Lived Experience Speaker, Trainer, Researcher, and Advisor
Living with psychosis

Although he has three generations of mental health conditions within his family, Jason Grant never thought that he would personally be affected by a mental health condition. Then, he was diagnosed with psychosis. Now, Jason says his life is exactly where it needs to be, and he has been making significant progress in the mental health field for the past five years. Jason is a research associate at the University of Manchester working on a study looking at the ethnic inequality in severe mental health conditions.

Jason’s Story

Briefly, how has your condition impacted your life? What was your most difficult time? 

My experience closed the door on a career within criminal justice and has opened a new door in the field of mental health.

Unfortunately, I have three generations of mental health conditions within the family. I never thought that I would be personally affected and never paid too much attention to mental health outside of my family context.

I had three separate psychotic episodes before I realized that I had a problem. The first was in Brazil, the second in the Czech Republic (where I was admitted to hospital in Prague), the third in Sussex (where I was in hospital in Eastbourne and Worthing).

I initially thought that my life as I knew it was over. To not be in control of thoughts, feelings, and sensations is not something that I would wish on my worst enemy.

My most difficult time was being on a 136 section, knowing that I had lost all control of my mind, being monitored from a seclusion window all day, then being put to sleep at night.

What is your life like now? 

As I write this, I look out of my window to watch the sea glisten from the afternoon sun. My life has transformed for the better and now I take active steps to maintain a positive outlook on life.

I now know the value of gratitude, kindness, savoring, mindfulness, sincere appreciation, love and passion.

What help or specific strategies helped you to get well and move to stability?   

After coming out of hospital, I received help from the crisis intervention team who monitored my progress for two weeks. Afterwards I received a referral to the Early Intervention Service who supported me for just over three years in both Glasgow and Sussex.

Fundamentally for me, I had to recognize and realize that mental illness is real and that I had a problem to deal with. Once I had that realization, I had to ask for help and take direction from the mental health professionals in my life.

I have a love and hate relationship with medication, had some psychotherapy, completed recovery college courses, got involved in research studies as a participant, and fully engaged with my care coordinator.

What do you do to manage your condition and stay healthy on an ongoing basis?

I try to check in with myself throughout the day and allow plenty of “me time.”

My morning routine consists of saying something positive to myself before getting out of bed. I go for a jog outside and make myself a nourishing bowl of porridge.

Throughout the day I will do some meditation through my phone and take breaks from work after every hour.

I try to go for a walk outside just to stretch my legs and will message at least one person outside of my household to make a connection.

Most evenings I will prepare and cook a meal, have some quality time with loved ones, and remember to take my medication before going to sleep.

Are there positives that have come from having a mental health condition?  If so, what?

The main positive for me is that I have far more empathy for people these days and know not to judge people too harshly on their actions as one can never know what is going on for people.

The other positive is being connected to others who have gone through similar experiences and are managing to thrive in their lives.

How has your condition impacted your work and your career? 

I had to take my career in a new direction away from criminal justice towards mental health. I initially did not have a clear idea about what I would go on to do but once I was engaging with mental health services, I realized that I was interested in improving outcomes for people going through the system, so I got involved where I could.

In the UK, we have a patient involvement program in my local mental health trust. I volunteered for about a year and was paid to sit on interview panels and give my views on focus groups.

I then got a job with the Department for Work and Pensions as a mental health community partner, which enabled me to understand how the whole system works. After that contract came to an end, I got a job as a research associate at the University of Manchester working on a study looking at the ethnic inequality in severe mental health conditions. I am also an advisor for a number of mental health boards.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?  

You may not be fully able to understand in the moment of extreme crisis, but the acute episode will pass. Once you are able to process again, reach out and ask for help. Keep asking until you get the answer you deserve and know that with the right support, it is possible to find meaning and purpose whilst living with a mental health condition.

What motivated you to join The Stability Network?  What do you hope to get from it?

I saw a talk online with a representative from the Stability Network who peaked my interest and made me look at the website.

I hope to be able to connect with people outside of my immediate frame of reference and learn from other advocates across the pond, so to speak.

Are there resources (books, videos, websites) that helped and/or inspired you that you would recommend to others?

This resource from The British Psychology Society on Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia is invaluable.