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My Experience with Psychotic Depression: Part 2

In my last blog post ‘My Experience with Psychotic Depression: Part 1’, I wrote about how I became suicidally depressed and psychotic, which lead to a hospitalisation. In this post I will write about the changing point of my depression and how I got better. 

I was in hospital for two months until I was discharged. While in hospital I didn’t have any hallucinations, it was only that one time. The only person I told was my counsellor. I did remain paranoid for some time and refused to eat the hospital food (not that I had an appetite anyway) because I thought it might have been tampered with. I did lose quite a lot of weight and I was frequently weighed, which added to my resentment and hostility. 

The reason I was in hospital for so long was because I was commenced on a new anti-depressant. This was a risk because we knew this class of anti-depressants made me elevated, but so far nothing had worked and we had run out of options (except for ECT). I was willing to take the risk. The anti-depressant did work, but it worked too well and within two days I was manic and then the mania turned into a persistent mixed state. When I was discharged I was better than I had been when admitted but I was still recovering from the mixed episode and my moods remained unpredictable. 

I found it very hard to adjust after being hospitalised for so long and after one bad day I had had enough. My thoughts were in chaos. They were too fast and too macabre. I was so agitated and had too much restless energy but at the same time I was exhausted and just wanted badly to lie down. I wanted everything to stop, and I was going to make that happen. 

So I drove to the bluff near our house, a place where my thoughts always ended up during that time. It was a chilly evening and the sun was setting so no one was around which I thought was a good thing. I climbed over the guardrail. 

As I stood on the edge a female voice from behind called out to me. It belonged to a girl a few years older than me asking if I was OK. Hearing her sympathetic voice made me burst into tears and she coaxed me back onto the side of safety. She was so kind and friendly and listened to what I had to say through uncontrollable sobs (ironically she was called Summer). She spoke to me for over an hour in the dark and cold while I calmed down. By pure coincidence Summer knew my counsellor and worked in the psychiatry department at our public hospital (the hospital I work at). She called psych triage and I spoke to them. They gave me strategies to help calm the racing thoughts and I convinced them that I wasn’t going to carry out my plan or do anything risky. I got home safely that night and in the next few days I commenced my first course of ECT. I owe my life to Summer. 

The ECT pulled me out of the depression like nothing had done before and after the two week course I was pretty much back to normal. 

I had had eight episodes of severe depression previously and had not been psychotic. I don’t experience psychosis when my mood is euthymic or when I’m mildly/moderately elevated or depressed. When recently discussing this with my counsellor she said when people’s moods get so extreme they can experience psychosis. I guess my depression was pretty extreme and I think I’m extremely lucky to have survived it. 

That depression was exactly a year ago and it’s been a year since my last hospitalisation (a personal best since my diagnosis). Now that we know I have the potential to experience psychosis in both mania and depression we fight hard to prevent it with extra medication, self-management and ECT when needed. I didn’t have these weapons before, but now I do, and so far we’re winning. 

Sally also blogs for bp Magazine and has written for Youth Todayupstart and The Change Blog. To read more of her IBPF posts, click here.

Comments

What is ECT? These two articles perfectly related to what I have been going through, and I am desperate for any sort of help..

It's Electro Convulsive Therapy. In the distant past it was much more barbaric and got a terrible reputation and stigma. It's actually 80% effective, more so that medication. They used to put two electrodes on either side of the skull and send a current through it. Now they just do one side of the skull, put you under general anesthesia and give you something to bit on during the convulsion. There is some short term memory loss and after a few treatments people start feeling better right away. It usually starts out with three treatments a week, then down to two then to one a week and tapers of to maintenance at one a month. It may be the last house on the block but it is the most effective, rest assured.

What is E C T

ECT is electroconvusive therapy. For some people it has been helpful as a last resort when medications and therapy aren't enough. It has some side effects, most commonly memory loss. You can learn more about it in our webinar here: http://ibpf.org/electroconvulsive-therapy

We have some more blogs that talk about ECT that you can read here: http://ibpf.org/blog/ect 

There is also something new called TMS which is similar to ECT but less invasive and may have less side effects. We have a webinar coming up about that: http://www.ibpf.org/event/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-therapy-tms-...

Thank you so much for writing this. I literally thought my mom is the only one who has this disorder. My mom is going through an episode now and i feel like it is never going to get better. The last time she went through an episode which was several months ago, she recovered in one week. She is been taking medications for one week now and she did not get any better. I am VERY worried. How many exact months/weeks did it take u to recover?

Dear sally..psychosis depression disorder is not curable? But is it posible with medicine to live healthy without depression?

Dear all...i wana ask that in psychosis depressive disorder is it posible to live without relapse ?

I believe you can live without relapse although many Dr's may tell you it is uncommon. Someone very dear to me has been over 20 years since last episode. Unfortunately, there are triggers that can still cause the symptoms to return.

I suffered from what turned out to be bipolar disorder (on the depression end mostly) since I was eleven or twelve, but didn't get treatment till 23 and didn't get the right diagnosis till 25. I remember going through a few VERY bad depressive phases with some psychotic features.

I remember being convinced that my college professors and even all my friends secretly hated me. I didn't think they were plotting to kill me or anything like that, but I was sure they deeply loathed me. With one friend I recognized how kind and caring he was and knew this was inconsistent with hatred so I concluded, "He's such a nice person, he probably feels bad about the fact that he secretly hates me, and doesn't want me to know, so he acts extra nice to conceal his true feelings."

I remember also walking down the road and being sure that people driving by in their cars, whom I did not know from Adam, were saying awful things about me. For awhile I deliberately ducked behind trees and buildings as much as I could, trying to stay out of sight of the road, so as to avoid being gossiped about by the passing motorists.

I think I wasn't ENTIRELY out to lunch during these times, though, cause I also remember thinking "You had better not tell anyone about this or they will think you are crazy."

Thank you for sharing , my 76 year old dad has just been diagnosed with psychotic depression . It just came out of no where . So scary and sad too see him go through this . He’s been in hospital for 2 weeks now and they are still trying to get his meds figured out . And be certain this is his diagnosis . He had the drs and psychiatrist stumped . He’s very paranoid and has a problem eating the food and water as he thinks it’s been poisoned or tampered with . I usually show up with something to share with him to eat . He also gets so paranoid he will make us leave his room so we don’t get hurt or killed by the bad people . And thinks he’s going to get taken away and put in jail or just be done with . Also has the hallucinations with his sight and hearing. He thinks the vents in the room are speakers and our cell phones are bugged .also gets mean and violent. The security guards have gotten too know him well as he tries to escape the hospital . Then they have to restrain him , when he comes back to reality he talks about how the restraints scare him . We have a very strong family and will help him get through this .
My Christmas wish this year is to have him home for Christmas .
Again thank you for sharing .

Hi Shelley, I was saddened to read of your father's experiences as my 78 year old father has been through something very similar. He was sectioned and hospitalised for two months. Medication didn't work but after seven sessions of ECT he was deemed well enough to leave hospital. He's now 100% better and recovering well at home.

Hi

I have just been discharged from a 6 week stay in hospital for depression with psychotic features and have felt worse and more unwell day by day
I don’t know what to do and I feel i am relapsing to a place where I was before
The problem being I can’t fully recall all of my first episode

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