Psychosis is something that isn’t spoken about enough. It’s a topic that holds a lot of stigma and one that people are frightened to talk about.
Psychosis has a lot of stigma attached to it and is one area of mental health that is less spoken about.
I can understand this, I was scared and ashamed of my own experience of psychosis and found it very difficult to talk about. Out of all my mental health experiences, it remains the one that I still find hard. It’s not an easy thing to be open about without judgement but it’s something that will remain stigmatised unless we do. I have learned to be more open about my own experiences and talk about it more, even though it actually took me a long time to get over my worst episode in 2016 and I actually had flashbacks from the experiences I had for some time that would see me suddenly breaking down in tears.
During the hospital admission, I had in 2016 due to a severe depression following the manic episode that included the psychosis and paranoid delusions I was looking for something to read to make me feel less alone. I came across Melanie’s Book and as I read it I felt less scared, less alone and like I connected with someone.
I went on to search for Melanie and sent her a message and since then we have spoken and I even had the honor of making her some items for her wedding. Her book tells the story of her own experiences with psychosis and it is a very powerful, honest read – one that I highly recommend.
Here Melanie explains about her journey and experiences:
Life was tough. I was a young single mum with a demanding business which wasn’t making any money. I was so focused and determined that it would become successful if I put my ‘all’ into it and that this was the only way to make a good life for my daughter and me.
But the relentless work pressures took their toll and after a few years, I eventually suffered a breakdown. I had lost all control and my brain was going haywire. I couldn’t think straight, hold a conversation or even watch TV as I felt thoughts were being implanted in my head.
Unable to work any longer, my business stagnated and I was prescribed sleeping pills and sedatives to help me rest but I was unable to sleep or relax, consumed by bizarre thoughts and what felt like explosions in my brain. I was having panic attacks. A big lump would physically throb on my forehead. I felt like my body was giving up, that my legs weren’t working properly and that my brain had slipped out my head. I was so scared. I knew I was unwell but had no idea what was wrong or that I would ever get better.
The doctor said I had depression and I saw a psychiatrist and counselor who echoed the same. But none of the treatments were working, I was getting worse. I was frightened, wired, exhausted and desperate. After seven long months of this, I reached a point where I felt I could no longer carry on and was afraid I would be locked up and branded insane. I took a massive overdose hoping to die.
I came round in hospital wired up to many tubes. My first thought was “sh*t, it didn’t work.” I was completely devastated. I tried to hang myself from the orange help chord in the toilets when I thought no one was looking. The door was broken down and I was rescued, so I planned to jump in front of a train as soon as I was out of there.
Luckily I was assessed and it was decided I was to go into a secure psychiatric unit so I never got the chance. I didn’t feel lucky at the time though; I was very frightened and distressed and they took me away screaming.
Ten days into my stay I had an acute psychotic breakdown where I thought I was dying. It was a horrendous experience but I’m grateful it happened in a hospital with the professionals around me and not at home on my own. I was diagnosed with psychosis. I had never heard of that before and was upset by the word. It sounded like the psycho, right? They told me that in time and with the right medication I would get better but I didn’t believe them. I thought I was in a government drugs testing unit and spent three long months there, genuinely scared that I would never get out.
Over that time they gave me different antipsychotic medication but nothing helped until the last one they tried. Olanzapine. It was like a light switch went on inside my head. The desire to die melted away and I could feel myself returning. I could follow the conversations and laugh again. It felt like a miracle!
With the right support and medication, I made a full recovery and emerged stronger and happier than I had ever been.
I was discharged from the hospital and focussed on rebuilding my life with my daughter, who had been staying with my parents whilst I was in a hospital, who were both very close to.
I began writing as a way to make sense of everything that had happened and my book went on to sell thousands of copies, offering hope to others and their families. I found writing about my experience therapeutic and loved reading the reviews from people it had helped.
Seven years on, I keep myself well, try to stay away from stress as much as possible and now run a smaller, more manageable online business which ironically earns me a good living which I never had with the business that made me ill! I guess I’ve learned to work smarter, not harder. I spend lots of time with my friends and family and enjoy the simple things in life like the sound of my daughter’s laughter or cuddles with my cats.
My journey through psychosis has taught me some valuable lessons, not least how fragile and volatile the mind can be. I now respect my mental health and make it a priority.
Melanie’s book “The Day My Brain Slipped Out My Head and Onto the Kitchen Floor” is available on Amazon here: http://amzn.eu/iwbcMqB