From left, students Taylor Bicknell, Kali Gabriel-Baptiste, and Denise Lalonde act out a skit during a recent presentation on psychosis and its symptoms.
Lyonel Doherty photo
There’s a fine line between having it all and having next to nothing.
That’s what SOSS students learned recently during a special assembly on how to deal with psychosis.
Members of Vancouver band “Proud Animal” got the message across with songs and comedy involving students.
Psychosis is a serious, but treatable brain condition affecting three per cent of youth aged 16-25. If properly diagnosed at early stages, medical treatment has the ability to not just turn young lives around, but to save them.
Band member Mike Young suffered serious depression in high school, where he fought paranoia (thinking everyone was watching him).
“I stopped going to school and stopped talking to friends and family. My friends were confused; they thought I was going through a teenage phase.”
Young said people often don’t know they are suffering from psychosis, which is a general loss of reality (having a hard time determining what is real and what isn’t).
Young said there was one fellow who enjoyed a good life with his own business, his own home and a wife. But she died and he couldn’t cope with that. He became a serious heroin addict and lost his home and business, and began living in shelters for the homeless.
Young said he personally climbed out of his own hell by seeing a doctor, taking medication and slowly changing his lifestyle. He noted that music was a huge influence in the transformation back to his mental well-being.
Band member Barbara Adler encouraged the students to watch out for any changes in their friends. Psychosis symptoms include: appearing withdrawn, not showing up for class, a change in personality (inappropriate emotions), poor hygiene, and sleep problems.
“The symptoms come on slowly, and it’s hard to know when to get help,” Adler said.
Another symptom of psychosis is hallucinations, both visual and auditory (hearing sounds or music). She said some people feel things on their body; things that aren’t there, but they believe it’s 100 per cent real.
Band member Gavin Youngash said some people with psychosis are even afraid to turn on the TV for fear of being watched.
Genetic vulnerabilities and environmental stressors are also big factors in psychosis, but people can counteract them by keeping active in music, art and dance, Adler said.
It was noted that having one symptom doesn’t mean a person is suffering from psychosis.
Young said there is a misconception that people with a mental illness are violent. “More cause harm to themselves than others. Fifty per cent report suicidal thoughts.”
Adler said anyone with a non-emergency medical problem can call 8-1-1 and talk to a trained nurse about the condition.
For more information about psychosis, visit www.reachoutpsychosis.com