A HARDEN poet has bravely spoken about her journey to recovery after psychosis left her “paranoid” and “obsessed with delusions”.

Eva Slingsby, an English literature and philosophy student at the University of Birmingham, started experiencing symptoms in 2019 following a turbulent period of her life.

What is psychosis?

The NHS describes psychosis as a person losing some contact with reality and might involve seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see and believing things that are not actually true.

It can be caused by an existing mental health condition such as depression or bipolar disorder as well as traumatic events, stress, physical conditions and drug and alcohol misuse.

'My sentences genuinely did not make sense'

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Speaking now, as someone who recovered from those dark days, Eva has urged more people with the condition to talk to someone they love or a professional and reminded those struggling that they are never alone.

Eva told the Telegraph & Argus: “To me psychosis is, to be quite honest, going crazy. It affected me personally in every way because I was so confused that I just could not navigate day to day life. I was obsessed with delusions that my phone was being hacked, that people were speaking to me through the TV, that I had spiders inside my own body, all sorts.

“My personal story is that I had a particularly bad year. I split up with a long term boyfriend, lost a best friend and dated a guy that was bad news. Then, I went to London for the weekend, I'm pretty sure I got spiked.

“This whole thing ended up being too much for me and before I knew it, I was paranoid about things that didn't even make sense and speaking words that didn't make sense. Like my sentences genuinely did not make sense. 

“I was obsessed with the idea of being hacked and messaged people close to me absolute nonsense, to the point where they alerted my family. Luckily, after 10 days of hell, crawling around, being aggressive, showering obsessively, not sleeping and talking about crazy delusions I genuinely believed, I was put on an anti-psychotic drug- risperidone. 

“I was very susceptible to this drug thankfully, and it did help me get better much quicker. Within a couple of months I was well again, and a few months after that I was back to the usual Eva! 

“Talking and opening up has ensured I get the support I need from family and friends, helped me come to terms with what happened, and is now helping me ensure it doesn't happen again. I'm undergoing family therapy and this has been so useful for me already, to just reflect on what's happened now I've been well for a while. 

“Other things that helped me were exercise, when I was running I felt like I was running away from my problems, but in a liberating way. Also, good, home cooked food! My mum made sure I was fed heartily and healthily, and that helped nourish my body and mind.

“I took a leave of absence from September to December. I went back in January to do semester two, then went back to do the semester I finished in October 2020. I finished all teaching as of December, but still finishing off assignments. I will be finished at the end of February and graduated by June this year.”

Having been a writer for more than five years, Eva used her talent and found healing through the power of poetry.

The 22-year-old wrote candidly about what she described as a “shake up under the surface” in ‘Sufferer’ and the “crawling walls that weren’t there”.

Now she is raising awareness of how the condition affected her online by sharing some of the poems on her Instagram page, @evathepoet

“Poetry is my saviour through moments of darkness,” Eva said.

“In fact, sometimes I write a poem and it tells me how I'm feeling. I write something and I think oh wow, that's what I really feel, but I didn't know I felt that way. And this insight is invaluable to looking after my mental health because it helps me understand how I feel right now, and how I might feel in the near future. Also, simply getting the inner turmoil out on a page helps me purge that turmoil and free myself of any pain.

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“To anyone going through it right now, please seek help. You are not alone, there are professionals that do understand, and they can help your family understand too.

"To my younger self I would say, Eva you're stronger thank you think, you're capable of being sane, and you are normal. As my mental health nurse said to me, this can happen to anyone. I would say don't be ashamed or embarrassed, you got through it and rather than being upset it happened, be proud that you showed resilience in the face of desperately serious mental illness.”