Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Look at Psychosis & His One True Purpose

As you know we worked with ETSBadges recently, we really were touched by what Wolf shared with us and so hoped he would agree to putting together a guest post on his experiences with Psychosis. When he agreed we were so excited that we didn't want him to hold back and again, to our surprise, he agreed.

We are profoundly proud of all the people we're meeting on this venture. Wolf's unmasked writing is brilliant and can help so many see there can be healing during and after some of the chaos and trickery our minds may play.
Enjoy his words fellow advocates working together to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

Psychosis has dominated me my whole life. From the time I could form thoughts, I’ve been consumed by it. My delusions are my most prominent feature of it; they’re complex, persistent, and dangerous. This is my story.

When I was five years old, I was already plotting the murder of everyone I loved. For 14 years, I consistently believed that God had for me one true purpose. My life was like a game; nothing and no one was real. I was the only genuine thing in my environment. I had to prove to God that I was focused and capable. Everyone around me were like pawns in chess, or characters in a video game. I had to prove to God that I could maintain my focus, and not have compassion for things and people that weren’t real. I was incapable of not loving people; I loved my mom, I loved my brothers and sisters, I loved my aunts and uncles, I loved my friends at school. There was nothing I could do to detach myself from these people, and believe me, I tried.
I was so harsh upon myself for my feelings of compassion. In order to prove to God that I did not have the love and compassion for these pawns, I was going to have to kill all of them.

Everything I did to act like any other kid was all for show. See, I understood the concept of psychiatric hospitals, therapy, psychiatrists. But my perception of these things were… another challenge in the game. The pawns were programmed by God himself to make things easier or harder depending on my behavior. If I acted like all the other kids, they would leave me be and killing my loved ones would be easier. If I made it known that I was aware of the illegitimacy of my surroundings, I would be put in a psychiatric hospital or some other form of intervention, making it much more difficult to follow through with my one true purpose. For 14 years I maintained the persona of someone oblivious to the fakeness of my surroundings. I went to school. I got solid A's. I participated in Soccer and Sanchin-Ryu, I played percussion in the school’s band. I talked to people and made “friends”. I obeyed the wishes of my authoritative figures. I ate and drank, used the bathroom. I even did things like pretend to be a dog when I was little, or play with toys. But all of it was ingenuine. It was all a show, so that I could easily follow through with my one true purpose once I could work up the nerve. And I couldn’t work up the nerve… I really cared about these people, these pawns.

Image, via google.
When I was 14, I fell in love for the first time. I knew he wasn’t real. And I knew that God would not approve of how hard I fell for him. But I just could not kill him. I couldn’t kill anyone, but my significant other specifically… It was too much. I thought that maybe if I kill myself instead, God will have to give me a different game/challenge. So that’s what I did. I overdosed on a variety of medications, but one of them was an antipsychotic, called Seroquel. This is the medication I am on now, every day. The same medication that killed me is the one that is saving me now. I was officially dead for about 7 seconds. Just long enough for the doctors to rush in with the paddles, and my heart started back up again on its own. I was in a coma for some time. When I finally woke up, everything was suddenly real.

I had been taking Seroquel for a while before this, but not for psychosis. It was being used as a mood stabilizer, and at a low dose. I wasn’t taking enough to help the psychosis, that no one knew I had. But when I overdosed on it… Suddenly I was here, I was real, and so were you. They brought me food to eat, and those were the realest strawberries I have ever eaten; I will never forget them. When I first woke up I was hallucinating, I took a lot of pills and my brain was still recovering. Mom’s eye fell out onto the floor, and when a nurse went to take off the heart monitor stickers, I thought my chest was expanding out and I was going to die by explosion. I couldn’t walk, and I was totally out of it. A couple hours after I woke up they took me to Pine Rest, a psychiatric hospital. I was NOT physically ready. I’m still angry that they did not evaluate my physical wellbeing at all before discharging me from the medical hospital. 

While I was sitting with my mom at Pine Rest, getting things figured out for my admittance, they kept asking me if I knew where I was. I didn’t. Every time, they’d ask, “do you know where you are?” I’d get really upset because  again, I didn’t. They would tell me, “you’re in Pine Rest. This is a psychiatric hospital, you are here because you tried to kill yourself” and I was surprised by this information every time. For months and months afterwards I still struggled to read and write. I still walk slightly different than how I did before the overdose. I was in Pine Rest for just a couple days, I was furious that I was there. Because after all, I was fine mentally. I took so much Seroquel in the overdose, it was in my system for a long long time, and I was totally cognizant of the legitimacy of my surroundings then. Mom insisted that they let me out, and they did, despite them not wanting to. I was home just in time for Christmas. The attempt on my life occurred December 16th, 2013.

My experience at Pine Rest was not a good one. I’m all for going to the hospital if you need help being safe, but it’s not fun. I should not have been there because I had not yet recovered enough physically. I could hardly walk, and I could hardly stay awake, and I was sweating the foul smelling toxins out still. The nurses and other staff there were very condescending and irritated with me for sleeping so much. They gave me all kinds of dirty looks when I would lean on the wall and struggle to make it to the nurses station for my medication. I could hardly walk, I could not stay awake, and I smelled terrible. But of course it was something I should feel bad for, according to them. They guilt tripped me extensively over the fact that I was sleeping so much. “You’re never going to get better if you refuse to participate in therapy”, “you’re never going to get out of here if you don’t care about your recovery”, all sorts of things like that. I’m glad Mom got me out when she did.

Psychosis by: SaintSazzle

After a couple weeks of sleep, I was doing pretty great for several months. The Seroquel really took care of those delusions. I was just starting to get settled in to the flow of regular genuine life, when I started getting “episodes” of my delusions back. They started as fleeting thoughts of the possibility of things not being real, and progressed to the thought process of, “damn it, I got distracted… remember your one true purpose, stop getting drawn in by the pawns”, and that could last for hours or days. In a moment of clarity, I went to the ER. I told them what was going on and that I was a severe risk to myself and others. In these episodes, I was coming closer and closer to following through with my one true purpose. People’s lives were at stake; I needed help ASAP. They did a bunch of labs and other physical tests to make sure the cause to my symptoms wasn’t physical. (as they tend to do with Medicaid patients) and when they found nothing, called the current on-call social worker.

Her name was/is Sandy. I have a lot of resentment towards Sandy, as she handled this situation extremely poorly. She listened to what I had to say about the situation, including my pleas for help, how badly I didn’t want anyone to get hurt, and my sobbing. She then said to me, “you seem just fine right now. I don’t see any reason to admit you right now” and then to Mom, “take him home, and if something happens call the police”. She then went to leave the room, and I started crying again. Begging, pleading, “Please, you don’t understand, I’m dangerous, I don’t want anyone to get hurt”, and we went back and forth like that for awhile. Eventually I said something along the lines of, “If you don’t admit me, someone is going to die, and the blood will be on your hands. I am here, asking for help. I’m doing everything I possibly can to prevent people getting hurt. This will be on you”, after that she rolled her eyes and replied, “I’m going to call my supervisor…”

Psychosis By: PandorasWolf
Sandy’s supervisor decided I should be admitted. I went to White Pines in Saginaw, MI. My experience here was not good, but much better than Pine Rest. I was a resident there for 10 days. At 7 days I told my psychiatrist I was ready to go home, but he did not believe me. I know my being there saved lives, but watching the other patients and how they were being treated was horrific.

A young kid on the ward was very much a pyromaniac. Who constantly was bragging about knowledge of where lighters were under the front porch, and  upon release was going to finish the job previously started. Loudly, and directly to the staff. This child was let out the same day. I still worry about that family. Another kid, about 9, was there because he was hyperactive. The kid's school said that returning to class was not possible until help for the hyperactivity was received because of the disruptions being caused. My approach to this situation would be to give outpatient individualized therapy, to teach how to control the struggles with volume. That is not what happened, the kid ended up admitted to White Pines. Psychiatric hospitals should only be for patients who are at risk of harming themselves or others.

During a group therapy session, that same kid was being loud and disruptive. Having been warned several times if it did not stop, that he would have to leave group. He was of course unable, so they gave him what I found to be, an excessive amount of Haldol. This is not a drug you give to someone just because they’re loud, it is a last resort when someone is truly a danger. My older brother was on it when he became extremely dangerous. Anyways, this kid got Haldol, and was knocked out for about 5 hours. After the therapy session I was sitting near a couple of nurses, who were snickering about how comatose this kid was. I was appalled.

Another patient and I played a lot of cards, as cards is pretty much the only thing to do in a psychiatric hospital. He was there for depression, and suicidal ideation. Another was there after being transferred for poising someone. I don’t know what he was in the first one for, or how on Earth he managed to poison someone in a psychiatric hospital, where you should have zero access to anything that can cause harm. 

Some were there for causing injuries to siblings, one for anxiety, and another for hallucinations. I tell you all of this to point out the problem with the variety of patients in this ward and the way they administered therapy. Any and all therapy was focused around treating depression and anxiety. There was absolutely nothing helpful if you had any other issues, other than the medication of course. You were safe, in the way that it was impossible to kill yourself or others in that setting, but therapy was not beneficial for me, as I was not there for depression or anxiety at the time. I guess I’m just glad that the medication they decided to give me was somewhat beneficial.

Tiny Dreamer By: SuperflatPsychosis

When I got out, my own home felt very unfamiliar. I was in the hospital long enough that I had gotten into the flow of the schedule and the environment. It took a little while to adjust back to my own schedule and pastimes. I kept asking Mom for permission to use the bathroom, permission to go to bed, permission to eat, permission to go outside. It was really great to draw with pencils, use the computer, and sleep without someone watching me.

I was still a bit unstable when I first got home, as I would still have “episodes” of my delusions, but they were far less severe. I was in a state where I could tell myself, “I know these things aren’t real, but I want them to be, and I feel better when they are, so I’m just going to go with the flow until I believe that they are again”. The hospital had changed my medication to Risperdal. One of the more hardcore antipsychotics, and the only one that can cause breast growth and lactation. This is a problem for me because I am a trans man and I already have breasts. This just made them much bigger, and the changes are permanent, even though I have switched back to a higher dose of Seroquel. The episodes subsided after this switch.

Seroquel has completely changed my life for the better. I hardly have any symptoms of my psychosis anymore. There are some things that trigger it though. If I watch too much of a show or movie, or read too long, I get confused about what is and isn’t real. If I take breaks to check myself in with reality, I can avoid that. Religion is a bit of a trigger for me, in the way that it causes me a great deal of upset. I have religious beliefs, but they’re more like morals than devotion. My psychosis is under control now, and I’m doing much better. I still deal with depression, anxiety, OCD, sensory processing disorder, and others, but I’m in therapy and I see a psychiatrist, and I’m managing it well. 

I am ecstatic to say, that no lives were lost in my struggles or recovery. I’m here to share, that it is never too late to get help. You are worthy and capable of recovery, no matter how far into the depths of mental illness you are. You are strong, even when you feel weak. Psychosis is hell, it’s terrifying, but it is treatable. It can be dangerous, but not always. Sometimes it’s being paranoid about people coming to get you, sometimes it’s believing that the television has a secret message for you, sometimes it’s having false psychic abilities, sometimes it’s knowing that you’re the Messiah or that God wants you to kill your entire family. Psychosis affects everyone differently, but no one is too far out there to be helped. Not everyone with psychosis is dangerous, not everyone with psychosis grows up to be a murderer. The majority of psychotics are harmless, just confused. End the stigma surrounding psychosis. It is an illness, not a flaw in character, and not something that dooms you.
Thank you for reading. I hope I have provided some insight into the affects of psychosis, and I hope that you can view us psychotics with compassion and a bit more understanding. We are just like you, and anyone else. We are ill, but we are helpable.

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