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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