- The AtoZ of me – Blogging from AtoZ2023
- A for all that – an evolving list of my post
- A is for All together now…
- B is for Blogging #mondayblogs #atozchallenge
- C is for Cats
- P is for Psychosis #realmentalhealth #mondayblogs #nomorestigma
- C is for C-PTSD
- D is for ‘dont call me that’ – aka Donna #Mondayblogs
- E is for Edinburgh
- F is for Fun…
This is one of my harder blog posts to write, because though I talk – a lot – about the impact my mental health has on my day to day life, and has done for a while, I’m pretty sure that this is the bit no one really understands, causes the most…misunderstanding and I hope, because I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, they can’t relate to. If you didn’t know that psychosis was a feature of my mental health diagnosis, or didn’t understand if you’d heard it mentioned before now, please…don’t start changing your opinion of me. That’s the biggest reason those of us with serious mental health issues aren’t as open as society needs. Because we lose people.
It was so hard to write in fact, that I didn’t, for a day. So, you’re not imagining it, this post went up a day late.
Sensitive child, with imaginary friends
I wish I could say that I know things would have been different now versus 30+ years ago, when I was growing up, but I’ll add this disclaimer to the beginning of the post. Currently, the mental health crisis, and in fact, the whole NHS service crisis, caused by politicians, is going to result in more young people growing up in various states like I did. My family did their best, and a lot of what I now know to be ‘just not right’ was ascribed to me being a sensitive, empathic child with a high intelligence. While I’m not saying that’s not true, I do feel that the fact that I wasn’t caught as autistic, or having issues with sensory processing, or possibly even ADHD as a child and teen says a lot about how the school system is ill-equipped, in a standard setting, to recognise that intelligence and mental health ‘quirks’ don’t always go hand in hand. I have a very high IQ, but, here I am, at 44, and I basically live a life that is safe for me thanks to my partner. I’m not saying it’s not because I can’t work, because I can and I do, but…I’ve had to build a job around my health, and right now, I’m at a bottleneck and don’t like it.
I grew up on a ‘working class’ estate (in quotes, cause I hate the terminology) in Edinburgh. By the time I sat my Highers, I was really struggling with my mental health, and it was basically ignored by the school. Hindsight being what it is, I was already becoming isolated and a bit insular, but I wasn’t the most popular girl in school, and was in fact bullied for most of my life, and…along with other incidents, the things I took comfort in – everything in my imagination – began to twist.
I’ve always seen and heard things. Always. But as an adult, those things became more violent, and more inward aimed.
I’ve addressed this a few times on Facebook, but…I hear and see one specific person. When I’m having a really bad day, she can distract me enough that she can convince me the house is on fire, or that people are coming for me with knives. But even on my ‘good’ or ‘neutral’ days, she’s there. She’s shouting at me now, for writing this, reminding me that I’m in a house on my own and that I’m on the top floor, and anything could happen. She…she’s always been there. Always. Whether she’s a manifestation of the things I think about myself, or something else is pretty much up for debate, but…I’ve never known a time that I can’t hear and see her. I’ve tried antipsychotics, and they don’t get rid of her, they just dull down the constant anxiety I live with (and hadn’t actually realised wasn’t supposed to be there until I asked after a trial on meds), so I find it easier to maintain a facade of not listening, and not reacting.
It’s hardest in situations where I’m either not in control, or there’s a lot of noise – especially loud noise – and motion around me. Which is why, I think, even my GP is surprised that I like LudoSport so much. And I’ve noticed that my best days are when I’m focussed on Petrichor (other post today, she’s my blade), and just doing what I’m told, rather than trying to keep track of everything and everyone. My BEST days are when I can wall her off for a bit, and do the things I love without fear. Tempus, my other half, supports me in finding those slots, but those days really are few and far between.
The best I can do to manage ‘her’ is to remember mindfulness, breathe, and try to ground myself.
No one knows unless I tell them – or they see me react
I think the most surprising thing about having any type of psychosis, even though it makes perfect sense if you think about it logically, is unless you tell someone, they don’t know. But… I’m going to explain why it’s surprising from, well from my point of view. Maybe others that live with similar (and again, I hope you don’t, it’s horrible, wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy) will agree, but if you live with psychosis for long enough, it’s normal to think that it’s real. If you’re so used to it being real, it’s…surprising that no one realises that you’re reacting to that, not something else. So, I understand why people are surprised when I talk about psychosis in such…steady and measured terms, but I still marvel at the idea that I’m the only one that actually sees her. That no one knows unless I let on.
And that’s the biggest issue with psychosis, after the physical and mental effect it has on those of us with it.
I bet, if you didn’t know about what I deal with, you see me a little differently now. And that’s ok – we always change how we see, and feel and think of people. But…I know that people will always wonder if I’m so unstable that I’ll hurt them – or others. Because that’s how people with a psychosis are portrayed. Whether it’s a component of schizophrenia and those cluster of diseases, or standalone, like mine (well, not really, I have CPTSD, Anxiety and other issues), I know that people see me as the media portrays psychosis.
It’s why I wrote run girl run. That’s a shared ‘R’ on Friday, because that’s my big news this year.
Like any other mental health issue though, instead of believing what pop culture portrays, think about me when you hear ‘psychosis’. If you didn’t know about it before this post, think about what you thought of me back then – I’m sure ‘funny’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘caring’ featured in there somewhere. That’s far more important than my mental health issues, because I still am. It’s important – and stigma breaking – to remember that label just means that I need extra help sometimes, that I’ve got an underlying reason for being a bit nervous of certain things, and that I’m no different from the Kai you knew going into this post.
Kai is a writer, author and avid reader. A mental health advocate, Ludosport athlete and coder. She’s the mother of two young adults, owned by two cats, and lives with her beloved in the Cotswolds.