I have always shied away from writing about two subjects – suicide and psychosis – and the time has come to stop not writing. I have briefly touched upon suicide in past blogs but I don’t think I’ve ever even touched up the subject of psychosis.
Bear with me whilst I define psychosis for you because doing this removes fear and by fear I mean mine and not yours.
Psychosis isn’t a condition in itself, it is triggered by other conditions such as manic depression (bipolar disorder), Parkinson’s Disease or drug and alcohol abuse and can be described as a mental health problem that causes people to perceive things in a different way from other people.
There’s nothing very frightening about that description is there? So why are we so terrified by the mention of psychosis? I can only answer the latter question based on my own experiences and I find mentioning psychosis seriously frightening because of the way people react because we all know that people with psychosis hang around on bus stops, machete at the ready, waiting for a likely victim to get off the next bus. I had a psychotic episode last night and it both scared me witless and convinced me that I had finally gone mad (again) I was not a danger to anybody – not even myself.
So what happens when I have periods of psychosis?
The inanimate objects always have it in for me. A few weeks ago it was that big plastic bag that something I’d bought arrived in threatening to suffocate me in my sleep. None of the carrier bags have ever behaved like that and those tiny little food bags would never dare even thing among those lines. The old bed was always grabbing on to my hair and twisting in so that I had trouble sleeping and last night it was the big stone I used as a door stop that caused the problems by jumping off the cupboard that I keep the cat food in. It scared me so much that I took it outside and put it beside one of the flower borders in the little park I live beside. I was convinced that I’d find it back in the flat this morning.
Lets get all the above into context and see exactly what it’s all about shall we?
All the episodes I’ve spoken about above came at the end of periods of rapid cycling and usually at the end of bouts of intense, though shortlived, mania. When I experience these short (about 1 hour) and intense bouts of mania I often feel deeply suicidal and have come close to it on several occasions. They are so destructive my head feels hot to the touch while they’re happening which is a very effective demonstration about how hard mania makes my mind work. Even during the lesser episodes when I have too much energy and am compelled to work it off my mind doesn’t stop moving for a second.
Now let us add in the obsessive element of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Obsession thoughts rule my life. I have some truly awful thoughts which play and replay in my mind on what feels like a never ending loop. This is one of the reasons I don’t follow people who tweet about animal cruelty on Twitter or Facebook because I cannot unsee images of animal abuse once I’ve seen them.
So if, during the phase where obsession and mania hit each other at great force, I think to myself even briefly that one of the cats may get into that thick plastic bag and die then the natural step is for me to think that if I’m not careful then I’ll suffocate myself with the bag. I couldn’t settle until I’d cut the bag into tiny pieces. Welcome to my psychosis.
Similarly the bed didn’t actually grab me or pull my hair it was an old and not very good bed that was made of metal and occasionally I’d get my hair caught. If I at the point where obsession and mania transformed into psychosis when it happened then I would be convinced that the bed was out to get me.
Last night Mister by biggest cat jumped off the low level cupboard that I keep the cat food in onto the tallboy that’s close to it. The stone that propped open doors was on the cupboard and it flew off. I wasn’t in the room when it happened but after a day of obsessive mania which had left me exhausted and bordering on psychosis it was enough to shove me over and I was convinced that the stone had jumped off the cupboard and so I ended up putting it outside.
I fear psychosis because I know what it takes for me to get there but I fear the reactions of others more.