Schizophrenia and What a Psychotic Episode is Like
Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are scary words to a lot of people but knowing that psychotic episode is like might help alleviate that.. They assume that those of us who have these illnesses are violent and that the voices we hear tell us to kill people. This isn’t the case as my own experience with psychosis will show you. People do not need to fear people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder or their psychotic episodes.
Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and What It’s Like to Be Psychotic
I recently read a journal entry I wrote shortly after I had my schizophrenic psychotic episode. I would like to find the journal I kept during my psychotic episode, but from what I remember, it probably wouldn’t make any sense. I do know that I covered the covers of the journal with stickers, something I wouldn’t normally do. I also “communicated” with the people who I thought were following me by writing to them through my journal. So, there you have it, during my psychotic episode I spent a lot of time writing in a journal. Sounds pretty dangerous, huh?
It’s really hard for me, now, to put into words what exactly what the psychotic episode was like for me as a person with schizoaffective disorder. This happened almost 17 years ago. But, I’m trying. I remember, especially from reading the journal written when the incident was fresh in my mind, about a parallel world that zoomed in and out of reality. Not only did I think people were following me, but that the people I saw on the street were actors sent by them to give me a message. I don’t remember what the message was, but I do remember going up to random people on the street and talking to them. I didn’t shout at them or threaten them, and when they made it clear they wanted out of the conversation I left them alone. So I was a polite schizophrenic psychotic.
Since everyone I saw was an actor, every change in scenery was a new act in a play. I had no idea what my role was. When I went to a party with my friends from high school, I just hung back and hoped no one would talk to me, because part of me knew I was crazy and I didn’t know what I’d say. Again, that was very menacing. And I was back home from my college campus by then. The meds hadn’t fully kicked in yet.
I’m not saying I was a saint when I was psychotic. I chain-smoked, and snuck a few ciggies even in places where smoking wasn’t allowed. But back in the late ‘90s, smoking was allowed in more places than it is now.
Binge buying was another problem. I coaxed my dad into buying me a lot of stuff: a moonstone necklace, a long-sleeved tee from Target that had a Chinese dragon on the front, and a Goo Goo Dolls CD. (I would never have bought a Goo Goo Dolls CD if I hadn’t been psychotic.)
I also borrowed my mom’s rented car, which I wasn’t supposed to be driving, to go buy a pack of cigarettes. In fact, I would say that is the worst thing I did while I was psychotic. My driving was not impaired by my psychosis, but if I had gotten into an accident with my mom’s rented car, that would’ve been bad. But, you know what? I didn’t.
Recovery from Schizophrenic and Schizoaffective Psychosis
In the midst of all this, I went on antipsychotic medication. It eventually stopped my psychotic episode, and I credit the fact that I haven’t had a subsequent psychotic episode to my disciplined compliance with medications that caused weight gain and flattened my responses to sensations I needed to create my photographs. But I found new paths to creativity and my illness is one of them. I accepted the weight gain and exercised more to stay healthy. I wrote this to show that people with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are not inherently dangerous. But it is a hard way to learn some of life’s lessons, even the ones that made me stronger.
Photo by Elizabeth Caudy.
Caudy, E. (2015, July 14). Schizophrenia and What a Psychotic Episode is Like, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2015/07/schizophrenia-and-what-a-psychotic-episode-is-like
Author: Elizabeth Caudy
Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry things are so hard with your son. Have you tried contacting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)? Going to a support group might help you.
Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry your son is having so much trouble. Work closely with his doctors. I'm glad you've joined NAMI... they're very helpful. I always have to remind myself to take things one day at a time... or one minute at a time!
I am sorry you are having such a hard time with your son. Have you contacted your branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)? Also, here is a link to resources that can help: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources And here's a link to a book that can help: https://www.amazon.com/Someone-Mental-Illness-Accept-Treatment-ebook/dp/B004Z7SI7Q/ref=pd_sim_351_31?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B004Z7SI7Q&pd_rd_r=831a319c-7586-11e9-8ad6-676656a66066&pd_rd_w=kiRs8&pd_rd_wg=DknEp&pf_rd_p=90485860-83e9-4fd9-b838-b28a9b7fda30&pf_rd_r=VXNY1EX54GJ6J0G40HAA&psc=1&refRID=VXNY1EX54GJ6J0G40HAA
I hope that helps and I wish you the best. Elizabeth
Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear your son is having trouble. Work closely with his doctors. Sometimes it can take trial and error for doctors to find the right dosage and the right medication, unfortunately. If something doesn't seem to be working, speak up to your son's doctors. Also, make sure you're taking care of yourself, too. Find a support group for families of people with a mental illness. I know that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers support groups like that. That's the best advice I can give. Take care, Elizabeth
Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry you are having such a hard time right now. You can become whole again with treatment for substance abuse and mental illness. No matter what has happened in the past, it doesn't have to create a negative future. I encourage you to get both counseling and medical treatment as soon as possible. Some counseling can be done online if that helps for you not to have to leave home to do it. I'm including a link to hotline numbers and referral resources--it includes child abuse, substance abuse, and suicide hotlines. I hope you find this helpful. Take care, Elizabeth https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources
And another thing. I'm not the person I was before I got on medication anymore. That guy was terrified all the time anyways. Psychosis is scary. It's also embarrassing when people think it's ok to bring up stories of things you did when you weren't in reality. Sooooo embarrassing.
My last was 11 years ago after 2 long months in a hospital psych ward, finally the right combination of meds worked and i recovered over time but still had lost 2 of my children. My teenager is now in her late 20's and doesnt want to know me.
There is life after psychosis. I am remarried to a saint who is also raising my special needs child. I have weekend parental custody of the 2 I lost and we are extremely close.
Stay on your meds no matter what you think life will be like without them. If i can have a very good looking, in shape guy love me at 200 lbs. Unconditionally, you can have that too ON YOUR MEDS. You can only have chaos and paranoia, anxiety, fear and an ugly side to life if you dont take the meds that balance the chemistry in your brain. Thats all that meds do, we dont produce enough serotonin like "regular people" do.
Good Luck fellow Schizophrenic friends. I have the schizo-effective disorder, too.
I did not mean to make light of anyone's experience. I was simply trying to show that not all psychotic episodes involve violence.