Tag Archives: psychosis

Shame and Psychosis article for Time to Change

My latest article for Time to Change, a campaign in the UK aiming to end mental health discrimination. (name has been changed)

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Three years ago last month, my mind lost touch with reality in a very rapid turn of events that culminated in an acute manic episode of bipolar affective disorder. Having been diagnosed with bipolar in 2004, I had not experienced any mania or hypomania (a lesser manic state) in ten years, although I had fallen into a suicidal depression just six months earlier. So when my brain fell into full blown psychosis – with delusions and grandiose thoughts, fearful thoughts about loved ones and being in danger and a complete change in rational perception – it ripped apart the fabric of my life and all I knew. I am writing this to explain what psychosis is really like.

I was just 25 and although I had experienced a mixed state which left me hospitalised at 16 (and had experienced some psychosis then), this was by far the most challenging, lengthy and painful bout of mania and psychosis that I had experienced. I began to believe that my step father was behind why I was in hospital and wouldn‘t let him see me, I thought that the doctors and nurses were a gang holding me hostage. I was fearful of everything, talking and singing to myself, unable to sit still and became quite agitated at times with the staff and patients, which is completely out of character for me. I simply didn’t know what was real or unreal and I was so frightened of the staff and others while my brain was in this state. Eventually, I recovered after about two months of being given anti-psychotic medication and tranquilisers to help me rest (often I was pacing around due to agitation/ mania), in combination with individual and group therapies. I left hospital after three months.

I rarely talk about my psychotic state, which led me to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. This is due to shame: I was ashamed of myself even though it wasn’t my fault – rather down to faulty brain chemistry and my medication that had stopped working. There is still a huge amount of stigma about psychosis and anything that makes you lose your sanity. My psychosis is part of my bipolar illness and happened completely out of the blue. My mood stabiliser hadn’t been holding me for some time but no one could have predicted quite how rapid my descent into psychosis and illness could have been (it took only a number of days and escalated at a weekend, leaving me to be admitted via A&E, which proved traumatising).

The shame of losing your mind is great and also acting out of character shatters your self-esteem. When I left hospital, I sunk into a depression due to the shame of how I acted in hospital and how my brain and its chemistry could go so catastrophically wrong. Kindness goes a long way when you are feeling ashamed. If you have a friend or family member struggling with this – be calm, show kindness, and show up for them. They need your support at what is an incredibly painful time. Let the person with feelings of shame about their illness know that they are human, that they are an important friend to you, and stand by them.

What truly helped me in those dark days was the attitude of my psychiatrist in hospital and in the day recovery unit I attended after. Despite being psychotic and unwell in hospital and quite agitated at times, my doctor persevered to get me on the right medication and put up with my changing moods. She knew that if I took anti-psychotics and then agreed to go on lithium carbonate (the main mood stabilising medication for bipolar disorder) that I would recover – even if it took me months to get there. It was a slow recovery but I got there in time. Her patience, perseverance and kindness saved me from a very acute episode of illness. Similarly, the psychiatrist and all the staff at the Day Recovery Unit helped me in my down days starting on lithium and having regular blood tests, recovering from being very unwell and they treated me like a human being, when I had felt so ashamed.

If it wasn’t for the Doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and other staff who looked after me  and helped build me back up, I wouldn’t be here today.

There is no need to feel ashamed, although you may do.

Although I still find it hard to talk about my descent into a psychotic state – I am so grateful to the NHS for all the help I was given and have been well for some time. I hope this article helps others in a similar position – you are not alone and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed.

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/blog/there-should-be-no-shame-experiencing-psychosis

Guest Post: How Deepdene Care helps support people with psychosis.

deepdene

by Rhona Mackenzie, Clinical Director, Deepdene Care

For more please clink link above or see http://www.deepdenecare.org.uk/

Be Ur Own Light is happy to partner with Deepdene Care,a health provider in the UK


At Deepdene  we support people with severe mental health issues such as psychosis.

 

As mental health problems are often complex and involve an array of factors, the best course of action for any case is structured, multi-faceted approach that is rolled out over months and possibly years with the primary objective of reducing the impact of the condition on an individual’s life.

 

As a service provider we have to look at the bigger picture:

 

Staff have a deeper understanding

A high level of staff training is an intrinsic part of any treatment and care plan.

 

We train staff to understand and increase their knowledge of all mental health conditions. In the case of psychosis, they are taught to be aware of what hallucinations and delusions are, so that they can act in a proper, effective manner, and are also taught how brain chemicals can affect people. This gives them an educated insight, which not only helps with treatment, but allows them to understand what an individual is going through, ensuring empathetic responses.

 

In addition, staff have to have an understanding of the side effects of medication. So, again, they are properly equipped to be able to help the service users and approach them with understanding.

 

Therapies and activities

Therapies and activities are also a key factor in the recovery process, especially occupational therapies, where service users are able to fill their time with meaningful activities. This helps individuals gain routine in their lives, bringing a sense of direction back into what they do and acting as a representation of everyday life.

 

Getting to know the person and their symptoms 

It is essential that anyone with psychosis under our care is supported and treated as an individual, as each case is completely different from another and symptoms can vary quite dramatically. This is why we place a great deal of focus on listening to patients, observing their behaviours and supporting them in every way possible.

 

We also promote therapeutic relationships between staff and service users, with the central goal being to build trust and respect among them.

 

Destigmatising mental illness

As a mental health provider, we have to advocate and educate people to destigmatise mental illnesses and accept the person the way they are – promoting empathy among team members and throughout the service as a whole.

 

If a person has had a mental illness they are usually more understanding and empathetic towards another mental health sufferer. If a service user/person is being discriminated against, we may need to support them on how to deal with that.

 

Outside support

We also support those with psychosis through outside professionals like psychologists.

 

But, and we can’t stress this enough, none of our work would be effective, if we don’t support, respect and accept the individual for the way they are.

 

Mental Health Recovery

Our ultimate goal is to have individuals be responsible for their own behaviours, which is why we look to educate them to self-support their own physical, emotional and social needs, while we are on hand to offer support when necessary. Almost like a safety net to cushion any falls individuals may have on their personal journey to recovery.

 

It’s important to dispose of any one-size-fits-all solution. This is about treating the person as an individual, accepting their illness as part of their individuality while at the same time seeing them as a whole person and not just defining them by their mental health condition.

 

Self-belief is a huge part of the recovery process and we’re able to help individuals develop their esteem, empowering them by educating them on relationships, finance, occupation, choices, diet, exercise and lifestyle. Placing control back into their own hands through guidance and advice.

 

It’s important to understand individuals so that we know when they are at their best, at which point we can work with them to develop crisis and relapse plans and find out exactly how they’d like to be treated. Essentially it’s a two-way street, and we place a great deal of importance on working with individuals to find the best path.