Stigma Fighters: Rich James

Hi! My name is Rich and I live a happy life. I live with schizophrenia and depression daily, but enjoy my life to the fullest extent I can. It’s been a long road to get to this point, but I’d like to share my journey with you.

Back in 2001, I was working in a humdrum, mind-numbing office job. My role was to input the details of direct debits and standing orders for a popular high street bank. I used to type, at speed, with headphones on, listening to music all day, 5 days a week. The hardest part was that everyone around me was talking about me while I wasn’t listening. I knew they were doing it, for certain. This made me very sad, worried and uncomfortable. Whether they were really talking about me, or whether this was the start of my new life, I will never know. It was as real to me as anything ever had been, but with hindsight, I fear this was my new way of life emerging.

In the final quarter of 2001, in the office, it all suddenly and without warning became too much for me to bear. I broke down. I felt deeply and darkly low inside, lower than I had ever felt in my 27 years on Earth before. I felt broken, defeated and empty. With tears rolling down my face, I told my boss I had to go home, and made my way back to the flat I lived in with my wife, Sarah. Sarah was at home, working with a colleague when I arrived. I phoned her from the front door in utter desperation. She told me to wait around the back of the flat while her colleague left and it was safe for me to collapse in private.

However I appeared to Sarah that morning, she took my despair seriously and took me to see our GP that evening. He spoke to me for half an hour, then diagnosed depression and wrote me a prescription for some antidepressants. I was numb, but grateful that how I was feeling was being taken seriously. We returned home.

I spent the next year sleeping in the day and staying up all night in a daze. My medication was changed numerous times, until I finally regained a little control over my emotions. I thought I was on the mend and, although I had lost my job, I could get back to normality.

At this point, my paranoia would flare up violently, taking over my mind with conspiracy theories and thoughts of my loved ones dying around me. It was very hard to cope with, but I didn’t know what was wrong. One day, in early 2004, I was driving myself and Sarah back from a friend’s house. I stopped the car to allow a few people to cross the road, as I frequently did on this journey. Sarah asked me what I was doing. I explained. Her reply hit me hard. “What people?”, she said. “There’s no one there!”. I was confused. I could see 4 or 5 people crossing the road but Sarah couldn’t see them. What did this mean? This happened a few more times in quick succession. I started to believe Sarah and accept something was wrong with me. I had also begun to hear voices telling me to harm myself, quietly in the background of music or the television. I was cutting my arms daily in response to these voices, but they wouldn’t stop. The paranoia was getting worse too.

I had seen 3 psychiatrist’s by this point. All 3 had sent me on my way with a clean bill of mental health. The last appointment Sarah came with me, and Dr Psychiatrist told us both that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me but Sarah was a cause for concern as she didn’t hear voices or see hallucinations! I felt so very let down and despondent.

Sarah, with help from a friend’s father, researched what was happening to me on the internet. She took me to see our GP. After almost an hour of chatting, he bravefully and very helpfully diagnosed me with chronic schizophrenia and prescribed me risperidone – an antipsychotic medication.  Within a week of adjusting the dose, all my symptoms except the paranoid episodes had vanished. It was like stepping out of the dark into an all encompassing warm sunshine.

Now, in late 2014, I enjoy and appreciate the little things life brings. I’m a happy person. I still live with cycles of depression and high moods, but I have learnt to adapt my life. I still suffer from bouts of paranoia, but my wife keeps me in check. I go out of the house to work everyday and enjoy mixing with people. We don’t go out in our spare time, I feel safest at home and my wife has to change the bed most nights due to my night sweats, but we’re happy. It’s taken from when I started my antipsychotics in 2004 until now to learn to live, but I’m enjoying life so much.

In 2010, I began writing music again for the first time since my mid-twenties. I record now under the name All Star Motivator and have even had my music featured in a drama, a soap opera and an advert on TV in the UK. I am very proud of how far I have come, although I owe so much to Sarah. She is my guardian angel.  I now also run a record label in my spare time. My new single is a free download from http://pmusic.co/3P5X5N if you fancy listening.Life has proved to me that we can overcome, or at least fit in with, anything. Thank you for reading.

Life has proved to me that we can overcome, or at least fit in with, anything. Thank you for reading.

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I would like to introduce myself…
My name is Rich James. I’m a musician, songwriter and producer recording under the name of All Star Motivator. I compose across a broad spectrum of genres, mainly focusing on Electro synth pop songs and instrumental Dance styles (although I have released a children’s song about animals dancing for charity!). To date, my music has featured on TV in the UK in the drama Skins, the soap opera Hollyoaks and a trailer for comedy programmes. I also run, along with my wife, the label I am signed to, Pink Dolphin Music Ltd.I live in the West Midlands, UK with my wife and our 3 furry kitties.

 

Welcome to my music, I hope you enjoy. If you like what you hear, join me and help spread the word!

  • Helen White

    Wow. Way to go. Absolute complete and utter kudos to your wife and to you for persevering through all those psychiatrists. As I know it can be a hard process to find the right one and I’m so glad you have. Much respect for sharing your story, and many many thanks.

  • Allie Burke

    Beautiful story, Rich. Your journey will enlighten and inspire many people. The mental health community thanks you for being so open.

  • http://RachelintheOC.com/ Rachel Thompson

    Brave and beautiful. How wonderful to share your honesty and also that you have such a strong love and support from your Sarah. I wish you continued strength!