Brandon’s Real Story

Brandon was a 20 year old man whom I first met in the emergency department when he was acutely psychotic, and then later I got to know him in more detail in the psychiatric ward where I worked.  He was using illicit drugs like marijuana and methamphetamines regularly before his admission and eating a extremely poor diet. He had drug induced psychosis and probably schizophrenia and as you can imagine – was extremely unwell.  One of the medications he was on had a common side effect of weight gain and as a result of this and his poor lifestyle he was putting weight quite quickly after his admission, he went from 75kg to 100kg in 3 months.

He had no interest in changing his diet at first.  He had no interest in stopping cigarettes or drugs.  And he did not engage with therapy well. Things were not looking good for him.

One day myself and one his counsellors sat down with him.  I asked him what he liked, and really mean – anything he liked at all.  One of the hallmarks of psychotic disorders and depression is a lack of enjoyment in anything whilst unwell.  Hence, as expected, he said “nothing”. So I probed further, I asked him what kind of movies he liked to watch or what he liked when he was young.  He said “national geographic docos” because he loved mountains and climbing. So we talked about it and we organised him to attend a local rock climbing class supervised and bush walking.

He didn’t do the bush walking immediately but he did try the rock climbing.  After the first class he came back and said to me “wow, I am so unfit, I need to quit smoking”.  This was the first win. The more active he become, the more interested in his own health he became.  He then became interested in his own nutrition and I taught him a lot of things I am teaching you. Despite having a severe mental illness and being on medication that causes weight gain, he still lost that 25kg and went back to his normal weight, but this time it was a healthy lean and fit 75kg.  Of course all of this improved his mood and mental health and his general motivation for life.

Things were now looking much better for Brandon.