Consideration is All....

Gabrielle's face melting

Last night, I experienced an 'episode'. I am finding this very difficult to write about. If there is one aspect of my illness that I am still ashamed of, it's those episodes.  I am even finding it hard right now to give them their proper name. So, deep breath and be brave:  last night I experienced a psychotic episode.  That's what it was.

 
I know that writing honestly about these psychotic episodes (PEs) will help me to do two things:
  • Clear my head and my heart of the after-shock
  • Clear myself a path back to humour
I started experiencing PEs shortly after I collapsed into a total break-down three years ago. They were relatively mild then, and they could last for days at a time.  As I became more ill and the different medications proved ineffective, they intensified and 'condensed' until that awful day when a PE started manifesting in the morning and gradually built up to such a degree that I had myself hospitalised that evening (Richard was working in London that day so I was on my own).  I always make the joke that I must be the only mental patient who has ever sectioned herself. That, of course is a misnomer, because it isn't a section if you take yourself in - but it makes laugh :0)  With the help of ECTs, my PEs have become much less numerous and they are much shorter in duration than they were when I was at my worst. PEs are Knackering - after a PE, I feel totally washed out.
 
PEs are hard to describe, because they defy description but also (and mainly) because I feel such a loss of dignity when I talk about them. However, I promised myself that I would be totally authentic in this blog so now is the time to stand up and be counted.
 
I know I am experiencing a PE because I start feeling extremely uncomfortable in my body and in my mind.  It feels like the mother of all storms is brewing and I am about to step into another reality.  I can get a long build-up towards one, or it can assault me within a few minutes of the first warning signs. Last night's was a fast mover.  I then feel an irresistible urge to destroy: everything around me, and myself too.  I feel as if the only way to release this awful destructive urge would be to pulverise everything within reach.  I also feel an irresistible urge to scream.  Yet, I have never (up until now :0), destroyed anything or hurt anybody.  How come?  Well, this is because I am both extremely fortunate and very unlucky indeed:
  • On the one hand, I am fortunate because I am one of those bipolar people who retain insight.  However awful these episodes are, I never lose self-awareness. This means that I don't need to be told I am losing it - I am the first one to know it.  I am fully aware of what is going on and that stops me doing really stupid or dangerous things.
  • On the other hand, I am unlucky because I go through these moments of hell with my eyes wide open. That means I experience them fully. I sometimes envy those poor souls who go away with the fairies during a PE.  At least, they get a break from their condition.  I never do.
One of the most shocking aspects of my illness is the people I have found myself envying.  I have just admitted to envying the poor souls who are dangerous psychotics - how sad is that! Even worse in a way, two years ago I remember having six biopsies in my right breast following screening because the X-Ray had shown a large white 'stain'.  When the result came back negative, I didn't feel relieved like everyone else around me - I felt disappointed.  I was feeling so ill and so desperate for something 'real', concrete, that could be seen, touched, cut out, discarded (instead of what felt like a nebulous poisonous cloud engulfing me) that I found myself envying those poor souls who have cancer.  How sick is that!
 
So, what did I do last night? For half-an-hour, this is what I remember thinking:
  • I desperately want to destroy everything but I must not do any damage to the house because that would upset our landlady and she is a nice person
  • I desperately want to scream but I don't want to alarm and upset our neighbours because I care about them
  • I desperately want to hit myself but I don't want to do this in front my hubby because this would be too awful for him to see so I will wait until he has gone downstairs to get me a drink and some tablets
  • It feels both terrible and such a relief to be beating my head and my face hard but I must remember to do it with open hands and not with closed fists because otherwise I will look too awful tomorrow and everyone around me will be very upset by this.
When the PE had finally subsided, I asked myself:  how on earth had I managed to be so 'reasonable' in the middle of such utter madness?!? The answer came to me in a flash and it made me laugh to tears.  Obvious: I may be psychotic BUT I am a very Considerate Psychotic!!!!
 
My hubby then said something that made the world of difference to me: PEs may take some of my will and control away but they cannot take away my character.  They can affect what I do but they can never affect Who I Am.
 
I take great comfort in this :0)

PE

G, I relate to this, when I have a panic, a bad one, I want to destroy not the things around me, but myself, for being so stupid, for feeling the way I do. I've never taken a blade to my skin as I'm too scared of the consequences but it doesn't stop me from causing myself pain to the point of bleeding, in the past I've scratched myself so har with my nails I've bled, I've hit myself in hope it'll knock sense into me and stop the panic in an instant. unfortunately whilst in "panic mode" I am fully aware of what I am doing but don't think of what happens after, don't think "what if someone see's these marks I've scratched into myself", I got clever, so I thought and did it places it wouldn't show - my stomach, my thighs etc so when out and about in civ world no one would tell an different, but in my world I would see what I'd done, and is ashames me. But I cannot prevent it from happening.

I wonder if the build up to your PE is similar to the everlasting build up to a PA. Knowin it's coming but not being able to stop it. Aware of who you are and what your body is doing but being incapable of preventing it or anything it does.

I understand you.

thank you.

xxJxx

Understanding

Thank you J - there certainly seems to be some similarities between your experience and mine. These things are so very tough to admit to without feeling utterly humiliated, aren't they! And yet we both know that we are also capable of 'brilliance', and I say this in all modesty and without any ego - you show your own brilliance in your art, that's for sure. Is this the price we pay? I sometimes wonder, even if I am aware this could be a dangerous way of looking at it. Dangerous or not, many others have asked the same question..... G xxxx

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