The Shadow People

I recently had a bad depressive episode with psychosis. I hadn’t seen the shadow people since March. Unfortunately, I had to go for another inpatient stay, and I had to go for an unscheduled ECT treatment on top of my medication changes. I’m currently in the middle of an acute rescue series of ECT, with one more scheduled treatment.

The shadow people were watching me for several nights, and they wouldn’t relent. Finally, I got it into my head that if I cut myself, they would go away. It didn’t work. The cuts are healed, and after more than a couple weeks, they’re light enough that I feel comfortable wearing short sleeves in public again. (Although, the temperature is beginning to cool off here in South Carolina, so I’m wearing a cardigan, anyway.)

For a week straight, I wanted to die. My husband hid all my pills but one dose at a time. I also had him hide sharp objects. The intrusive thoughts of hurting myself were nonstop. I barely focused on work when at the office. This is the reality of my life. Finally, two Thursdays ago, I planned on stopping by the local pharmacy on my way home from work and picking up a bottle of acetaminophen to overdose on. I texted my husband from work to tell him, and he took me to the local inpatient psychiatric hospital to check myself in.

I was there for a week, which happens to be one of my shorter inpatient stays. There have been times when I’ve been inpatient for two weeks at a time, so I consider myself lucky this time. My inpatient psychiatrist recommended an acute rescue series of ECT, as I respond well to the treatments. They help tremendously. It’s hard to say if it is the increased dosage of medication or if it’s the ECT that’s helping more. Either way, I’m glad to be feeling back to myself (without hallucinations).

Right now, I’m not allowed to drive during the acute series and for two weeks after. It’s a pain having to get my husband to drive me everywhere when I need to go anywhere. But it’s a small price to pay for feeling better. I would never wish my hallucinations on anyone.

My Life with Bipolar Disorder

If you’ve read my bio page, you already know that I live with Type I Bipolar Disorder with Psychosis. I had my first episode, a depressive episode, when I was sixteen, and was originally misdiagnosed with Major Depression. I started self-harming in the form of cutting to relieve my mental anguish. At sixteen, I wanted to die.

The next few years went by without incident. It wasn’t until college that I experienced full-blown mania. I was delusional, going days on a few hours of sleep, and I experimented with alcohol and drugs. My drinking and drugging, towards the end, got to the point that it was nearly daily binging and withdrawals. Finally, August 19th, 2008, I couldn’t take it anymore. I overdosed. I left a note for my mother that simply read, “I’m so sorry. I need a lot of help.” I was still conscious when she found me. The panic in her voice is still crystal clear in my memory.

After chugging charcoal and spending some time in the ER, I was sent to a psychiatric facility, where I received my bipolar diagnosis, although it wasn’t until several years later that psychosis was added onto my diagnosis. After a week in the facility, I was sent home and signed up for an outpatient rehab program for drugs and alcohol.

I spent the next six years on lithium and a combo of other drugs, which kept me mostly stable. Once the lithium started shutting down my kidneys and I developed hypothyroidism, it was time to go off of it. That’s when trouble started up again and the hallucinations began. I started seeing shadow people in my house, and later began to hear voices telling me to kill myself. I was in and out of the hospital multiple times a year. We tried Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) before Electroconvulsive Therapy was offered. Desperate for relief, I agreed to ECT.

While ECT hasn’t kept me completely stable, it has helped in my recovery. I’ve been going regularly for ECT since 2015 and still go to this day. I had a second suicide attempt in July 2019 while going through a particularly rough depressive episode. Early 2020, I was put back on lithium. A low dose, to see if that would deter some of the side effects I experienced before. I’m still on it, and I’m doing well.