‘I thought the voices were normal.’ Realising I had Psychosis

 

20170623_112231

I suffer from Bipolar disorder, well known for it’s symptoms of mania and
depression, but what many people don’t realise is that some sufferers also
experience psychosis. These could include delusions, auditory and visual
hallucinations. For me, I hear voices. This happens during periods of extreme
moods, so when I’m manic or severely depressed. I may hear voices that are
comforting or spur on my mania. Sometimes the voices are just a jumble. When
I’m depressed, it becomes disturbing. Voices will scream and shout at me,
or sneer vindictive threats. I write about one such experience here: Doubting Myself – Hearing Voices

When I was younger I thought having someone talk to me in my head was normal.
Then, as I grew older, I believe I was in denial. Something like this
couldn’t happen to me, it just didn’t seem fair. It wasn’t until I
stumbled upon an article that explained the symptoms that I began to truly
except this wasn’t right. I sat reading, with tears welling up as the
realisation dawned on me; I had been experiencing psychosis. I cried for a
long time. The idea of telling anyone I had psychosis terrified me. What if
they were afraid of me? What if they thought I was dangerous? My fear of
being labelled as ‘mad’ or ‘insane’ stopped me from being honest with
the people closest to me. I didn’t want to lose friends or have family
treat me any differently.

Even as a sufferer my view of psychosis had been skewed by pop culture
representations. You were a disturbed, dangerous individual that didn’t fit
into society if you heard voices. It couldn’t be further from the truth in
my case. I was just an ordinary woman; I was in a long term relationship, I
worked, I went out with friends. Yet I felt stigmatised before I even reached
out to anybody. I stayed silent for years, only telling my psychiatrist after
a year of treatment for Bipolar.

I eventually opened up to my partner. It was an awkward conversation, with
many pauses and silences as I struggled to explain myself. Although he
initially found it difficult to understand, he was supportive and caring. He
could see how upset I was becoming and how much of an internal ordeal I had
been through keeping this bottled up inside, and knew all I needed from him
was a hug. Later, I told my family and they excepted it with an ease I
wasn’t expecting. I have begun to be open about my experiences on social
media and the outpouring of support from friends has been incredible. I am
truly lucky to have such open minded family and friends.

I know there are people out there who don’t understand and some that are
scared of psychosis. If these people opened themselves up and had a genuine
discussion with someone like me they wouldn’t be afraid. I have met people
who believe it is edgy or cool, or use it as fashion statement. It is none of
those things and  is not something you should ever wish on yourself. It is
debilitating, bewildering and terribly frightening, but with support can be
tackled.

4 Comments

  1. TheOriginalPhoenix June 24, 2017 / 1:19 am

    Thanks for sharing your story 🙂 it was an interesting read. Happy to hear you have such a supportive family 🙂

  2. BrizzleLass July 5, 2017 / 6:10 pm

    Wow! Fantastic post! I can echo this so closely! I actually told a psychiatrist a few years ago “Unjust thought that was totally normal I didn’t realise everybody else didn’t see and hear those things” I have bipolar aswell and now know that I get quite severe psychosis with it but was oblivious for years thinking voices and hallucinations were totally normal. Life is much quieter now that it’s treated I have to say! 😂

  3. Lee Sullivan July 11, 2017 / 6:34 pm

    My little brother was about 10 or 12, when I would tell him goodnight, he kept prolonging the conversation, delaying. Finally he told me he saw this floating head one night, totally freaked him out. I said Oh, it’s a night terror. With conviction he said No, it was real. He was no fool, super-smart, he knew real from not. I reassured him that night terrors seem very real and he could be awake and still see them. He was more quelled than convinced. Much much later in his life, he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. By then, of course, I’d realized he did suffer severe mental illness, and suspected strongly schizophrenia. The point is, I didn’t believe him and nobody tried to help him all those years. Nobody knew he needed help. I hope today more credence is given to children with mental disorders and stories such as yours will encourage young people to come out of the closet before they suffer years of confusion and fear as he did.

    • Katie Conibear July 11, 2017 / 6:41 pm

      I’m sorry that happened. It’s not easy to know what to do when someone is suffering psychosis, especially when they are young. It isn’t your fault as there wasn’t as much awareness as there is now. I write in the hope that my story will help others and give them the confidence to find help. Thanks so much for reading

Leave a Reply