My journey with psychosis began when I was around 16-17 years old. It was rather mild but prominent. I felt a buzz and a fuzziness in my brain, like a pressure where my mind would blank out. I felt scared but I didn’t know why and I distanced myself from others. My first experience of a hallucination was in the garden. I saw wildlife such as deer running around and colourful flowers, almost like a Disney movie. Unfortunately the visions became quite terrifying where I saw the grim reaper waiting for me and I was convinced I was going to die. I was hospitalised and put on respiridone which I did not like at all, but I took it just wanting it all to go away. At this point I had only ever been on an anti depressant, so the thought of something stronger was uncomfortable. I was extremely restless and extremely tired both at the same time. I could not not listen or hold down a conversation properly. I don’t know whether this was the psychosis or the medication. They soon switched me to quetiapine which worked better for me for a while, So for a year or two I was taking mirtazapine and quetiapine.
When I moved into a supported flat on my own, I decided to stop my medication all together, I was sick of how they made me feel. After a few weeks my mood started to elevate each day I would feel higher. I stopped sleeping and forgetting to eat as thoughts and ideas were rushing through my brain so fast I could not rest. I heard a crowd outside my window cheering for me but when I looked down there was no one there. I would talk so fast my friends could not make sense of what I was saying, When I walked down the street everything was so vibrant and I felt famous as if everyone knew who I was. I saw glitter fall from the sky and felt euphoric. My support worker became concerned and took me to the doctor, who initially diagnosed me with bipolar disorder.
By this time I had turned 18 and alongside my mania I began to have delusions in relation to my mood. I believed I was on a mission by the CIA to save the world and that a chip had been inserted into my brain to give me special powers such as mind reading abilities and telepathy. I was put on a section 2, then a section 3, where I spent 7 months in hospital. Going through cycles of psychosis, mania, depression and mixed mood (where you get symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time). It was there I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.
After a psychotic episode I always felt flat and disinterested in things, it was like it had completely worn me out. This happened multiple times over the course of two or three years. I was now on lithium, lamotrigine, olanzapine, clonazepam and sodium valporate.
I moved back in with my mum, as I felt I need some security. I managed to stay relatively stable for some time. I went to college and got 2 GCSEs. I planned to do a level 3 course but each time I tried to follow my ambitions, my crippling anxiety would get the better of me and I would quit, I never seemed able to finish something. I developed quite a lot of social anxiety and had no friends. My concentration was poor and I would often drift off or feel easily overwhelmed. Over the time between now, and what I am next going to tell you I had two psychotic episodes whilst taking aripiprazole. it was not helping however they just kept increasing the dose, it made me so anxious I wouldn’t leave the house without my boyfriend – I was a hermit. It also made me extremely agitated and I couldn’t sit still or fall asleep. The following psychosis happened whilst taking 25mg of aripiprazole.
I moved house in lockdown and although I was managing the stress ok, once it stopped was when my worst psychosis happened.
I had a relationship for 3 years, however we broke up. I moved house in lockdown and although I was managing the stress ok, once it stopped was when my worst psychosis happened. I went to see my auntie who gave me a black crystal. I was fine until I got home. My mum could sense something was amiss. I didn’t say much, but in my head I believed it was cursed. I was alone some nights and I could feel people touching my arms and face and I could see shadows moving in the hallway. I knew it was the devil and I knew he was going to possess me. My mum stayed with me from this point onwards. I remember screaming on the floor ‘get out of me, get out of me!’ I would not look anyone in the eye as I was scared I would pass the devil to them, I would not open the blinds at any point as I thought the government were sending signals to my brain to damage it. I felt my thoughts were not my own anymore. I was also preoccupied with feeling like I was going to be turned into a robot and when I went for my bloods I cried and cried saying ‘this is the final stage’. I was sectioned on a section 3. I can’t remember much about it other than a man saying why are you wearing winter clothes in the summer? I saw the home treatment team for a lengthy time and then spent 4-5 months in hospital; The whole episode lasted around 8 months. I am currently taking, lithium, lamotrigine, olanzapine and clonazepam. I have been so happy and content for a good few months and I achieved getting back into society. It is possible to have a life with psychosis, I believe you get stronger each time and keep learning about yourself.
Recently I have been struggling with my sleep for several weeks if not months.
I know I am not alone in this and I don’t claim to have an an answer but here are some tips that I am learning along the way will maybe help others.
I have struggled to get to sleep, stay asleep and wake early often. I have tried zopiclone which yes made me tired, but that wasn’t the problem. I’m sure most people will agree they’re not a solution or enjoyable to take. Then I tried temazepam which did work, but as soon as I stopped taking it things returned to normal. I attempted to set a bedtime routine and tried to switch off which I found incredibly hard and ineffective, I just went round in circles trying to get the perfect balance between wake and sleep. Unfortunately I got so sleep deprived it triggered a psychotic episode so I know just how important and vital it is to get quality sleep.
Sometimes I thrive on low sleep but I doesn’t last long. I have recently been putting nice candles or smells on in my bedroom, as well as lavender on my pillow. Sometimes I sleep in total darkness but sometimes I feel safer with a light on, it is really personal preference. I put calming sounds on to help me drift off sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. I have also been trying meditation which I know people go on and on about until you are tired of hearing about it, however, it does, at least for 10 minutes allow you to rest. Even if you don’t sleep make sure you are resting as sometimes that can be just as good. As I said I don’t have the answer but wanted to share my story so that you don’t feel like you are the only one in the middle of the night alone suffering.
I have am more prone to having a psychotic episode and in this case it was a severe lack of sleep which was the main trigger. I saw a man on the news who mentioned the devil’s mark. It became a nugget that grew in my brain for a week until I was convinced that the covid jabs had injected us with the devil so that we would fight in the war alongside Putin. I kept seeing what was happening in Ukraine and I started to believe it was somehow my fault. I thought Russian spies were following me and just had a general sense of unease constantly. I could not get the thoughts out of my head, it was torture. I then started to believe Putin was the devil himself and this was the start of a new world order and the rapture. I felt agitated and as if my thoughts weren’t my own as though I had lost all control. I barely ate as I was too consumed with my beliefs. I wouldn’t look people in the eye as I was scared I would pass something bad onto them or they would tamper with my thoughts.
“Music really helped to soothe me and always has, it takes me away from my current problems.”
It was recommended to me to do something totally different for 20 minutes which I found really helpful in taking me away from my thoughts. I also stopped watching the news and to this day still haven’t. I tried to take care of myself by not being alone as otherwise this would lead me to fester on my thoughts. I would shower and although I wasn’t taking great care of myself I tried my best. Music really helped to soothe me and always has, it takes me away from my current problems. I didn’t find TV to be a great distraction as I could not concentrate. I love nice smells so burning oils and incense sticks brought me great comfort as well as being wrapped up in a comforting blanket.