Niall Aslam: ‘I was embarrassed to talk about my journey with psychosis due to stigma’

Niall writes for The Tab about his experiences and the early warning signs of psychosis

Just nine days into his stint in the Love Island 2018 villa, Niall Aslam had to be flown to a psychiatric hospital suffering with stress-induced psychosis. He writes for The Tab about his journey, the importance or recognising the early warning signs of psychosis and taking time to reflect on your mental health especially when you are under pressure.

My name is Niall Aslam and in 2018 I had a stress-induced psychotic episode. I’ll be real with you, before I had psychosis I really wasn’t very clued up about what it was until I wound up in psychiatric care with a nurse outside the door whilst I experienced delusions that some of the best fairy-tale and sci- fi writers would be proud of.

Deadline pressure, pressure on yourself, pressure from others, sometimes life really can be feeling like a Queen song. In moderation I believe pressure is needed to thrive in such a fast-paced society. However, at a certain point pressure isn’t creating diamonds, it’s destroying foundations which leads me onto the message of this article and that is at what point does taking a step back to breathe, reflect and analyse one’s own mental health become the step forward? I believe regularly.


For those like me that weren’t very clued up about what psychosis truly is, it’s defined as “a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality”. In more casual terms I lost my mind for a little bit and regaining it was a difficult recovery I would not wish upon my worst enemy, I mean maybe if it was Voldemort but from what I last saw of him he was looking like one of those alien eggs you used to stick on walls back in the day.

Psychosis can affect anyone from any walk of life, from actors such as David Harewood who has openly talked about his experience to people struggling with exam stress. Early treatment can be more effective, so recognising the early warning signs and symptoms can potentially save you from being in a situation like mine where reality takes on a whole new meaning and the crisis team is at your door in the mornings going through your anti-psychotic medications while you stare aimlessly into space.

So, what are the early warning signs of psychosis you should be looking out for within yourself or friends?

A big one to look out for and that I can relate to is social withdrawal – is your friend who is usually always up for a laugh and to hang out suddenly withdrawn and you’re not hearing from them anymore? Psychosis can make you feel really paranoid and feel like everyone one is out to get you, so you feel withdrawing from social situations seems like the best shout. If you recognise this is happening within yourself or see this sign within your friend you should reach out to your friend and if these are feelings you are experiencing you should call your GP, take it from me prevention is better than the long road to recovery.

Another huge warning sign of psychosis is hallucinations and delusions but that can something extremely hard to internally recognise. When you lose your sanity from my experience you feel saner than ever, but if you are able to recognise a change in your own thought pattern and delusional thoughts then it’s definitely time to seek help. This is an area I believe is easier to see in other people. I’m not talking about your friends thinking they are the next Michael Bublé after a pint – but when you can really see clear delusional thoughts and erratic behaviour in your friends, even though it can be an awkward situation seek help on their behalf. I definitely believe is the right step because once someone hits full-blown psychosis they are at a risk to themself and need to get help as soon as possible to aid a quicker recovery.

I was embarrassed at one point to talk about my experience and journey with psychosis as there is still a lot of stigma around it. However, it affects a lot of people directly and indirectly and I’m thankful to be in a situation and place in my life where I am able to speak about my experiences, on the chance there is one person out there struggling with these signs and symptoms or has a friend that is showing them and seeks the right help to enable a good recovery – or even better, prevent an episode.

You can find NHS information on psychosis here. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of psychosis, please contact your GP immediately.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably) on 0800 58 58 58. You matter.

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