John talked in his last post about the beginnings of psychosis for him, and the trauma that predated it. It has me thinking about the first time I became manic and psychotic. It also has me thinking about the similarities between psychosis and the dream state. But I need to go back a bit.
My first contact with psychiatry was frustrating and difficult. I had no language for what I was experiencing, and no confidence to express myself. I was diagnosed with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, in spite of at least trying to express that I thought I was bipolar. If the consultant didn’t appear to be listening, neither was I managing to express myself in any open way. The crucial conversation went like this:
Me: ‘I think I might be bipolar’
Consultant: ‘Well have you ever had a manic episode before?’
Consultant: ‘Well then…‘
After a few months of getting established on an anti-depressant I was discharged back to the care of my General Practitioner. I was still working in Accident and Emergency at this point, but starting to flounder.
2 months after being discharged from psychiatry my father killed himself. I don’t want to talk much about this just now, but neither do I want to gloss over the enormity of what happened. This is a topic for a later date. But my boss at work recognised the scale of the situation I was facing and encouraged me to get back in contact with the consultant psychiatrist. But when I saw him next I just kept the lid on tight and told him that I was coping well with what had happened. His response was to start me on a second anti-depressant. As all people with bipolar know, anti-depressants can be problematic, as they can drive you high. My consultant was giving me increasing doses of anti-depressant, and that and the death of my father were priming the pressure cooker. The less I slept the more the consultant increased my dose of anti-depressants. By the end of the year I was rapid cycling – 5 weeks up, 5 weeks down – metronomic. Just being hurled around by my state of mind. I was barely sleeping and dangerously ragged.