By Andrea Watson, February 13, 2021
We’ve all heard the word “psychotic” used in everyday language before. It’s a word that doesn’t get tossed around too often, but often enough that it is misunderstood. To be fair, many things in the world of psychology are misunderstood. Psychosis is a symptom of an underlying disorder. The disorder is usually severe and long-lasting. Examples include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But what exactly is psychosis like, and how can you recognize it? This is what will be looking at today. I know that my list of mental health disorders is long, and I’ve told you about several of them. But because I am officially a lifestyle blogger who focuses on mental health, I have no qualms about sharing my struggles with you. I think I’ve told you before that my official diagnosis as of right now is bipolar 2 disorder with psychotic features. At least, that’s one of my diagnoses. My case is not some outlying piece of data. It is very common for mental health disorders occur comorbidly for the individual. Some disorders just even seem to go hand in hand. So let’s go!
Recently, I accidentally went off my meds. I truly didn’t mean to this time, but then again I didn’t really make an effort to get back on them when I should have. This happens regularly, because some of the voices I deal with are convinced that my antipsychotic medication is poison and they throw it away unless it comes in the form of an injection. So every month I get a shot to keep me level. Since the covid outbreak, appointments have not been being done inside of buildings where I live. They’ve been done over the phone. It’s been very easy for me to forget a phone appointment for me or for my son or for anything. This is what happened. So I was off my meds for about a month and a half. After my injection wore off and I missed my appointment, I didn’t bother to try and get in for another injection because by that time, I was in this delusional thinking pattern that I don’t need meds to be okay, which is a huge lie.
Now, I’ve had the symptom of psychosis for many years and this is common in people who have it. In my mid twenties I had a dream that stuck with me forever. It was extremely realistic and I was going through changes in my spirituality. I was also dreaming about things that were coming true in the days following. This is a whole different subject I’m just painting a picture here. This dream was so visceral that it is still pretty much as clear as it was the next morning when I woke up. I wrote the dream down, and later I painted it on canvas. so this dream has been really important to the timeline of my life. I kind of look back on it when certain things happen because they match up in a freaky, weird sort of way. This dream has become my alternate reality.
During my last bout of psychosis, I experienced a period of time during which I thought I knew for sure what was about to happen. Specifically, war. and it just so happened that this episode of psychosis coincided with the storming of the Capitol on January 6th and the political upheaval that surrounded it. So events in real life we’re actually contributing to my delusions in a way that had never been done before. Because of this, it was different. A whole new kind of experience. I started shopping for food that I could keep without refrigeration. I bought a lot of cans. I bought emergency candles, flashlights, first aid items, and other things in preparation for the event. I even explained everything to my best friend and my boyfriend and they actually believed what I was saying. They believed that the event was about to happen as well. They started preparing too.
At this point I had no idea that I was actually psychotic. I thought I was doing just fine off my meds, because I hadn’t had any symptoms that I was aware of. I thought everything was going to be smooth sailing. But when my best friend and I did a meditation together, he told me that he thought the timeline was something that was existing in another reality and not in ours. That was the breaking point of this episode. I realized that I was in fact psychotic. And as soon as that realization hit me, I began tumbling through some sort of cycle of realities. It felt like I was being thrown around as if I was in a dryer. I would tumble through one reality not knowing which way was up, and then suddenly find myself in another one again confused and disoriented. I honestly could not tell the difference between real and not real. This lasted for a while and it made me physically ill. But I was able to use my coping strategy and call my sister, who directed me to call my provider and get in for my shot. I did this, and several days later, things went back to normal.
Psychosis is a symptom of a severe mental disorder. Is often associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. And bipolar psychosis, symptoms may appear during a severe episode of mania or depression. There are two types of psychosis. The first is mood congruent, meaning that the delusions are behavior reflect the person’s mood or current place in the cycle of mania and depression. The second is mood incongruent, meaning that it goes against your current mood.psychosis is not a sudden, severe break from reality as many people think it is. It builds over time. People experiencing psychosis may display decreased performance in work or school, decreased social contact, unwarranted suspicion of others, and difficulty communicating, among other things. And bipolar disorder, symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, incoherent or irrational speech and thoughts, or a lack of awareness.
A person dealing with psychosis may not be aware that the way they are behaving isn’t consistent with what’s actually happening. The symptoms of psychosis can encompass all the senses, blinding the person to it’s very existence. Fortunately, there are ways to help someone who’s going through a psychotic episode. The list of “Do’s”:
- Mirror the same language they used to describe their experience
- Speak clearly and in short sentences
- Actively listen to validate their experience, but attempt to redirect the conversation
- Speak privately and without distractions
- Accept it if they don’t want to talk to you, but be available in case they change their mind
- Be mindful if they’re distressed by the experience
- Talk down to the person, challenge, or “egg on” a hallucination or delusion
- Verbally or nonverbally judge, disapprove, or argue
- Label them with combative stereotypes such as “crazy”, “postal”, or “psychotic”.
- Try to touch or physically move the person
Understanding psychosis can be difficult, because it is not easy to wrap your head around the concept that someone is obliviously behaving in a way that’s contradictory to reality. For more information on psychosis including some signs, risk factors, and treatment information, please visit healthline.com. until next time,