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.