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Living with Psychosis

I am fairly young (late 20's) and have been diagnosed with Psychosis after a few hospital stays already this year. My depression got very bad towards the end of last year & thats when I experienced what I did. I have used this site and search engines to try and get more of an understanding of it. The doctors who diagosed me didnt do a very good job explaining it and I am struggling to know. How do others live with it? I am currently in therapy with a psychologist to avoid a relapse but am interested to know how it has affected your life/how you have overcome/continue to live with it as I am struggling to come to terms with the diagnosis most days. 

 

Thank you! 

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Re: Living with Psychosis

Hope 32
What do you endure with your psychosis?I have had illusions with my depression both auditory and visual.The auditory tells me "I'm hopeless"or "You are a joke".At times tell me to SC.Then I have seen a figure hold a weapon to my head.Very strong power and when you are distressed it's hard.When I have had it bad I have had to remove myself from a room or count back from 10 etc or focus on my breathing to calm myself.Mine is triggered by stress or severe depression.I have no answers still have it due to a hopeless life.I wish you well.

Re: Living with Psychosis

Hi @Hope32, I live with psychosis on pretty much a daily basis. I've given up reporting on my voices because mainly, other than a few days here and there, I don't get a reprieve. I have mostly auditory hallucinations, paranoia and delusions. Sometimes I have visual hallucinations too (like people walking around, I believed them to be like ghosts or something). The paranoia grips me a lot, as does delusional thinking (believing people are plotting against me mostly). 

I've learned to live with it mostly, although I have had hospitalisations due to SI or acute psychosis. The important thing is to take any medications as prescribed. I was like a lot of people and believed I didn't need my medications anymore, so I went off them with disastrous results. I find myself wanting to do things that interest me in order to keep busy and distracted from symptoms. For me this means study, as I find learning new information keeps my mind working positively. I would like to gain employment in my chosen field (mental health) after the completion of my studies (community services then social work), to make myself feel 'whole' again. I was forced to give up a job I loved due to psychiatric illness almost a decade ago.

Re: Living with Psychosis

Thank you for your help. It's comforting to know that you are studying as I am currently enrolled to do so next semsester. With that progressing from there. I bought a book called "Flying with Paper Wings" hope its good and can help too.

Re: Living with Psychosis

Sandy Jeff's is an amazingly insightful and witty author. Enjoy the book! Smiley Very Happy

Re: Living with Psychosis

@Hope32

I first experienced psychosis at the age of 26. It was a frightening and terrifying experience for me and those around me. I relapsed when I was aged 33. In both instances I went into a near catatonic like state, where I was unable to communicate with people. To explain psychosis on a basic level, if I could call it that, it is when you are no longer able to determine the difference between what is real and what is unreal in your environment. Your imagination becomes your reality, your imagination becomes your "false" truth, your imagination dictates how you perceive your environment. It is frightening, terrifying and scary all at once. It is also exhilirating because the chemicals in your brain are imbalance. It makes you believe that you can perform invincible acts. I once had to explain how I saw psychosis in its stages. To me the first instinct and response to psychosis is to run, then try to argue and fight with it, then do something silly because you think you are invincible and then I wanted to end my own life because I couldn't find a way out, I couldn't escape the psychosis. In both instances the only person that actually was able to have a conversation with me when I went through it was the police, who took me to hospital the first time and then called an abulance the second time it occured.

So how do I live with the knowledge that I may one day have psychosis again. I live life to the fullest within my limitations. It means working casual/part time/volunteering instead of full time work. It means forcing myself to socialise and go out. It also means creating daily routines and weekly routines for myself. For instance I cook a big meal and have the same thing for dinner for a week to make it easier on myself. It means having a similar work routine, going to work the same times (most of the time on a regular basis). It means having family supports, having someone to talk to when I have a bad day. It means been compliant with medication and if I want to make any changes, I discuss it with my medical treating team to ensure that there are only small consequences and not ones that will be detriment to my mental health or phsycial health.

What do I struggle with, the feeling that I am not normal. The fact that I don't hold a full time job, I don't have a mortgage, I don't have a relationship or kids and I need to been under the constant care of a medical team. My medical team do a fabulous and outstanding job in keeping me well. I sometimes just want to be like everyone else. I would like to just be able to complain about the little things. Unfortunately if I am complaining about the little things, it will mean that something isn't right and it needs to be looked at because I have overcooked myself or done too much or added too much stress in my life. Since I remember what it was like before I came unwell and how much I use to do, I miss some of it. It means that if I want to do something these days, I have to consider and weigh up the consequences of my actions, I have to be very responsible in what I do and how I do it. Sometimes I don't get it right, I am not perfect, and it can impact me in the wrong way and that is when I get myself into trouble.

I have a plan in place to give me insight on what is a good day, a bad day and the rock bottom day. A good day is where I do my "normal" things like get up, eat, go to work, go out, shower, sleep at the right time. This occurs on a regular basis. A bad day is when I have worked too many hours, stayed up too late, or have worried too much about something or had fears that I have insulted someone or done something wrong (my paranoia). This is when I have to step back and evaluate myself and if I can't do it, someone else has to do it for me, whether it is family supports that suggest that I have done too much or my medical team. A rock bottom day is when I have become acutely unwell, it means having hallucinations (auditory or visual). Basically about to go through or going through psychosis. It means I need to call the CAT (critical assessment treatment) team or dial 000. Before it hopefully gets to that stage there is enough indications that I am becoming unwell and something can be done.

Unfortunately I have had experiences that have been beyond my control which have affected my mental health and as a result have caused downhill spiral into becoming unwell. When I can control most of the experiences in my life I am generally well. I do make mistakes and I am very hard on myself when it occurs. It comes from been in a job where I had to deliver perfection, which I know is impossible.

To give you some insight on medication, if you are taking any. You can come off it if you believe and your treating team believe it would be safe and managable. I once came off my medication and was quite stable, but unfortunately uncontrolable stresses and experiences occured in my life and as a result I needed to go back on medication. There is no shame if you need to go back on medication. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't. Unfortunately it is a little bit trial and error. I stay on my medication because I undertand what it does for me. I actually researched my medication, which would be a good option as it gives me better insight into what the medication does and how it effects me both with my mental health and my physiology.

So what do I feel from having my experiences from psychosis. I feel guilt, shame, anger, remorse and sadness. I feel guilty because I wasn't able to control my actions in what I said or did when I went through psychosis. I said things that were untrue because my imagination took control. I have trouble forgiving myself because I lost control. I am ashamed of myself because of how I behaved and people see me at my worst when psychosis occurs, even though I had no control over my actions. I wasn't violent or agressive, but I did scare people. When I was scared and terrified going through psychosis, my feelings became, if you like, contagious. Others feared because of the unknown. I'm angry with myself because of not only what I went through, but because I really lost control and that is also very frightening because when you have no control over your behaviour, you regret it later on. I feel remorse because of what I put my family through. Mental illness does affect your family. I feel sadness mainly because I am unable to let go. When I go through psychosis there is a risk that I will try to terminate my own life, it saddens me and scares me the most. 

So how do I get through these mixed emotions?

I take it one day, one week at a time. I try to make myself responsible for myself, if that makes sense. It means that whilst I have a medical team assisting me and family helping out on occasions, it is still up to me to remain well and stable. For me it is about trying to make those right choices in life. When I do go through these emotions sometimes I just have a cup of tea, listen to music, watch tv or youtube or netflix, create a distraction. Sometimes it is about been around people. For example it doesn't have to be people I know, it can just be going to a shopping centre. Not been alone or isolated and been out and about helps subside the emotions. I have a connection, a familiarity of a "safe" place that I can go to and be around others, even if they are just strangers. Sometimes I cry. Psychosis is a traumatic experience and it takes time to release. Sometimes when I relive in my mind the experiences that I have had going through pyschosis it makes me cry. It is important that this occurs, because I am grieving to a certain extent. I am learning to move on with my life.

How to avoid relapse, try to live within your limitations and boundaries. Knowing them can take some time. It can sometimes be trial and error. Try to have insight into why you became unwell and what where the triggers and experiences that lead you to psychosis.

Talk to your medical team, be open and honest. If you don't understand something, let them know. Explain what it is that you don't understand and try to get them to explain it to you in basic terms or simple terms that you understand.

I am sorry this is so long and I hope I haven't traumatised you or confused you. I hope this has helped.

Re: Living with Psychosis

That is a very well written piece of writing @jem80

And @Hope32 my experiences with mental illness have been awful whatever symptom you could clinically call them or describe them as. Have varied in nature and intensity for about 18 years now. And it has slowly developed, progressed, customized itself and taken its own path through my mind. And its all been in my head. Then in real life. None of it has been provable or had any evidence to suggest its true. But because the storyline and scenario and have been so meaningful to me and so closely wrapped around my real life experiences. Whatever they maybe. And has also been a process for myself to try and find closure and completion. It has been like a self set trap that tried too lure me in. And it basically succeeded. Like a safety switch. (I could not tell what was true and what was not and it involved everyone in my life who meant anything to me)

Meanwhile, all the important stuff and stuff that should of been a high priority to be concentrating on. Got put to the side. And was dissolved in this imaginary story. And i literally look at it. As being paranoid and delusional, visual and audio hallucinations that was all concocted bye my subconscious mind, my conscience and apart of me that wanted closure, resolution and to move on with life. And many times ive literally been unable to determine what is true and what is not. And it deteriorated what i wanted my life to be.

In my case it has all stemmed from little bits and pieces of my life. That went wrong. Or mistakes id made. Or stuff that was happening around me. And there has always been a positive and negative version of events that my imagination has concocted. Both just as damaging as one another.

If i take my medicatio im fine. I never get to high and i never get to low. And it comes at the cost of living with side effects of a daily basis. But the alternative would be much worse. In my case.

I manage to get through each day without any major problems. And without being overcome bye any dilemmas. But its most definitely a fine line im walking. Thats how it feels anyway.

I got a few close friends for support whom i support in return. I get out and about and go for walks with the dog. I got people i can reach out too. And i got everything i need and want. And have meaning to my life. And ive found bits and pieces of litreture over the years which is either for or against my cause. And have found a happy medium type of lifestyle. That works pretty well.

I compare psychosis or any mental health problems to the weather. Its the best way for me to understand how it truly works. Im loosing concentration and getting lost. So I'll leave it there.

Its still very present and still very alive. And is probably just waiting for a trigger to come along and flare it all up again. But i just do my best to get on with life in between time. And do the right thing bye myself and others for the moment. Lets face it. Life aint perfect. No matter who you are. And its tough going at the best of times. But when theres something wrong, your suffering and you need help. Its good to have the strategies and skills to get through to the other side of the storm. And the right support and help is also very important. I think all mental illness is a very natural phenomena. Its just how its perceived and handled bye the individual and others around them.

Plus i also find meditation and reflection a very helpful thing to do. Especially when you use the right prospective and concepts.

I hope that this has helped take care

Re: Living with Psychosis

Dear Hope32,

I experienced psychotic episodes when I was 23 and 26. It's now been seven years since my second episode, and I currently live a very healthy life. The biggest thing that's helped me is finding a good therapist to help unpack the experience (it took several trials to find the right person!), and help me realise that 1. psychosis doesn't define me - I am more than that, and 2. it's not my fault, and not something I should feel 'guilty' or 'ashamed' about. You are in very good company.

Now I still take medication everyday, as a preventative measure, and am careful to monitor my stress levels and ensure I get sufficient sleep. For me stress was a big trigger - so working to have a good sense of perspective and prioritising my health is really important.

Keep working through it - and well done for posting the question.

Re: Living with Psychosis

@Kate84

Thanks for what you written, it was very inspiring. Sometimes we forget that it's not our fault when we go through psychosis. Sometimes I have to have people remind me that my illness doesn't define who I am.

Thanks for reminding me for what I have accomplished Smiley Happy 

Re: Living with Psychosis

Thank you for your help everyone. Still stuggling to come to terms with the diagnosis but getting there. 

 

 

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