Blog Elle, Mental Health

Onset of Psychosis (i) Elle

John talked in his last post about the beginnings of psychosis for him, and the trauma that predated it. It has me thinking about the first time I became manic and psychotic. It also has me thinking about the similarities between psychosis and the dream state. But I need to go back a bit.

My first contact with psychiatry was frustrating and difficult. I had no language for what I was experiencing, and no confidence to express myself. I was diagnosed with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, in spite of at least trying to express that I thought I was bipolar. If the consultant didn’t appear to be listening, neither was I managing to express myself in any open way. The crucial conversation went like this:

Me: ‘I think I might be bipolar’

Consultant:Well have you ever had a manic episode before?’

Me:No

Consultant: ‘Well then…

After a few months of getting established on an anti-depressant I was discharged back to the care of my General Practitioner. I was still working in Accident and Emergency at this point, but starting to flounder.

2 months after being discharged from psychiatry my father killed himself. I don’t want to talk much about this just now, but neither do I want to gloss over the enormity of what happened. This is a topic for a later date. But my boss at work recognised the scale of the situation I was facing and encouraged me to get back in contact with the consultant psychiatrist. But when I saw him next I just kept the lid on tight and told him that I was coping well with what had happened. His response was to start me on a second anti-depressant. As all people with bipolar know, anti-depressants can be problematic, as they can drive you high. My consultant was giving me increasing doses of anti-depressant, and that and the death of my father were priming the pressure cooker. The less I slept the more the consultant increased my dose of anti-depressants. By the end of the year I was rapid cycling – 5 weeks up, 5 weeks down – metronomic. Just being hurled around by my state of mind. I was barely sleeping and dangerously ragged.

4 thoughts on “Onset of Psychosis (i) Elle”

    1. I think that anyone facing those massively difficult and uncertain early days of developing mental illness goes through hellish times. The uncertainty and confusion are huge. The condition is untreated therefore being lived in the raw. And all the time you’re trying to talk to psychiatrists in a language you’ve never used before. It is (and was for me) a really tough time. (Elle)

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