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Let’s Talk Psychosis

Why don’t we talk more about psychosis from bipolar disorder? 

I am an avid reader. I read a ton of articles and blogs written by bipolar mental health advocates. What I’ve recently realized is that there is a lot written about mania and depression, but not much shared about psychosis. If there is stigma about the ups and downs of bipolar disorder, then there is super stigma attached to psychosis. 

Why do I want to talk about it? 

I am a person who has been impacted by psychotic symptoms. In fact, I have been hospitalized nine times because of psychosis. It is a real concern for some of us who live with bipolar disorder. I have read that not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences psychosis, but about 70% do. 

Any times I have had rather dramatic stories to tell, these stories were a result of psychosis. One time I almost lost my life by getting lost in the forest. If I had known more about the risks of bipolar disorder psychosis, I believe that I could have done a better job of managing my illness. I simply did not know enough about it. 

But who wants to step up to the plate and discuss psychosis more openly, honestly, and courageously?

I believe that the more we are willing to discuss our illness with honesty and openness, the quicker we will eliminate this super stigma that exists.  No one wants to be considered as “crazy,” “psycho,” “looney,” “wacko,” or “nuts.” But that’s not what psychosis is anyhow. Psychosis is losing touch with reality, and there is always an underlying cause that makes this happen. Bipolar disorder is one potential cause of psychosis, but psychosis is much more common than people think.

Recovering from a psychotic episode

The times I have had psychotic episodes, I have been very fortunate and responded well to medications, though sometimes it took weeks for the “cobwebs” to clear. I needed a little extra time to clear my head and distinguish between what was real and what was not. Ultimately, I always – and I do mean always – recovered.

I write this because I want people who have experienced a psychotic episode to know that they are not alone. There is no need to have shame or judgment. This is an illness and it is not our fault.

Personally, I have looked at psychosis like a big, red warning sign that says, “Learn to manage the illness and prevent these episodes,” and “Take bipolar disorder seriously.” In my experience, if I keep mania and depression under control, then I will not experience a psychotic episode.

As far as the super stigma – let's start talking more about psychosis. I know I am not crazy, and neither are you.

Read more of Amy's posts here.

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Comments

Through it all I have accepted my reality and begun to "doubt the doubt"...

"Personally, I have looked at psychosis like a big, red warning sign that says, “Learn to manage the illness and prevent these episodes,” and “Take bipolar disorder seriously.”"...

But look at your situation and I mean really look at it. You may well be putting in 100% honest effort in managing your illness and taking it seriously. Doing everything you can possibly do to keep it under your control. Psychosis can still happen despite all of your efforts. It is not a warning sign that you are not doing enough. It is simply a symptom of bipolar disease. Do not feel guilty for having a symptom! Don't let an appearance of a symptom make you feel like you are failing at managing your disease! When people with cancer, epilepsy, or cystic fibrosis have symptoms, they probably don't blame themselves for not preventing their illness and you shouldn't either.

In the past I was hospitalized three times for psychosis. I fear ever having another episode now that I am married. I fear my husband would not understand and leave me.

I once had a psychosis which culminated in paranoia and a conviction that someone would come between my husband and I.I had a panic attack fallling to the floor while relaying this to my husband on the telephone.
I walked dazed and confused into my sons room where he was playing a computer game and there were subliminal messages coming from the screen thankfully positive messages saying 'the future is bright' and Look to the future'so I wasn't afraid.
I then became convinced that my deceased mother was on the lane outside the house.I heard the front door close and I was afraid to look out as I didn't want to see her but I knew she was there.I looked st the television and on the screen was Sports program however thinly veiled over this was a vase of daffodils standing on the bench of a hospital bed.The same room where Mum recovered in her final days after her operation.
As I approached the window I closed my eyes and saw her vividly in my minds eye on the lane with her little shopping bag and long coat.
As soon as my husband burst through the door anxious to quell me I started blankly through him and for the rest of the day tinkered on the piano playing The Coolin (not having played it since mum died some 14years before).
I also felt very afraid of my four year old daughter who appeared to be speaking in tongues..
A day or two later I returned to 'normal'.I am bipolar and it has been such h a relief to know and be on the right medication.Hx

I feel the same. I'm just waiting for my Kids to be 18,Then I'm gone for good.

Found out on Friday after 30yrs of trying every possible med combo & every type of counseling that I'm medication resistant. My psychiatrist said there's nothing else he can do. I've fought for so long with a tiny bit of hope & it's now gone. . No hope left, I've tried everything. I'm done

There is always hope. I am also bipolar and I won't allow myself to believe otherwise. If you ever need to talk I am here.

Thank you for speaking out about this. I believe reality is something that has an effect, a result. Psychosis is part of reality for someone with a mental illness. It is as real as a dream, a memory or a reflection. As real as an opinion, as a headache, as pain. Just because others don't experience the same perception at the same time does not make it untrue. It is about chemical imbalances in the brain, like mental poison in the head. People with psychosis should not be looked upon as scary, or even odd. They should be admired as survivors of something that most can relate to more than they want to admit. Everyone gets irrational from time to time. Like in bipolar disorder, irrationality is brought about by mood in people without diagnosed mental illnesses all the time. Why do we have to pretend like we're all so different? Why do we believe the lie that some people have more problems than others? We all face lots of problems every day. Everyone is different. Everyone is unique. We have so much more in common than we have that singles us out. Stigma is the power to make someone a stranger. You are right that we do it to ourselves when we hide our illness. When we hide we begin to hate ourselves. When we hate ourselves, others sense it and look for the reason. We must love ourselves and love each other first.

I love to see fellow Bipolars who know their strength and worth. Its comments like this that will strengthen others as well....

Thank you for your calm tone and objectivity. Your resilience surprises me after 9 hospitalizations. I have only had one and it shattered my confidence. Your positive attitude is encouraging.

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