Worth Living Ambassador Alex Campeau
Hi, my name is Alex, I’m 23 years old and am still going through a bumpy ride. I’m diagnosed with schizoaffective- depressed subtype, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a lot to swallow, but don’t think of them as disorders, think of them as personality traits. I have had three hospital stays and hope to have a smoother recovery than the one I am having now.
I was sixteen. That’s when things started to change. By change, I mean I was getting suspicious about people and their true intentions. To me they all meant to make me feel poorly about myself. Writing was the only escape. At first, they started out as just journal entries, but then they became my only method of speech. I would write endlessly until the school day was finished. I wrote about how much the world was a lie and that every action made by others was “fake” or “false”. My teachers became nervous around me and were worried about my endless writing. I had quite the grandiose personality but I didn’t show it. Everything was about me, Alex Campeau. I really was giving people a scare. I was seeing a psychiatrist, the school psychologist, my guidance councillor, and the vice principal on occasion.
When I was eighteen, I had classes in high school but I’d just go to them and after the lesson was taught, I’d leave and go to my “other” classroom where kids with troubles in school would go. There I wasn’t as scared but the anxiety and paranoia was becoming unbearable. The school psychologist and my guidance councillor came to the conclusion that I was psychotic. They made an appointment for me to get evaluated for a program called the On Track program. The On Track program was for people who were experiencing first episode psychosis. Anyway, I went to the appointment and lied. I told them that everything in my life was fine. They made a second appointment for me and I spilled the truth. I was a mess. In my head, home was a nightmare and so was the rest of the world. At one point I thought I was the antichrist and had powers.
At the On Track program I was assigned a nurse, a different psychiatrist and I was to attend groups there with the other patients. The groups involved things like walking group, cooking, gym, etc. I was the odd one out there due to my levels of anxiety and paranoia. My life took another turn when I had to call my father to take me to the hospital due to how I was feeling. For me it wasn’t just paranoia and anxiety, it was also depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. I was in the ER and without hesitation they got me a bed.
I was given a different psychiatrist and it was the same psychiatrist who dealt with me in my first hospital visit and in my second appointment at On Track. In most psych wards you have three options. You can either walk in circles, take meds that will make you tired, or make friends with the other patients. I had three good friends there who were my age and I trusted them. We would talk about our mental health which was a good subject for me because I don’t know how to talk about anything else. In the hospital, the nurses and my doctor told me to stop hanging around with my friends because the staff thought I was manipulating them, which of course I wasn’t. I always felt like the staff behind the nurse’s station were always talking about me and how I was a threat. Like I had done something wrong. I had thoughts like that all the time. Thinking I had harmed somebody without remembering it or robbing a bank, evading the police.
Those thoughts I had where I had done something wrong without remembering it, I thought they were so real.
houghts like that are a part of my OCD, well, It was like a psychotic OCD. Thinking that the number four would aid me in some way, thinking intrusive thoughts were reality. Anyway, I was discharged from the hospital after two and a half months of being there. I was sent to the Royal Mental Health Centre for some more testing and they were thinking I had schizoaffective disorder. I was introduced to the head of the schizophrenia program (yes another psychiatrist) and he thought the same. I remember my mother asking my doctor what he saw in me and I remember these words, “I see a young man being terrorized by his own thoughts”. I asked to be admitted and my doctor agreed right away. There were two schizophrenia wards, Schizophrenia North, and Schizophrenia South. I was in Schizophrenia South.
The Royal was amazing. I really liked my doctor and I know he cared about his patients. In the Royal, I was thinking I could read thoughts and that others could read mine. I was too paranoid to eat with the others so I remained in my room. I was also very depressed. The depression was the reason I was so skinny, I never ate. So they gave me two Ensures a day. Ensure is basically a meal replacement drink. So I had two of those and three meals a day. What was great about the Royal was the activities. Remember how I mentioned there were only three options in the hospital? This hospital had tons of options. There was walking group, gym, cooking, computers, and so much more. The one bad part was the medications. I felt like a lab rat sometimes because of all the meds they were trying on me. The most effective medications were Clozapine, Clonazepam, and Lexapro. The Clozapine slowly made me see things for how they were. I wasn’t “cured” but I was more like the Alex everyone knew at fifteen years and younger.
After nine and a half months of being there I was much better. But to this day I do not answer the door because my psychotic OCD would tell me that the person has a gun or when the phone rings I’ll think it’s the police after me. I did hear voices before that would only say my name and see a person who couldn’t have possibly been there. It was a very scary time. Going through that psychosis really ruined my life. I had lost all my friends, lost self- confidence, and I’m am lost. But I am close to being found. I only have one friend who had gone through something horrible like I had. But that’s all I need at this moment. I am still struggling, but I’m still alive and moving forward.
Now I use running and exercise as a coping mechanism. I face my problems head on and strong. I feel like I have a purpose in life and to all of you who don’t think they have a purpose in life, think about all the horrible crap going on and help others using that crap. Survive it and help someone who is feeling how you felt. Give someone else a life worth living.