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David was a busker. He was a good busker too. He liked to perform contemporary folk songs, his favourite being Bob Dylan but also wrote his own material. He was a bright boy. He busked on street corners with nothing to collect money in sight. He didn’t want money. He was content to see people tapping their feet and smiling as he scraped by on his disability pension, living in his caravan on the outskirts of town.

David had been a heavy cannabis smoker since his late teens and was diagnosed with a drug induced psychosis when he was thirty four. He was now fifty. David was divorced with one child who he lost access to in a nasty custody battle in his forties. It still haunted him.

When he was feeling alright David did as many people with mental health issues did and didn’t take his medication. This is when things went wrong for him. He would become disheveled and generally not look after himself. He would also start drinking. Due to the fact that his medication took a long time to clear from his system, they would interact with the alcohol. This would often see him behave irrationally and get arrested for being drunk and disorderly, something that went against his normal, gentle nature.

One day it all got too much for David. He had been off his medications for three days and awoke thinking vividly that his marriage was still intact. When reality kicked in it hit him hard. He was devastated. Even after all of these years he was still in love with his ex wife and in his confused state felt that he couldn’t go on. He unhooked a small gas cylinder from outside of his caravan, took it inside and switched it on. After letting it fill the caravan with fumes he lit a cigarette. The caravan went up in smoke.

By some major miracle David survived. He suffered only first degree burns to his forearms and chest and smoke inhalation. After spending a week in the burns unit he was transferred to a psychiatric ward and placed on his previous medications.  Due to the fact that his normal medications were still in his system it only took David a few days to return to his normal self. He was discharged after a week. Two weeks later David was back to writing his music and out on the streets busking.

Lesson to be learned? Take your medication as described. Your psychiatrist knows your mind better than you ever will as they have objectivity and expertise on their side. You don’t.