Author: Jeffrey Johanishing
Please note: This blog is based upon and includes Jeffrey’s experiences with psychosis and recovery, and therefore, are informed by his own personal account and coping strategies. No two individuals have an identical experiences, so please note that you may not run into these issues or find all these tools successful. If you have any further questions about this subject or your treatment plan, please reach out to your psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or a medical professional.
First of all, congratulations! Take a deep breath of relief! Smile with bright eyes and take a bow! You did it! You did something extremely challenging and you deserve to feel good about yourself for your accomplishment. What many people don’t or can’t realize is that you were banished to toil in the pits of your personalized nightmare, that you mustered courage to slay all it’s tormenting demons and that you emerged from that fiery muck as a hero in victory. You survived psychosis and you’re a Champion in my eyes! And you did it all by being strong, courageous, noble and sensible. Great! But, now what?
Well, at first, expect to be over the moon with delight for getting your mind back! It was always there, but akin to a computer’s operating system, it was full of metaphorical bugs, errors and viruses. But now it’s back! Better than before ever. And now you can appreciate that a healthy mind IS one of the most precious things imaginable. After that though, you might hit some low points.
For me, a sense of shame followed. Normally, I’m fairly sensible and rational in my daily life. So, I thought, “how did I let all this happen?!” I took too much responsibility for my illness and it was nearly a year into my recovery that I finally accepted that it wasn’t my fault. Then came a long period of introspection.
Along my recovery, I was fascinated by how messed up my mind became and why I had the delusions that I did. I ruminated and pondered what my bizarre experiences revealed about the person that I am. This was mildly useful, but ultimately wasn’t effort well spent. I now think that psychosis, with the analogy to a misbehaving PC OS, simply jumbles things somewhat randomly. So, if true, this makes extracting useful insights very challenging. Tread lightly here.
Then, get used to letting it all go. Is that even possible? Well, no. Not really. But, you’ll forget those things eventually with time, whether they were extremely awful or unbelievably great. And that’s okay. If you really want to hold on to those memories, start a journal and write out your experiences in as much detail as you like. This could be a useful coping skill and may even allow you to see patterns to find beneficial personal insights from your experience.
Ultimately though, you can give yourself this following goal: Aim to trust your mind, your emotions and your instincts again! You’ve been through a lot, far more than a lot of people can guess or appreciate. So, expect that you may be anxious when experiencing your daydreams, memories, contemplation, assumptions, irrationality and disturbances even while in a well/recovery-state. This is all normal. Everyone goes through this. Yet, for us, it can trigger nasty flashbacks. Give it time. But do have the goal in mind of, eventually, trusting your mind again.
Lastly, do the right things for yourself. Set reasonable schedules, be organized, eat well, work well, play well and sleep well. Take good care of your physical and emotional well being. Basically, do what your grandma would tell you to do and don’t mess with things she’d warn you about. So, take it slow, have reasonable expectations, learn useful coping skills, create a healthy lifestyle and get back to living your life again as a new (and improved) you!
Jeffrey Johanishing (PN) is a pharmaceutical chemist, medical device inventor, best-selling novelist, mental-wellness blogger and, now, aspires to become a psychiatrist. Jeffrey, born in Romania under Ceaușescu’s dictatorship, fled to Canada to have a secure life. Fueled by a thirst for knowledge, Jeffrey came to earn a BScH, MSc and PhD at Canada’s top universities. And since 2009, he has been developing new diagnostics and therapies for fighting cancers. With a rewarding career, a loving wife and plenty of hobbies, Jeffrey was leading a near-perfect life. Little did anyone, including his family of M.D.’s, know that Jeffrey’s life would change forever.
In fall 2019, Jeffrey was struck by a psychotic episode, later to be revealed as a consequence of bipolar disorder type I mania. His mind was inundated by powerful delusions. Eventually, Jeffrey lost that precious innate ability to know who he was and what was happening. But, as a near-miracle, medication saved the day and Jeffrey was back to his normal life within months. After his recovery, Jeffrey produced an inspirational Tumblr blog (things-to-be-chipper), and even recounted his experience with psychosis in vivid details to achieve #1 Best-Seller status on Amazon Kindle (Manic Depression) with “This might sound crazy, but . . .” Now, Jeffrey strives to share his insights on “psychosis recovery” in the hope of empowering and inspiring our bipolar community.