Psychosis is like how I imagine a floatation tank to be; sensory deprivation and then every sense working overdrive, stimulated by the tiniest of noise or sensation, dragging the stuff of nightmares out of the darkest depths of the soul. Generally the dark shit isn’t part of the floatation tank experience, I’m guessing; but it’s the idea that suddenly so much can come from nothing and you lose control of everything that grounds you to reality.
I’ve experienced psychosis before but I self-medicated with an incredible amount of drugs and alcohol – this in my mind at the time in no way exacerbated that experience… In my last episode I longed for the deadening sedation of GHB. It’s an interesting choice of drug, usually used for date raping but I knocked that shit back like it was the greatest libation of every occasion.
GHB is pretty dangerous shit, particularly if its not mixed properly. When I used to get it it’d come in old E45 cream tubs with the labels taken off. It came like wallpaper paste and was to be diluted with water… I kept all the miniature bottles I could find, including Zoflora floor cleaner. GHB took the edge off the psychosis, with its euphoria and fuzziness and then the sedation. It made all experiences bearable. Problem is, it can kill you and is particularly deadly with alcohol. When talking to our old SHO about drugs and my experiences, he was genuinely surprised I wasn’t dead. Considering the amount I used to drink and the other drugs I frequently ingested, it seemed I’d been trying to overdose on the wrong stuff all along. I was another pint, line or drop away from doing myself in anyway.
This time I opted for the prescription route. Lorazepam and zopiclone are useful but didn’t sate the urges to kill myself after the voices have battered me for a while. They didn’t stop the flash backs or hallucinations of weird shit. They made me tired and cranky. Flupenthixol defied me to ever enjoy sex again and although it masked the voices, being so heavily sedated I was sleeping 18 hours a day didn’t feel like living anymore. I stopped taking flupenthixol a week after I was discharged and experienced unbearable insomnia.
Psychosis for me has been dark and desperate; its like my mind gets sucked into this cavernous place where the voices echo and dance off the walls. Sometimes it feels like the cavern is the back of my head at the base of my neck and it feels like the most giant space and almost like I’m standing in it. Standing inside my own head. That sounds batshit, doesn’t it.
Most frighteningly is when the world around me becomes sucked inside that cavern. Everything I see or touch is trapped in there with them, I feel their breath and touch. And what’s worse is that the last occasion the voice that was trying to destroy me was someone I love.
I started experiencing symptoms around 2 weeks after stopping the flupenthixol; the whispers and the shadows started but I’d gone back to work and was determined to be fine. I was stupid and ignored every piece of advice I’ve ever given to clients about self-care. I wanted so desperately to go back to work and go back to having a normal life I ignored every early warning sign and denied every opportunity for help until it was too late.
After the first admission I took 6 weeks off work and went back into delivering training, doing my peer support role and going to some meetings with commissioners all in the space of a week. By my second week back at work I was tired and not doing so great. I couldn’t concentrate and felt disconnected from my colleagues and myself. A student nurse who was on placement with the team kept banging on about his dissertation and repeatedly asked me about mine; I freaked the fuck out and shut down.
I don’t remember much of what happened because of the dissociation but my manager resorted to taking me to my CMHT to be medically reviewed and I was put on home treatment. I hate this blurring of boundaries. Although my manager was incredibly supportive to have him momentarily involved in my care felt like a violation. He picked my partner up from the station, he spoke to my consultant and CPN, he advised I needed home treatment. I fucking hated it and I sat there unable to say anything.
When waiting for Simon to come and get me because no one would let me drive I went missing. I’d gone outside the CMHT building to vape and ended up in a park; I have no idea or recollection of how I got there or why. Simon and my CPN found me eventually. Home treatment came and assessed me; a psychiatrist that I’d delivered training to decided I needed admission after I’d spent the previous evening trying to obey the voice I heard. If I were to object then they’d do a Mental Health Act assessment. I did not want to go back to hospital.
The voice of my best friend repeatedly told me to kill myself and was explicit in how I should do it. I checked all the rooms and cupboards in the house trying to find him. And this might seem stupid but he is known to hide around my house and jump out at me. I didn’t find him. I was told he wasn’t there. At first I couldn’t understand why he was saying these things, what had I done that was so wrong? In the end I was too battered by it to contest. I did as he asked. I tried to throw myself out of the top floor window of my 3 storey house on several occasions only to be pulled back by Simon, I cut, I tried to tie ligatures, I tried to find tablets to take an overdose, I tried to get out of the house to hang myself from the swings in the playground opposite.
I obeyed everything he said and each failed attempt only made it more angry and venomous. He ripped into me about my dad and that I’m undeserving of love, how I’m useless and I’ll never do anything of any worth with my life. I just wanted to die. I wanted it to be over.
On the way to the hospital I tried to jump out of the car. I didn’t want to go back there and I couldn’t understand why I was being punished. In the hospital car park I wrestled with Simon and tried to run away until 3 ward staff came out and threatened to call an AMHP and have me sectioned. I was coerced in and left to wait for a medic to clerk me in.
Once I was shown to my dorm I tried to use a chest of drawers to smash the window grill off – this put me on level 3 obs. And made pissing the most degrading experience. Hospital was worse than before. I stayed in bed, I didn’t shower or speak to anyone, I took my meds and skipped meals to sleep. I have never felt so tired. After 5 days I was allowed home leave after demanding to be let out – this resulted in an out of hours medic reviewing me, telling me I was fast becoming a revolving door patient and that my self harm was counterproductive because it only makes them do more regular checks, not leave me alone. In fact even after being discharged I still spend my days doing nothing other than sleeping. I don’t feel human.
The haloperidol prescribed has made me so numb I feel like I’ve lost all sense of self and for someone with a pretty shaky grasp of what that is, it’s a fucking nightmare. I don’t know what I like any more or what I want to do. The things that used to bring solace such as talking to my friend now only brings pretty shitty flash backs of the things I heard said.
I’m losing days, I don’t want to be around people but fear being alone, I don’t have the energy to get out of bed and I’m depressed. I want to stop taking the haloperidol but Simon won’t let me. I feel like I’m trapped in this fucking house and cant get out of it. I’ve got nowhere to go to. I may as well still be in hospital.
But at least the voices have stopped, right?