Warning: This post deals with mental health and might be triggering for some readers.
I recently suffered an acute psychotic episode and before it happened, I only associated psychosis with people who suffer from schizophrenia or the heavy drug users you see on TV wielding a knife and adamantly declaring to be Jesus.
I guess I didn’t realise how common it can be. In fact, according to Sane Australia, in any given 12-month period, just under one in every 200 adult Australians will experience a psychotic illness.
Sane Australia defines psychosis as “a mental disorder where a person loses the capacity to tell what’s real from what isn’t. They may believe or sense things that aren’t real and become confused or slow in their thinking. Psychosis often occurs as a part of other mental illnesses. It is treatable.”
For me, the psychosis didn’t set in until I was already in a very acute depressive state and hadn’t slept for several days. Suddenly I felt like I had figured out a massive deception, I adamantly believed that my parents had been paying my partner as a “carer” because I was so pathetic and no one could actually love me in real life. I was deranged.
Osher Günsberg on what it’s like to experience psychosis. Post continues after podcast.
I was experiencing a delusion of paranoia. It was a grandiose delusion given my partner and I have been together for five and a half years and had got married the previous year. I confronted my partner and my dad and I still remember the terrified look in their eyes, which at the time, I thought was because I had finally figured out the truth.
When in reality it was one of their scariest moments seeing someone they love suffering such a delusional state and not being able to be convinced otherwise. I think that was when the reality set in for them on how sick I really was at the point in time.
The cause of psychosis isn’t always easy to identify, it is commonly linked to drug use or lack of sleep and the latter definitely applied in my situation. There are also illnesses that can lead to psychosis, principally brain diseases and brain tumours as well as some types of dementia.