May 6, 2014

There’s a first for everything. Micky@FlickrIn the past year and a half I have had my first experience of being sectioned, of psychosis, bipolar disorder, mania and scary intrusive thoughts.

After a period of stress, I experienced my first bout of psychosis

Being sectioned was the most debilitating experience of my life but also the most illuminating. After a period of working in a stressful job and sleep deprivation I experienced my first bout of psychosis; hearing voices, hallucinating and strange scary thoughts. Paranoia was high - thinking that I was under surveillance by my work colleagues and housemates. I got through this experience with the support of my family visiting me on a daily basis in the ward and talking to me about every day normal things in life whilst I was still experiencing a strange unreal world.

My family visited me in hospital on an almost daily basis

After I came out of hospital all seemed well for a while and I went back to work and stopped taking my medication. Then came the mania; confidence which I had always struggled with was high; running around at all hours of the day; spending money frivolously and behaving recklessly were all part of the experience. Back into hospital; sectioned yet again. Upon my leaving hospital I was still manic but back on medication to control it.

It was a few weeks after leaving hospital that I started to experience scary, intrusive thoughts. The kind of thoughts that no one wants to be having; thoughts that were so scary, real and unlike myself that I didn’t know how to cope with them thus starting a spiral of depression, panic attacks and low confidence. I spent my time ruminating about these thoughts; convincing myself that I was a terrible person for having such thoughts and because I was so wrapped up in my thoughts, losing the confidence to talk to others. Back to hospital again. Again my family visited me on an almost daily basis.

I summoned the courage to share some of the thoughts I was having with my family

It wasn’t until one of the psychiatrists in the ward said that it sounded like I was having obsessive intrusive thoughts that I understood that this was a condition that other people were going through. So I started researching it and realised many people have had similar intrusive thoughts and that there are means of combating them mainly by paying them no heed and allowing them to flow in and out without reacting to them thus diminishing the hold they have over you. I was terrified of sharing these intrusive thoughts with others as I thought they would classify me as weird or dangerous. However, I summoned the courage to share some of the thoughts I was having with my family who simply said that the thoughts were just thoughts. Even with these words ringing in my ears it wasn’t until I started CBT that I really finally began to accept that the thoughts were just thoughts and that they started to become a little less scary.

The support I’ve had from my family through these ‘firsts’ has been truly indispensable

The support I’ve had from my family through these ‘firsts’ has been truly indispensable. Not once did anyone blame me for anything and I put them through a lot. Through the highs and lows they have been there supporting me and not allowed my experiences to define me. I hope that others going through the same have support as it’s so crucial when your confidence is low and nothing seems real.

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