What if we need to break down in order to rebuild?
First time commenter; I got the email digest that a new article was out, and I only had the chance to skim through, but what was said about psychosis and the experience of it—that really resonated with my own incident and it's relieving to know I'm not alone in the experience.
Thank you for writing and sharing this.
Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. I experienced my first manic episode last summer and had a very parallel experience to yours. I appreciate the nuance with which you talk about the experience--as I’ve sought to read similar experiences from others, I’ve found that most people either describe their mania or psychosis in a sort of embarrassed way that writes off the experience to randomness (“I just went off the rails for a bit”) or, rarely, as some kind of pure spiritual experience that shouldn’t be medicalized (see: “Am I Bipolar or Am I Waking Up?”) My actual experience was like yours--deeply spiritual, meaningful, chaotic, full of symbolism, destructive, and yeah, in parts, shameful and out of character.
So much of the shame and depression that followed for me was due to a lack of opportunity to meaningfully process the experience. My amazing former therapist, who works psychodynamically, literally had no idea what to do with me in a manic state and discharged me as a client after 2 years! She basically freaked out and refused to engage with me on a therapeutic level other than pushing me aggressively toward medical treatment, which I was looking for regardless. I believe that the things we experience in mania and psychosis have some kind of psychological purpose, even if we don’t understand it all yet. I could keep rambling about this, but I’ll stop here. thanks again!
I have Schizoaffective Disorder. My big breakdown came after surviving a punishing marriage, only to find myself two years later paranoid; seeing people at my windows at night, and unable to leave the house. After six weeks with not answering the phone or door the police department came to my darkened home to perform a wellness check and took me to the hospital. I spent 18 months in an institution that was closed several years ago by Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. I credit that institution with saving my life.
I spent more time in an outpatient community mental health program and eventually purchased a condo, which I’m now selling to move into assisted living. My manic episodes have been sometimes humorous, if not ridiculous and stupid, like the time I took my Ford Taurus to the dealership for an oil change and went home with a new BMW. AND of course saw the need to break in the engine properly, working it up to 125 mph. Justifying it as what should be done and in my authority to do as a new BMW owner. Of course had I been picked up for speeding, law enforcement would have cut up my license on the spot, but that never occurred to me. And I couldn’t understand why my family wasn’t enthusiastic about my purchase. I chalked it up to sour grapes.
Even with treatment medication and therapy my Schizoaffective Disorder has not been easy to treat. From rats on the floor and huge spiders dropping from the ceiling, to the belief that men dressed as killer clowns were disrobing me for an operation while I lay in bed have left me frozen, unable to scream out for help.
I don’t watch horror films for this very reason. My mind’s reality is too scary q ttqQo need any interjecting from outside elements.
thanks so much for writing this! so much nuance, compassion, understanding - it feels really helpful to read your integrated perspective while im inside of an experience that sounds like it has a lot in common with what youre describing.
ive always felt really cautious around getting diagnostic labels for myself, and im starting to examine that! if you dont mind me asking, what do you feel like youve gotten out of trying on labels like schizoaffective and bipolar?
This was so interesting to read! I am not bipolar myself but have gone through long ordeals of dealing with OCD and on a certain level intrusive thoughts make sense on some level to ‘protect’ us I guess.. but mine swerved into delusion territory where I was convinced I was being possessed by demons. The subconscious is so strange truly!!! Also in terms of mental hygiene, what do you do to keep up with this? I like to do meditation and engage with creative hobbies. I have had trouble in the past getting stuck in routines but I’m looking to change that a little. Thanks for your writing :)