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First Psychotic Episode - and Ensuing Melancholy


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I'm here again because I am free for the umpteenth time from captivity in a psych ward. And my mind won't stop going. Sure, the wizard doctor switched around my meds a bit, but nothing more or less than what I had previously been on. I was saddened that my psychiatrist, who works in the hospital, chose not to attend to me even though I was screaming at everyone who would listen that he was the only one I could talk to and the only one who could save me. The main precipitating factor of my spiral was my relapse on alcohol and subsequent overdose on a bottle of tylenol, bottle of lithium, and bottle of Wellbutrin. I had been off many of my meds for about a month, as well. One intubation, being restrained by security guards in the ICU, and multiple shots of Haldol later, and I was bouncing back and forth between two delusional realities of which both were complete nightmares. I understood, finally, why my friend who had schizophrenia shot himself. I was trapped in a hallucination that only vaguely resembled reality but mostly I knew the only way to make the nightmare of hallucinations stop was for that final release of death. Anyway, I'm getting into heavy morbidity and should probably start trying to make a point.

I've never experienced delirium and hallucinations like this before. To the point where I had to be physically restrained because I knew receiving a shot would throw me into that alternate reality which was terrifying. To the point where I was intubated because I was aspirating on my vomit. The point where I didn't know what was real and what wasn't real, such as when I vomited on the hospital floor and "saw" pieces of plastic come out of the vomit and was convinced the doctors had implanted these plastic devices inside of me. Or how I knew that I had swallowed a razor blade, that I had murdered someone, that I was being tortured and being played mind games with....

And now I have to keep trying, once again, to live. Normally, functionally, with the expectation that I should be strong enough to overcome my mental illness (they say bipolar disorder).

And I keep wondering, why? what is the meaning of life? why am I afflicted with these confusions that wreak havoc on my perception of reality?

As well as I believe I may be doing, I admit I periodically stop taking my medications because I despise the side effects and even more so despise the idea that I may actually need them. I admit that I medicate with alcohol sometimes.... and I spiral and do self destructive things. I'm a cutter - usually without getting stitches, however, the most stitches I've had in one sitting for self-harm was 38. I've had bulimia for the past six years. I seek acceptance through sex because it's how I grew up learning how to be loved and validated, erstwhile hating it regardless.

The positives: I have a job where I help others, I'm in school with a major geared towards serving my community and individuals, and my family is giving me a home to live in while I go through a divorce (with an abusive individual). In a way I'm using this post as a soap box, which perhaps it's better served as one of those journal entries that I need to acquaint myself with. That established, I'd like to turn this post towards those who have experienced psychosis/living within unreality, hospitalization, and the aftermath of acclimating to "normality". 

1. What were the precipitating factors?

2. What happened that put you in the hospital (who/where/how/when, etc)

3. What was your hospital experience like?

4. What were your hallucinations/delusions/other psychiatric symptoms?

5. How did you get out of the hospital?

6. What are obstacles you've encountered acclimating to life on the outside?

7. Learning experiences from the whole ordeal?

I haven't given up yet, however I've confused, afraid, directionless, needy, and desperate. Also hopeful, despite it all.

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I haven't been hospitalized for psychosis, so I can't answer any of your questions. I just wanted you to know I rear what you said. I imagine the experience in the icu must have been terrifying. I hope you get some answers and start to use your meds properly so you can find relief. 

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1. What were the precipitating factors?

I started up school again and had a crazy busy schedule, meaning I was getting less and less sleep. I actually was compliant with my meds; they just weren't enough.

2. What happened that put you in the hospital (who/where/how/when, etc)

I met with my therapist and told her about how the angels were menacing me. I was really scared of them. I was willing to try anything to make them go away, so I went voluntarily.

3. What was your hospital experience like?

Not too eventful. I was still delusional the whole time. A doctor told me I shouldn't have kids cos this might happen again, which was kind of offensive.

4. What were your hallucinations/delusions/other psychiatric symptoms?

I was hallucinating shadow figures and angels flying around me. I also had auditory hallucinations. I was having the delusion that God and angels were contacting me through signs in my environment. They were having me do things like fasting. Whenever I did the right thing, I would experience waves of euphoria.

5. How did you get out of the hospital?

They let me out after only a week, even though I was still psychotic. The hospital my insurance covers kinda sucks.

6. What are obstacles you've encountered acclimating to life on the outside?

Well, I was still having some psychosis so I was obsessed with religion and having trouble focusing on school. I quickly dipped into a serious depression after this episode.

7. Learning experiences from the whole ordeal?

Not sure I learned much except that I need a serious intervention to happen as soon as I'm hypomanic for more than a few days. Things can get out of control too quickly. 

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1. What were the precipitating factors?

well for my last hospital admission...I had got a new job and was going to university as well as never really getting all that much better in the first place since the last one.

2. What happened that put you in the hospital (who/where/how/when, etc)

well I was pretty messed up on downers when I went to my psychiatrist appointment...also I was delusional... I'm pretty sure I couldn't hold a coherent conversation due to not only the drugs but also the crazy. She sectioned me and the cops came to pick me up and take me to the hospital...they handcuffed me even though she asked them not to and I wasn't resisting or making a scene...I pretty much accepted what was about to go down.

3. What was your hospital experience like?

i have been admitted to that same hospital on four separate occasions so ill just use the last and longest as the example... I was taken to the er by the cops in early November my experience in the er was pretty terrible...the nurses kept yelling at me asking me why I was lying to them...I had no fucking clue what was happening and why they were saying that I was so so so confused I didn't know what the fuck was going on...they took my shirt and bra off (with a male cop present watching everything...the same one that brought me there who was clearly uncomfortable ) hooked me up to one of those heart machines you know where they stick all those wires to you...started and iv and took blood...after a bit one of the pdocs came into the room and told me it would be ok then left...then I was basically alone except for the one person that keeps an eye on you for hours and hours...they unhooked me from the iv but kept the needle part in my hand and left me there for more time until some nurse came and removed the needle because it was all irritated and itchy...then someone came and helped me out of the bed...I fell on the floor...and walked me to the mental health unit...I think I was in that unit for 3 days...I don't remember it well...I knew where I was but I was not all there...then I got moved to the proper mental institution... I spent a few weeks in the lockdown unit mostly wandering the hall back and forth and staying away from everyone in my room only emerging to pee or wander still delusional but not scared because I knew I'd be safe in there but also suicidal...eventually I was granted a step up to the next level ward where I was then offered many times ECT and refused because it's scary...I never really stabilized to their satisfaction so I was sent to a different ward where I stayed while they fucked around with medications and I got sometimes worse or sometimes better. On this ward there were lots of different people...some people had been waiting for years to get there some people came from the addictions unit some people were stuck there while they were waiting for spaces in the ptsd unit...there were groups to go to during the day...you got woken up at 7am for breakfast and then after that there was like a group morning meeting where everyone on the ward has to say like what they're looking forward to or some shit...then groups...there was art therapy, horticultural therapy, women's group, men's group, some kind of spirituality group, occupational therapy...ermm dbt group, others I'm sure...then after dinner that was it...sometimes they made us all play games in the common room...then meds...then night...once a week or so the psychiatrist would come and he would sit behind the glass at the nurses station and would give u a paper u had to fill out that asks questions about mood etc.. u fill it out and give it back to him and that's it... they tinker with your meds and sometimes the nurses might chat with you if something is going wrong but otherwise it's all just a holding pen for time they are actually not providing you with anything but a space where you can't hurt yourself and medication. That was my life from early November of 2011 to April 2012.

4. What were your hallucinations/delusions/other psychiatric symptoms?

i started walking around town every night all night...sometimes appropriately dressed for the season sometimes in flip flops or pjs... in one particular instance it was day time and I was actually on campus but I was in a sleeveless shirt and sandals in Canada in October...and I was on my way to tutor this girl...at the time I thought I was a fucking genius and I had come up with the theory of dissonance...was absolutely obsessed with the idea of dissonance...anyways so I attempt to tell this girl how she should write her English paper using one of my theories...enter terrified look on her face and she leaves...I am unphased... I go to class but I can't stay long because every noise I hear is so intense it is like they are pounding in my brain and I am agitated to all fuck so I get up and leave on my way home I run into an acquaintance... he starts talking to me...I absolutely explode word vomit everywhere (keep in mind what I am wearing too) he gets a terrified look on his face and keeps walking...I am unphased but agitated...soon after I start feeling really anxious... I look up at the sky and it is churning and is all these crazy colours so I run home...I go to put my key in the lock and the lock screams at me...I run up to my room hide for a few days...other things are when I watch tv news I think all the bad things are my fault... I think I can hear things in music other people can't not messages just I'm special...notes between notes etc... I think I've found a special code in languages that makes them easier to learn... these supernatural like people are following me and and want to hurt me in some kind of undefined way...and how they will do this is they know something about me something even I don't know and they are going to use that to hurt me... I sometimes get really confused because I hear or see things that seem like they are happening but I then find out they are not happening ... odd world of reality and unreality and it becomes hard to distinguish what is part of what...sounds and images and colours and tastes etc are SO INTENSE ... I think I'm the smartest most talented person but at the same time think I'm the ugliest stupidest most useless worm to ever exist...I'm over the moon but I'm ready to die and am ready to make that so... I don't sleep...I don't eat... I just write and write and write and write... time doesn't exist...I have absolutely no clue what day or month or maybe even year it is.

5. How did you get out of the hospital?

i honestly think the episode just wore itself out...but also the massive amounts of meds I was on probably helped.

6. What are obstacles you've encountered acclimating to life on the outside?

everything. My life was absolutely destroyed by mental illness... all of my 20s were robbed from me...while all my friends were out finding love and figuring out things they liked to do and changing them into careers.. I was crazy... and so the hardest part is trying to put together a life plan..and deal with the crushing loneliness of being 31 and single having only had one previous relationship because you spent your 20s in crazyland. I've already wasted so much time... I just wanna be a regular person with a regular person job and life and seeing people with that makes me really upset...I thought it would be the practical things like housing but it is the other stuff that's the hardest...also someone applied for disability for me while I was in the hospital so when I got out it was already ready.

7. Learning experiences from the whole ordeal?

hospitals are terrible but also wonderful for some...if u have an illness like bipolar or schizophrenia chances are the hospital is just a holding pen for you...and that's fine sometimes that's what is needed...but if you think you're gonna get therapy out of it you're mistaken...you might get something like that if you're in addictions unit or ed unit or even ptsd unit but not if you're regular/miscellaneous crazy unit.

also other crazy people at the crazy hospital are nice people to know...I occasionally talk to some still.

People always try and find a bright side to mental illness... pretend like i dunno a lot of people who make art deal with it so look you can be arty! Well a lot of people who make art don't there is really nothing special about it... I fail to see an upside to something that destroyed my life and my dreams for the future.

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I'm sorry you went through such a terrifying experience. 

I haven't been IP for psychosis. But I did experience amphetamine psychosis as a teenager. I was really paranoid, thought those around me were wanting to kill me. I would hear them talking about it. It was so utterly frightening. A nightmare I couldn't wake up from. 

It took a long time after getting clean for the symptoms to subside complete. A year maybe. For a long time I was torn between believing the delusion and realising it was false. It was a lonely time, no one I could trust. I didn't really get help, no AP, nothing. I.. was afraid to reach out or confess the fears. I had no pdoc or anything then.

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