I Want to Tell You About My Two Very Different Experiences With Psychosis
If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
I have bipolar disorder, and what many people don’t know is that my diagnosis can include psychosis. Not everyone who has bipolar disorder experiences psychosis, but some do. And there’s not a lot of education about what it’s really like. So, here are two recent stories of when psychosis landed me in the hospital.
Story #1: The “Good”
Grandiose psychosis is generally connected to mania, and in my case it definitely was. I felt on top of the world, and while I knew I should’ve called my doctor, I didn’t. I decided not to call her because I liked the feeling of mania — at least, I liked it until I landed in the hospital.
It started as the typical mania most people have heard of. I felt euphorically happy, on top of the world and absolutely nothing could bring me down. However, going untreated led to feeling a little too happy. In the end, I felt absolutely invincible. That’s where the psychosis came in.
Suddenly, I felt like I could do anything — and I wanted to do those things. I felt like I could stand in front of a train and live. I wanted to jump off of a rooftop because I just knew I’d make it and be alive to tell the story. I had urges to take all my medications at once to prove that the gods were on my side and I was truly invincible. I should mention here, that in stable functioning, I’m an atheist and don’t believe in any god.
But in those moments, I did. Not only did I believe, but I knew they’d protect me at all costs. In my mind, nothing I did would kill me — even if it was the most destructive thing you could think of. Which looking back is super scary, because I was ready to do really dangerous things that could’ve potentially ended my life.
When I was hospitalized for this, I really thought I didn’t need it. People were against me. They were jealous of my invincibility. It took about two days of heavy-duty psych meds to realize how wrong I was. I needed the hospital, and I was so fortunate I kept myself safe.
Story #2: The “Bad”
Now, this type of psychosis is much less fun. In fact, it led to me being on the severe intensity unit of the psych hospital, which takes a lot, in case you were wondering. It was so bad I was back on the unit within 45 minutes. For reference, an intake appointment generally takes three to four hours at the hospital I go to.
So why were these drastic actions taken? Because I was petrified of myself.
This episode of psychosis is actually a lot harder for me to write about, because it was terrifying to experience. To sum it up, I was convinced demons were inside of me and I needed to hurt myself to get them out. I was writhing in my skin, clawing at my face as I bawled and tried to contain my fear.
I took more anxiety medication than my typical dose, hoping it would help, but ultimately it did nothing. I was curled up in my partner’s lap for comfort, squirming and sobbing because, “I need them out of me! Kayce, I need them out of me. I need to hurt myself. I don’t know what to do — please, get them out of me!”
This form of psychosis is always the scariest to go through. Especially when I don’t want to hurt myself, yet feel like that’s the only way to escape the demons. It was an excruciating battle in my head.
After an hour and a half of this, realizing I wouldn’t calm down, my partner took me to the hospital. As soon as they asked me why I was there I started sobbing again.
“There are demons in me and I need them out of me — I can’t take it. I need someone to sedate me or something. Please, get them out of me. You have to get them out of me!”
Due to my frenzy, the admissions counselor only spoke to me for a few minutes before calling in my partner — most likely because I was incoherent. They sent me to the locked waiting room again where I once again began sobbing. When they finished their conversation, the counselor asked what was wrong, so again I told her through hysterical tears, “I need them out of me! I don’t know what to do anymore, I just need them out — I need them out!”
As I said, this was one of the scariest psychotic episodes I’ve ever had. And while it seems so unrealistic now, at the time it felt so real. I truly believed demons were inside of me and thought I had to hurt myself to get them out.
And I’m not sharing these stories to get pity — or worse, be called “crazy.” I’m sharing them because I want others who are experiencing psychosis to know they aren’t alone. So many mental health disorders can entail psychotic features, yet no one ever discusses it.
Yes, I have bipolar disorder with psychotic features. Yes, I’ve experienced psychosis — both pleasant and unpleasant. And yes, I want more people to talk about their experiences too. Because psychosis isn’t as uncommon as you might think amongst the mental health community.
It’s time more people realized that.
Photo by Chris Arock on Unsplash