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16 People Describe What It's Like to Experience Psychosis

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Psychosis is a break from reality — a truly impossible phenomenon to imagine unless you’ve experienced it yourself. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, approximately 3 in 100 people will experience an episode of psychosis during their lives.

But experiencing psychosis doesn’t make someone “psychotic, “crazy” or even dangerous.

To get a better understanding of psychosis, we asked people in our community to describe what it’s like.

This is what they had to say:  

1. “For me, it felt like I was watching a movie that was my life. I knew bad things were happening and I couldn’t stop it. ”

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2. “It feels like a complete loss of control.”

3. “I was driven by fear…voices…hallucinations. I felt chaotic.”

4. “Out of body experience. Excruciating sensations amplified by 1,000 at the tip of every sensor in my body.”

5. “Simply the most troubling loss of self you can experience.”

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6. “For me, it’s like an overwhelming feeling of fear and dread combined with an uncontrollable obession on one thing. My mind is stuck on that one thing and it races nonstop.”

7. “It’s overwhelming, and yet super realistic. It’s so convincing that you completely go along for the ride.”

8. “Drowning in a cesspool of confusion and chaos.”

9. “You’re sitting there, in that place you should be able to recognize. You don’t. Everything is unfamiliar, foreign. You’re grasping, desperately, for a comfortable place you aren’t in the moment able to identify. You’re missing yourself. Missing from yourself. Everything is fast — images and echoes. Somehow you feel slow and still. As though you’re out of your body but you can’t quite see yourself. Hurt. You hurt. You know you’re hurting.”

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10. “Your mind tells you something is true and your body reacts with animal instinct. You have to fight in your brain — to argue that what you’re believing instinctively is wrong.”

11. “It’s like being your worst enemy and the enemy is inside your head. Psychosis isn’t fun because your mind plays tricks on you, and this can be terrifying for the person.”

12. “It feels like you are outside of your brain, like there isn’t a problem.”

13. “It feels like you’re stung by a wasp in your brain.”

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14. “I felt like I was in control, but now I’m sure I wasn’t.”

15. “Every sense is heightened and colors are especially bright. The world is on a giant flat screen TV. Everything seems more crystal clear than you ever knew, but then it all becomes confused and muddled. You make your own realities, constantly decoding messages that seem extremely important, but are ultimately meaningless. They further the storyline in your head that seems so real.”

16. “Like a cataract of the mind.”

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Originally published: January 28, 2016
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