April 23, 2013

KevinPsychosis is described as 'involving a "loss of contact with reality". It occurs in a number of different mental health conditions, including the condition I have, Bipolar type 1.

I have had psychotic breaks since I was around 12/13. It comes in three main forms for me. Firstly, I hear voices. I am not *instructed* by these voices, what happens is that they pass comment on me, telling me what a failure I am mostly. Secondly, I see things. Normally bugs on the ceiling next to a light fitting. Occasionally I will see people. Very rarely I will see ribbons of light that loosely resemble the northern lights. Lastly, I very occasionally get touched by something, usually on the back of my hand or the side of my face.

Hallucinations can be weak or strong

I dislike hallucinations. They can be weak (I may hardly see things or voices may be talking in faint whispers) or they can be strong (I see things clearly or I can have issues hearing the real world because of how loud the voices are). I know they are not real but they are intrusive and sometimes dealing with them is hard. They are constantly here.

Psychosis is word and a concept that people who have never experienced it think of as dangerous or scary. I remember talking to one of my future in-laws who asked me if the psychotic episodes meant I was dangerous. This person had every right to ask. They were looking out for their family members. After all, films like Psycho and the myriad of imitators it spawned make it clear that psychosis equates to danger. Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire ripper) and the Son of Sam both claimed that they heard voices. Those sorts of things imprint themselves on a society.

The word 'psychosis' has cultural connotations

So, 'coming out' to people who don't have a mental health issue and who therefore cannot be expected to (initially) see past the cultural connotations of the word 'psychosis' or the term 'psychotic behaviour' is both risky and scary. All my family know I have almost constant psychosis and they know it’s not very well controlled with Quetiapine. But a lot of my friends don't know. And certainly a lot of my clients (I'm a freelance web developer) don't know either.

Telling someone you have a mental illness is one thing. Telling them it’s Bipolar is another. Telling them you hear voices, see people who aren't there and occasionally feel them touching you on the side of your face is quite another thing entirely.

I had been at my latest clients for 5 days

I had been at my latest clients for 5 days (as a freelancer you sometimes work in your client's offices) when my hallucinations took a sudden and profound upturn in their severity. It got to the point where I could hardly hear what my colleagues were saying over the noise of the voices and I could hardly see what was in front of me without concentrating to an exhausting degree. I took a couple of days off but things got no better.

As a freelancer you live and die on the relationships you build. I did not want my health issues to mean I parted from my client with them assuming I was unable to do the specified work. A few of those and your reputation takes a nosedive.

They couldn't have been more understanding

So, with the urging and support of my wife, I told them the truth. I explained I had a mental illness and what it meant exactly in terms of me freelancing for them. They couldn't have been more understanding or supportive. They made sure I knew that the work I'd done for them was of very high quality and that they were delighted with it. They also made it clear to me that when I felt better I should contact them so they knew I was OK and (maybe) do some more work for them.

It was a massive relief that they reacted as they did - as it is every time you tell someone that you have a mental health issue and they understand - and helped me to relax and concentrate on trying to deal effectively with the issue.

Some people do react badly though

However you can't always rely on friends, family and employers/clients to react well. Sometimes they react badly and I have had instances where people I have told are simply unable to deal with it and can't see past the incorrect Norman Bates connotations.

You can sense a pulling away on their part; of them trying to introduce space between you. That, for me, is the worst aspect of admitting to someone you have psychotic breaks: a friend slipping away. Sadly it’s inevitable that some people just cannot deal with it. You have to find a way past that and carry on dealing with what you have.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?

Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or sign our pledge wall to show your support and find out how talking tackles mental health discrimination.

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.


Thanks for sharing

Hi Kev Thanks so much for sharing these experiences. I also have bipolar and just in the past year I have started having delusions. I am fortunate that I *know* they are delusions, but it doesn't stop me from having a complete reaction of panic, because they're really scary. I feel strongly about people's misuse of the term "psychotic" as if people with psychosis are scary people when in fact it's the sufferers of psychosis who are generally having the scary experience! I blogged about this very topic recently - be interested to know your thoughts? purplepersuasion.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/psychotic-whats-in-a-name/ Best wishes Charlotte

experience of psychosis

Thank you for sharing your experience Kev, it helps people also affected with the same issue feel less isolated.

The cliche that is "their loss"

It is indeed sad when people seem unable or unwilling to allow mental illness become part of their world. On one hand it is understandable; if it's possible to avoid involvement with something which takes time and effort to understand and familiarise yourself with and, perhaps most importantly, doesn't have to impact your life on a daily basis then surely you would opt out? In some cases perhaps people have enough on their plate already, and it is simply too much to add this dimension to their life, until it impacts them more directly at least. I'm of the view that, by and large, humans are selfish and self-preserving first and foremost, and those who fit this mold are generally not worth missing if they do opt out. I would argue that you'd never see a true friend slip away, as they'd be willing to let your illness become a part of their life. It is undoubtedly hard to be let down by someone who you perhaps would have considered a reliable friend, but it adds value to those you cherish in your life that are big enough to accept you for who you are. All the best, Kev.

reply to kev

I also have bi polar effective dissorder, thinking about what you said about being upset that friend retreat from you knowing your diagnosis. To be perfectly honest I don't blame my friends who have backed off, it's far to difficult to be a friend or family to people like us. We are either the life and sole of the party or (in my own case) in the depths of despair. We isolate our selves at times at other times we don't understand why we have no close friends. I don't think I would want to my friend or my son or daughter. I remember the look of fear in my granddaughters eyes when my daughter explained to her why I was sometimes strange. She is ok about it now I'm still grandma.


I have questions about psychosis I used to look at stars and think it was UFOs coming to get me. Not as bad. When I am really off, I also think about being a monster like a dragon. For years since I was a kid ( may be part of the aspergers) I would think about having power( to fly , be invisible etc) I still do Are these examples of psychosis? Please do not give out email address

Response to Kev's post

Thanks Kev, I found this a really helpful description of psychosis, and what it's like to live with it. It sounds like a lot of hard work at times, but also something you've really worked out how to live well with. I really appreciate you sharing your experience, and am glad you've had some really supportive responses as well as the sadness of losing friends. Many thanks again, and wishing you good things in life.


Hi Kev Really like your blog, thanks for sharing. It really struck a cord with me when you talked about friends 'slipping away' and 'pulling apart' - I have found this since I 'came out' about my mental health over the last year after 25 years. It makes me so sad, I think about it every day. I haven't quite found 'a way past that' yet, but I hope I do. It helps to read from others who are / have experienced similar situations. I think it is really helpful that you have explained what your psychosis is like and how it can present / manifest - I hope that will give people a better idea of what psychosis can be like for people - obviously, it varies. Thank you for sharing and it's warming to hear that your client at the time was so supportive - as they should be! Nice one, cheers Leanne

Psychotic behavior.

I would just like to say thank you to Kev for his openness and honesty about his illness. I am not Bipolar but know how debilitating it can be when bordering on psychotic moments. I have suffered with severe depression for most of my life with episodes of eating disorder relapses (anorexia) caused by OCD. Hallucinations and hearing voices were the scariest parts for me. I have had many years of Therapy which have been very helpful, but now on long term medication I feel more stable and able to cope with life. Though I am still a long way off of being able to communicate comfortably with other people. Perhaps part of that comes from not explaining to people what my disorder means for me. I'm so pleased that I read your blog, as it helps me to realize that it is still possible for me to reach further goals, to be honest with myself and to hopefully be accepted for who I am. Many Thanks I am truly grateful.


I am also diagnosed with BP1, been for nearly 8 years. Not until quite recently did I realise that the shadows I see moving past me and the voices I hear, calling my name - are hallucinations. They are so clear and real that I never even realised that no-one else can see/hear it. I now wonder what else may be hallucinations, which I have always taken to be true reality. Which things in my life am I the only witness of? Which of these influence negatively in my life without me even knowing.

thank you for printing

thank you for printing this..my grandson has just been sectioned again. i think i understand his problem a little better from your blog. i will pass it on to him because he doesn't understand his illness when he's in the middle of a physicotic episode.i'm hoping by understanding his illness he might be able to cope with it better

kevs blog

A very interesting&inspiring read.good on you.xxx

Thank you

Thank you Kev, reading your blog has helped me understand a little more what my Dad may have been experiencing. He has psychotic depression and delusions. Not sure if he had hallucinations but he was certainly told he wasn't in the real world the last time he saw the psychatrist and he thought the police were coming to get him and he was a bad person. I had never even heard of psychotic depression before. Psychosis is a scary word but what you've written has helped me understand it is also very misunderstood.

Asian mother who had Bi Polar

As an Asian woman/wife/mother/daughter I have had Bi polar disorder. Family could not recognize this as a mental disorder/illness even if extreme mood changes were happening. This disorder is not widely understood by some minority communities, which sadly can lead to discrimination as well as other personal problems/breakdowns within family. The disorder started after birth of 3rd child who is now aged 7. After 1st episode went to see GP who advised me "even managers can get stressed" and without proper diagnosis prescribed me PROZEP. This did not help and the disorder then continued, I myself knowing full well was not quite right. My partner also could not understand anything. After seeing some other members of the Asian community suffer with similar symptoms (and subsequently hospitalized), family members could relate to me. I have not been back to the GP about my disorder even though experiencing a couple of more episodes. I have found that keeping myself busy/occupied things have improved. The "loss of contact with reality" is an accurate statement. Lots of awareness is needed about many mental health conditions especially in minority communities. STIGMA needs to end.


Thank you for sharing your experiences Kev. I have bipolar condition but no psychosis I am pleased to say.

Mental illness

The more that courageous sufferers of mental illness speak out about their problems and share with others,hopefully the greater the understanding will grow.

My best friend

I found this post reassuring. My best friend has recently been diagnosed with bi polar disorder (about 7 months ago), he crashed his car on purpose and has been hearing voices and having psychotic episodes ever since. He also has an alcohol problem which is so difficult to approach. Since his diagnosis he has been coming to terms with the fact that he has bi polar disorder and with the realization that many of the things/ voices/ experiences he had were in fact hallucinations, he has been taking his medications and going to various councillors and psychiatrists. I met with him this evening, which is why i was looking for some information, as he seems to have relapsed (if thats the correct word to use) and is convinced the voices in his head are real again and are real people communicating with him (some kind of mind connections with people). He still lives with his parents, part of the time with his Mum, who in psychotic episodes turns into a tiger, and his dad, and they don't really communicate with each other. He becomes very aggressive and manic during episodes and i just don't know how to react to him: i do get scared of him. This evening after i left him i phoned his dad (who he is staying with) to let him know that he has become psychotic again, as he has a very busy work life and i know they don't talk in the same way we do. i feel like i have betrayed my friend... I have no idea how to help him and i'm not really in a position where i can, in the same way that his parents are. I am able to deal with and relate to the depression part ( as my father has had problems with depression since i was a teenager) but the psychosis and delusions i find very difficult to know what to say or do when my friend is completely convinced by his hallucinations (especially when i know how aggressive, and more importantly, self destructive he can be) I am trying as much as i can be be a good friend and to be a part of his life and see him as much as i can, but i am finding it so hard when i feel so helpless. I only recently realized that psychosis and bi polar disorder were linked and this post has shown me that he is not alone in his symptoms and experiences.

Talking about mental health

Talking about mental health conditions like Bipolar can be difficult but it's great that you want to support your friend - you can find some tips on talking about mental health here: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talk-about-mental-health/tips - it may help you to find out a bit more about the condition. You can find out more on the Mind and Rethink Mental Illness websites or call their infolines for expert, confidential advice - their contact details are here: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/help-support-services

Bi-Polar nooo not me! lol

I wad diagnosed with bi-polar last year. After trying several meds and having adverse reactions to them all. I decided to quit them for a while and see what happens. Honestly, my most severe symptom is auditory hallucinations. I am constantly hearing voices telling me what a failure I am and taunting me for every mistake I have ever made in my life. Its crazy because I never thought that I would have a disability. I became very isolated for a while but I tried my best to get off my rear end and get socializing again. I have to be completely honest though, its not easy. Every day is a challenge and trying to explain to people what is wrong just makes them more perplexed. I have seen looks of shame, non belief and confusion. I would reccomend to anybody who feels alone to just remember that we all have to face challenges but we cannot let our problems define who we are.

side b

Kevin, thanks for sharing your experiences but vas the partner of someone with similar issues for six years there is another side to this for some there is rage, violence a heartless disconnect that can impact loved ones severely. In the end the last brake my loved on had I had to let them go. Sometimes those affected trust the wrong people and have other issues that compound the main challenge to be overcome. This is not something to take lightly. I lost children due to the stress of this relationship so we all must be considerate of both sides of the situation.

Bipolar with psychotic too

My son was diagnosed this am. He is currently hospitalized and does not believe he is. He refuses medications. He has hallucinations auditory and visual. Medication will now be forced on him per a court order. I thank you for your blog kevin..it has helped my see the diagnosis more clearly. I hope he will finally see how tortured mentally he is and will get some peace. its so hard to deal with this when he doesnt think anything is wrong with him!! Thank you again for the insight. God bless!

bipolar/ psychosis

hello, my partner unfortunatelly about 3 month ago started to go to meditation classes and after the third time he went, he stared to say that he was hearing voices, about 5 days after that he had a psychosis including hallucinations; he was diagnosticated with bipolar disorder more than 10 years ago, but he never admitted therefor he refuses to get help or medication. as he accuse my self and his family to do horrible things to him, what can i do to help him? will he one day realise that the hallucinations are not real? many thanks for your help.

Yes when having pyscosis

Yes when having pyscosis epesode it happens h s the only one come out other end


Sorry what you are going through. I have psychosis. I had a psychotic episode back in 2013. I get symptoms like when I watch TV I think what the TV is saying its refering to me and talking about. I think I am being watched all the time in my house. I have paranoia. And think people are out to hurt me. I also think the police are following me. Its a very hard illness to deal with. I'm on medication but I'm going to talk to my psychiatrist about reducing the amount i am having (75mg) and just slowly take me off it. I want to be medication free cause i am sick of the side effects to the anti-psychotic medications. Hopefully by slowly taking me off my medication I won't have a relapse, but that is a risk i am willing to take. I'm having a hard time coping at the moment. I find it hard going out being around people. I want to be able to feel safe around people. I'm not the same person since i got sick. Alot has changed. I use to be happy but I'm not any more. Just don't know the answer. I don't hear voices which is a good thing.

bi polar type 1

i am bi polar Type 1.I have paranoia.Its hard to be around people.I cant understand their conversations,it feels like they are talking about me.When i express this feeling and that its a part of my mental illness,it makes it worse.Like they are doing it on purpose.Its hard to except love,easy to push it away.Slowly i have come out of seclusion,still i walk alone.Still i live,I wont give up.Gladly this is also a part of my mentality.

Bi-polar 1 with psychosis

I am trying to determine if I was mid-diagnosed or if what I was told I have is actually correct or not. Two years ago, when I was 58, I was diagnosed as being bi-polar 1 with psychosis. The diagnosis came from a psychiatrist who I had never met, and she made it in about half an hour. As far as I know, I have never had a 'manic' episode, although I have been 'depressed', though never given medication from my doctor to cope. The depressive times in my life came from divorce, job loss and stress rather than from a 'psychiatric' source. What DID happen was that after four days without sleeping, and after a lot of marijuana, I scrubbed my face to the point of my skin being quite raw. When I did go to the hospital emergency looking for relief, I was sent to the mental health ward and required to remain for six weeks until they were satisfied that I was not a 'danger to the public'. As it turned out recently,after having been to the skin specialist, I was told I have seborrheic dermatitis, and the creams and salves and diet changes have done a lot to reverse the discomfort. The medications were mostly discontinued by order of the psychiatrist, who I talk to twice a year, and no other visits were necessary. I still don't know why I was diagnosed with 'psychosis', as I have never had a hallucination. The medications, however, have made me gain fifty pounds and really put extra burden on my arthritic knees, my cholesterol has gone sky high, and my blood pressure is through the roof. I feel I have been hard done by, but none of the doctors are willing to point any fingers at each other. How can I find out if this doctor that made the diagnosis has made an error? She doesn't even work at that hospital anymore.

Response to Kev's post

Thank you for sharing. I am bipolar 1 and am very open about it. People ask me questions and I answer them. Some people think you are nuts, but I correct the perception people have about us. Some make jokes about it in a negative sense. My response is that I am more sane than what they are. My meds keep me on the straight and narrow and thankfully, I have a very supportive family and friend network

Stigma of mental illness

I personally understand the stigma of mental illness and alienation even by family members. I watched my mother struggle with bipolar disorder throughout my early life and her eventual suicide in 1984. I struggle with depression and PTSD as a result of a traumatic childhood and life which has alienated me from many friends and family sadly. I am an artist and use my painting when I am overwhelmed with too much life. I am thankful for my gift of art and have put many of my paintings on Facebook and Pinterest. I always wondered what my mother's life must have been like as I discovered after her death that she had visual and auditory hallucinations. I am so happy to see mental illness becoming destinations and it is such a freeing feeling after All these years of hiding.

Thanks for explaining

Hi, thanks for sharing. I've always been unsure what psychosis is everytime my doctor asks me if I experience it. I guess I got so used to it that it makes it difficult to identify. I believe I've had panic attacks that occured during psychosis. Often, I hyperventilate. I think now it's clearer to me that I do experience psychosis to some degree.

So sad

My GF at 21 went off her bipolar meds and has evidently entered psychosis. I was a kind boyfriend and knew about the bipolar so when she started blacking out stone cold sober and forgetting things and arguing with me about bizarre topics (meeting her grandma, saying "I love you" too many times, et al) I knew she needed to get back on her medication. I reminded her each day but she refused. The first 12 months of our relationship it was a dream. But the disease took it all away. It was like Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde and by the time the relationship was over Mr. Hyde took over. She was accusing me of bugging and tracking her phone, cheating on her, swore that six anonymous people told her all about all my cheating. Even accused me of blatantly having sex with another girl in the living room while she was sleeping. She sent me a pig mask with the eyes X'ed out with a clown wig, posted up defamatory posters around my neighborhood with my picture on them and my phone number. She really is a sweet girl when she's normal. In 14 months she only acted like this for 2. I had to let her go. The final straw was I wanted to go camping with her before summer ended and she got so upset she ended up going to the roughest part of downtown smoking crystal meth with random people losing her purse ID and cards and landed herself in jail wearing someone else's shirt over top of hers. We fought because I wanted her to get an STD test and I wanted to bsee the results just to be sure. I know meth makes you horny AF and she was blacked out drunk and high half the time. I had to let her go. What an awful disease. I know she will probably come back and say she is sorry at some point in the future when the mainia subsides, but I have to think of my own happiness first. I have never allowed myself to be so mistreated in my life. Most girlfriends would be on their knees begging for forgiveness after an episode like that, she was angry with me! I wasnt the one who landed my self in jail high on crystal meth over a minor disagreement. I care about her so much and miss the girl she used to be. We spent nearly 450 days together every single day it was wonderful. But I can't wait around and suffer waiting for the episode to end only waiting for the next one to pop up. Poor girl, poor people with bipolar. I feel for you all who suffer. Please just understand what the loved ones go through.


Thank you Kev I'm so gratefull for your explanation of psychosis. I have bi polar affective dissorder I hear voices putting me down or telling me to do things. There is a car just started to park round the corner from my house and things have been moved around my house not in the place I've put them. I think the voices are mine but there is lots of them. I didn't known that it was psychos.

Living with bipolar

I am a recovering drug addict.when I was u seing I was a functiong addict.I payed cash for a nice middle class home had nice vehicles and raised three children.I got involved with a looser guy I met. He shot meth (I never did that) while we were darting he became destructive to my property and quite mean so I tried to break it off with him.this made him very angry,so he plotted to get me back.We got back togeather(I thought) but his plan was to tear me down ....he wiped out my bank account put ideas in my head that I and my children were in danger he cut all the ends of the cords on everything in my home like lamps and appliances ect..said it was not him doing it.he would stand in front of the window and throw up gang signs to invisable people outside.he had me convinced he was going to take my kids and I to a ranch in Colorado and hold us captive as slaves before he killed us.this terror went on for 8mths.i started hearing voices and seeing things I was under so much stress.he started destroying my home and cars I sent my youngest child to her grand parents out of fear across the country.long story short I lost everything I became mentally ill was hospitalized 5times diagnosed with bipolar manic depression lost custody of my little girl my life savings I became penniless had to move he went to prison.today Its been almost 4yrs I live not far from my youngest child I'm on meds I go to counseling I live next door to my parents have a piece of junk car and collect ssi. Trauma is what brought on my bipolar.i hear voices when I get manic and try to deal with them the best way I can.he knew what he was doing .he got one year in prison cause I was to scared to testify.i was just reading the blog and wanted to share. Thanks Kevin for yours.ive learned to live with my mental illness now and without a man.lol

What did you think of this blog? Tell us in the comments