You see, my official diagnosis is severe Type I Bipolar Disorder with Psychosis. That, however, is not the point. The point is that I experience hallucinations and delusions from time to time. Not all the time. Stress can induce them, such as when I’m in a big, crowded, noisy store. (I’m looking at you, Costco.) Work was a huge trigger, back when I was working.
But what exactly is psychosis? Psychosis is defined as “when people lose some contact with reality” according to the NHS. As many as 3 in 100 people will experience psychosis at some point. There are typically warning signs leading up to psychosis, such as trouble thinking clearly, suspiciousness or uneasiness with others, a decline in self-care or personal hygiene, spending more time alone (according to NAMI). Psychosis can include hallucinations (experiencing things that are unreal, such as auditory, visual or tactile experiences) and/or delusions (beliefs in the unreal).
I’ve heard of other people having pleasant psychosis, being one with nature and such. Not me. If I wasn’t seeing shadow people or thinking the neighbors were secretly spying on me, there were bugs crawling all over my skin and in my hair, whispering awful things to me.
When many people think of psychosis (those who have never experienced it, at least), probably think of “crazy people” or people who talk incoherently to themselves. The truth is that it’s not always like that. Yes, those people may have mental illness, but we’re not all like that. We’re not all violent psychopaths out to maim and kill people. We’re not people to be scared of. We’re just humans, plagued by our own minds, trying to get by in this life. The real truth? Those with mental illness are no more violent than their non-mentally ill counterparts. In fact, studies have shown that those with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence.
I’ve seen the look upon people’s faces when I tell them I experience psychosis. It’s usually one of masked horror and disgust, one that says, “What do I say to her?” I try not to hide my psychosis. If I’m having a hard time, I want people to know why I’m having a hard time. I don’t want to have to hide the fact that I’m having hallucinations.
Fortunately, however, thanks to the fact that I am no longer working, I haven’t experienced psychosis since November. (It’s January as I write this.) I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that. It’s such a relief, not being scared shitless because I’m hearing a voice telling me to injure myself. I can only hope that the stability continues.
Have you ever experienced psychosis? Yes or no, I’d love to hear your thoughts!