When Mania Becomes Psychosis
I think of my Bipolar as being an evil entity that lies dormant inside my body, waiting for an opportunity to take over my entire being. Almost like a demon possession.
When I am at the height of stability (remembering to take my Lithium and practice mindfulness and use my coping skills) the “demon” is stifled and held a
captive prisoner, unable to attack. But there are times (when I am triggered by an event or I forget to take my medication for more than a couple days) that the “demon” takes the opportunity to break away from its chains and starts to make its way into my mind, filling it with intrusive thoughts.
These thoughts start out as warnings that the people around me are out to hurt me – the person who is closest to me (my spouse) wants to destroy me and has a hidden agenda, the person in line in front of me at the grocery store really needs to be punched in the face, etc…
I become irritable, I drive people away from me, and I cause those around me to be concerned. According to my doctor, the irritability is how mania often manifests itself in older adults, whereas in a younger person, mania manifests itself mostly in the form of causing the person to be hyper, behave with sexual promiscuity and go on spending sprees.
This is a critical point with Bipolar, and a crossroads that will determine what comes next. If I decide to just wait it out, hoping it will fix itself, continue to only take my medication sporadically, and put off calling my doctor, then the “demon” will take a stronger hold. Once the Bipolar “demon” starts to take a stronger hold on my mind, I become irrational and unapproachable. If anyone tries to suggest to me that I might benefit from seeing a doctor or taking medication, I become infuriated and believe that the person is out to get me and wants to destroy who I am.
Then the Bipolar “demon” becomes stronger and stronger. During this time, the real me is still inside, being squished down and stifled by the “demon”. But the real me is there and quietly begging for help. Begging for someone to notice that I am still in there. Praying that the people I am driving away will, instead, stay with me, and find a way to save me from the “demon”.
Looking back on these times, I now realize that I would prefer my spouse to drag me kicking and screaming into the hospital rather than to experience what comes next. Because what comes after this point in mania is what I refer to as the point-of-no-return.
This is the point where I completely and irrevocably destroy everyone and everything I love. This is also the point that I have no memory of. My mind is gone, the “demon” has completely taken over, and what comes next is total blackness to me.
But to my family and loved ones, I am a wrecking ball, destroying everything in its path. I will wake up from this psychosis at some point, but when I do, I will have lost everyone and have no memory of why. And then the sadness comes. And I am alone.
The only way to stop this madness is to stay one step ahead of the Bipolar. The only way to stay one step ahead of the Bipolar is through medication management, check-ins with a trusted health care provider, open communication with family, mindfulness, and most of all BY BEING WILLING TO LET SOMEONE HELP YOU.
When I was pushing my husband away, it was the “demon” not me. When I was pushing my family and friends away, it was the “demon” and not me. I was still there, stuffed inside, begging for help. But nobody could hear me because the “demon” was too loud, trying to scare everyone away.
If I could give advice to someone struggling with Bipolar right now, I would say to let someone help you now because it will only get worse later. Your future self will thank you for accepting the help.
And if I were to give advice to someone who is watching their loved one struggle with Bipolar, I would say “keep on trying, at all cost, to help them.” Because they are still there, somewhere trapped in their mind, and they are begging you to save them.