extremely difficult to communicate with healthcare professionals about the medication.

I felt that I wasn't listened to and every time I complained my medication was changed, I have been prescribed over 8 different antipsychotics and over 5 SSRIs (Anti-Depressants) altering my chemical imbalance in ways I cannot describe.

I was admitted in June 2013 and I was fully discharged in February 2015. I was in specialist care for 12 months over a 3 year period. 

My diagnosis was F.29 Unspecified until January 2015, a consultant decided to review and re-diagnose my illness as an unspecified Anxiety & Psychotic disorder, a forever lasting label that I will never truly understand. The whole process of mental health services broke me, I felt colourless.

When I came out in February, the family relationship broke down and I became homeless. I was living in a park and kept warm using the leaves on the ground. Porchlight (A homeless charity in south-east England) picked me up and provided me with a place to stay where I would start to rebuild my life. 

I am now a professional DJ working with a numerous amount of labels in the Drum and Bass industry and I am about to celebrate my 6th year as a music professional. 

I am also an Application Manager for a charity that supports people living with cancer named, Your simPal. I crossed paths with the co-founder and Chairlady, Blair Papworth in late 2015 and she took me in as her own and has given me fantastic opportunities within her businesses and the charity that I know I would not get anywhere else. I do consider myself as one of the lucky ones coming out of specialist care. 

I also live with my girlfriend in our flat by the sea in Kent, something that I take great pride in.

From my experiences with life on the ward, and the care and trauma I went through. I aim to make a difference in the quality of care for mental health patients. As we are aware the NHS is lacking resources and is struggling, but you wouldn't send a person who's having a heart attack 200 miles away to receive treatment, so why should mental health patients? 

My name is Steven Evans, and I am living with mental health.

Steven has shown time and time again that when life throws everything at him, he's taken it on the chin and got up again. Have you been through the mill in terms of diagnosis (or misdiagnosis)? How did you cope with it? Are you still waiting for a diagnosis? Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to keep up-to-date with Steven, you can follow him on Twitter, where he's @XperienceMental