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Anna Least

best way to tell people you've been psychotic

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Hey,

 

Not strictly a relationship question because I'm also curious how people discuss this with friends. (But there's no board for that?)

 

I've started sharing poetry with a critique group that overlaps with my social group. I write mostly about mental illness, often about psychosis. So, I'm starting to tell more people I know about my past. I'm also kind of emotionally processing it, which is why I'm focusing on it in writing. My most recent diagnosis is schizoaffective, which sounds scary to many people. Especially because it involved psychosis.

 

How have you all told people in your life about your MI, especially if it involves psychosis? It tends to freak people out.  

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I've yet to share the psychosis piece with anyone other than my parents (and treatment people/people in PHP) because I personally am still scared of it and freaked out, so I can't figure out how to explain it well to someone else.  The parents piece is kind of a luck of the the draw--they surprised me at the hospital when I was psychotic, therefore they learned.  As for the rest, it's kind of like I have to have my own narrative for what's going on and accept it more myself before I can even start to share it.  Not that I'm likely to share the psychosis piece specifically to many people. 

That said, I admire your willingness to and I'll follow to see if anyone else has any actual ideas, since I vomited some emotions and experiences without useful ideas. 

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I've told a few people, friends and friends of the family I've had a psychotic episode. I usually pre-warn of a big scary word about to be used but apart from that the other time I just came out with it. I'm not afraid anymore to talk about my mental health because I see it as making cracks in that Berlin wall of stigma.

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it's hard to say a "best" way because most people in my life know because 1. they've seen me seriously unwell and later had it explained why, or 2. they've known i was in the hospital and later found out why.

based on that what i would advise is to figure out a way to let them know when you are at a more stable point in your life than people tend to find out in my life.

i suppose if i had time to really consider it, i would avoid using the word psychosis. i definitely, definitely, definitely avoid actually saying paranoid schizophrenia to people because of the associations our culture makes with my diagnosis. i think i would prefer to say that i hear voices, that my thoughts become difficult to handle and sometimes muddled, that my speech and writing can be less coherent. i think i would prefer pointing to specific symptoms instead of an overarching term that people tend to think of in a vernacular sense as "unhinged" or "dangerous". maybe after talking about the symptoms i wouldn't be so opposed to saying what that means, diagnosis wise, especially if i were overall stable and so didn't present as someone unpredictable and suspicious and confused. 

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When I was psychotic I never thought about hurting anyone aside from myself so a least i can start with that piece of information and I think it immediately puts their minds more at ease.  

I am also one of the very fortunate who never heard voices or hallucinated visually.  

My paranoia and delusions only centered around me being a target and caused panic attacks sometimes.  I think these symptoms can be easily compared to severe anxiety which people can more easily relate to than Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective.  

If I want to or feel i need to go into more detail about who i thought was going to hurt me or why it is THEN that the story ventures off from what is normal anxiety.  It's like anxiety on steroids I guess.  People with anxiety will be afraid that if they drive over a bridge it will collapse while they are on it- and other worst case scenarios involving different circumstances.  My paranoia and delusions were not compatible with things that would or could happen in reality and even if some of them were things that COULD happen there was always the element of me thinking that I KNEW psychically that it WOULD INDEED HAPPEN and that it was just a matter of time.  My worst break was probably when I quit 50mg Abilify cold turkey and still stayed on generous doses of both Adderall, Vyvanse, and I think Wellbutrin too.  

Without the stimulants involved in the equation, I'll have what i call whimsical fantasies that I believe are true but don't necessarily interfere with everyday life and they also don't cause anxiety or paranoia.  In fact, I feel fine and good BUT I need to do reality checking with people I trust.  This is when i take no meds at all.

Weed is some thing I'll never touch again.  THC gives me horrible anxiety and paranoia/delusions.

I take meds now by the way and have been symptoms free for several years aside from lacking motivation.  I also tell people that.

It;s good to focus on the positives and emphasize them i guess.  

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From experience, I tried, and tried to explain and both of times didn't work because besides me, the people that I told could not relate to anyone besides fiction.

I regretted because time went by and nothing really make a positive difference.

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So my psychosis was that I thought there were demons everywhere, I could see them, and they were coming to drag me to hell. This concerned me in such a way that I didn't think I should tell my children, thankfully, but I did tell my mom who is really religious and she told me it was true and I needed to pray and get a blessing. I told my husband and he took me in to the psych ward where I got anti-psychotics and the demons went away. I was so embarrassed, I don't even believe in demons or god.

I've told a few of my friends I had a few problems telling what was real during a low point in my life. By their reactions I judged it best not to say more. What is funny is a few years later my mom brings up demons and my ability to tell where they are. I just laughed my head off and told her I was psychotic and as soon as I got meds for it that all went away.

I now only tell psychiatrists and psychologists about it and my husband promised if I got that way again he would whisk me off to the hospital before I went public. Strangely enough if it was just a group, like my PTSD group where I didn't see them outside of that I would have no problem telling them, but not friends. Maybe you have better friends than I do though.

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28 minutes ago, wadjet said:

I've told a few of my friends I had a few problems telling what was real during a low point in my life. By their reactions I judged it best not to say more. What is funny is a few years later my mom brings up demons and my ability to tell where they are. I just laughed my head off and told her I was psychotic and as soon as I got meds for it that all went away.

My mother also believed more on my 'paranormal powers' than my mental health condition;

At the time I begged to be seen by a psychiatrist;

Nowadays I'm noticing her 'magical thinking'.

At least I'm putting that on her account. :P

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So far I have told four friends my official diagnosis. One I told in greater detail than the other (she was like "Wait... so you have schizophrenia?" Just very surprised.) My three other friends just kind of nodded and were like "Cool, glad you're fine now" and that was it. Those are all very old very close friends, who had already witnessed me in various stages of crazypants. I haven't told any of my new friends yet. 

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My first dx was bipolar which people seem to understand, so I have left it at that. I just wanted to tell a few people but my mother-in-law felt the need to tell other relatives, so now i don't know who all knows what.

As far as the psychosis part, I mention it in my support group for mood disorders and I say my dx my work because I work at a center for people with mental illness and I want people to know I can relate.

I don't make friends easily, so I don't have many people to explain it to. Mental illness runs pretty strongly on my dad's side so those relatives just nod and seem understanding.

It's up to you what you want to tell people. I try to remember that I can't take info back.

I want to start a group at my work about disclosing, who you want to disclose to and how. It is individual.

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I've told a few people. Some were open and understanding and others minimized my experience. It's hard for people to believe that psychosis happens to someone they know, I think. Telling my mom was a bit of a nightmare, but I think it's better that she knows.

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Told another person- a friend I've known for a long time who didn't know my full diagnosis. Explaining it very clinically seemed to work, but she is a scientist. I think with some people bluntness might be the best policy? 

 

Yeah, I'm just going to keep updating here, if that is okay.

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