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LEARNING ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

My last two blogs dealt with my mental health issues. I received many encouraging comments, notes, and emails because I put myself out there. For the rest of July, my blogs will focus on mental health. If you missed any of my blogs, please check my website at www.sunflowers4life.com.


After posting a blog about my psychotic episode, people asked questions. I am more than willing to answer anything I can about my journey. I am blogging about my experience and what I learned working in a mental health facility for 12 years.


My diagnosis is bipolar 1 with psychosis. Bipolar 1 disorder is defined by manic episodes that last for at least 7 days (nearly every day for most of the day) or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate medical care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. (Unlike many with bipolar 1, I experience more depression than mania. I have been told that I am diagnosed with Bipolar 1 because of my psychosis.)


The terms "mania" and "manic episode" describe a state of mind characterized by high energy, excitement, and euphoria over a sustained period of time. It's an extreme change in mood and cognition that can interfere with school, work, or home life. Mania is also the main feature of bipolar disorder.


The terms "depressive temperament," "depressive personality," and "depressive personality disorder" have been used interchangeably in the literature to refer to the following traits: introversion, passivity, and nonassertiveness; gloominess, cheerlessness, and joylessness. Often the person experiencing a depressive episode will isolate and, when severe, can become suicidal. (Suicide is a concern in both depression and mania.)


"Psychosis," "psychotic experience," or "psychotic episode," is when a person perceives or interprets reality in a very different way from others. A person might be said to "lose touch" with reality.


For some, psychosis is a new word. The following are some symptoms of psychosis.

· Hallucinations

o Visual – See things that others don't.

o Sensory – taste and smell things that are not real (can affect all 5 senses)

o Auditory – Hear voices or noise.

· Delusions – Beliefs others don't share.


· Disorganized thinking - Mental health professionals may use the following terms to describe what you are experiencing:

o Racing thoughts is when your thoughts go through your head very fast. It can involve them racing so fast that they feel out of control.

A flight of ideas is where your thoughts move very quickly from idea to idea, making links and seeing meaning between things that others don't.


Many people find that they experience racing thoughts and a flight of ideas at the same time. A person with disorganized thinking might:

· Speak very quickly and stumble over their words so that others may find it difficult to understand them.

· Link words together because of the way they sound rather than what they mean, which can make your speech sound jumbled to other people (this is sometimes called word salad)

· Change the topic of conversation very quickly as their thoughts move from one thing to another.

· Find it difficult to keep their attention on one thing.


My journey with psychosis has mostly included Hallucinations, visual and auditory, and disorganized thinking, and even though the above does not cover paranoia, I experienced it during this episode.


Everyone's experience with Bipolar and psychosis is different. I am high functioning, so I deal with the symptoms well. This last bout was the worst that I have experienced in a while.

Mental illness is a chemical imbalance that can be treated with medication. When taking medicines as prescribed, many can live a "normal" life. However, many struggle and do NOT like how drugs make us feel. Sometime in July, I will blog on medications.

I have shared this episode with my friends; they have been very accepting. I have struggled with my illness throughout the years, and when I have had a noticeable episode, I have not always been accepted. Many fear mental illness.


How does a person with a mental illness want to be treated?

· We do not want to be judged. When we share our diagnosis or display some symptoms of the illness, many feel we are crazy and stay away from us.

· We want to be understood. Ask questions.

· Allow us to share our ups and downs as well as psychotic symptoms.

· Don't be condescending when talking with us. Don't treat us like children.

· Help us trust you so we have someone to talk to when needed.


The above applies to those that are comfortable with their illness. Some people don't want anyone to know, so they will not share. Allow the person to handle things in their own way unless they threaten themselves or others.


Each person's needs differ; I wrote the How we want to be treated section based on my needs and those of my friends struggling with mental illness.


Thank you for reading this blog. My prayer is that it educated you on an important topic. I appreciate those of you who are in my support system.


If you have any questions, please comment or private message me.


Have a great week.


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