Bipolar Delusions and Paranoid Thoughts
While some delusional thoughts can feel wonderful and enhancing, others can be detrimental.
Not only was I taking risks, but I was also feeling as though people were against me or talking about me. I was convinced at times that everyone was discussing my life and I was isolating myself from my family because of it.
I remember having to organize the return of my company car from the hospital and only liaised with my uncle and aunt. I told them to keep the seemingly unimportant issue top secret, making them promise they wouldn’t tell a soul.
Unfortunately, my aunt told someone else, who then contacted me in hospital. I freaked out, cried, self-harmed and became completely paranoid.
My psychiatrist had to recommend phone calls be vetted to make sure they didn’t upset me. This period was really hard; I had never felt so alone and misunderstood, with no control over what people were thinking and saying about me.
What Helped Me?
Throughout my first manic outbreak, where I experienced psychosis and delusional thoughts, very little helped me. I was uneducated with no insight and every friend and a family member was learning alongside me.
I have now learned that with the proper treatment, experience and practice, symptoms can certainly be relieved.
Therapy Does Work!
In my first hospital admittance, I was on a trial-and-error program with mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics, and it took four months to slow down my rapid cycling and treat the mania and psychosis.
While medication is crucial in a crisis, therapy and support are just as effective in different ways.
The first thing I learned in hospital, is that you need to be surrounded by professionals and a support network that understands. If you trust someone, you can tell them you are experiencing strange thoughts and you doubt yourself and your reality.
My family and friends have been on a steep learning curve, but now know they need to listen, be kind and empathetic, help to distract me or maybe double-check I’ve taken my medication as well as signpost me to my community psychiatric nurse, therapist or psychiatrist.
From my years of therapy, I know there is a lot I can do for myself. I can keep a diary and write down any thoughts or feelings I’m having, which I can then check with a doctor or psychiatrist if I’m concerned.
I can also be honest and tell friends and family my thoughts and allow them to rationalize what is reality and what may be an altered perception.
I know I need to do my deep breathing when I have anxiety that people are talking about me, and challenge myself with questions, such as have I actually done anything wrong or could that person’s facial expression be because they are having a bad day and nothing to do with me?
As much as I can learn and help myself, there are times, particularly in mania, where we lose complete insight. It is therefore important we have plans in place with trusted people around us.
I have sat down and told my family what to watch out for symptom-wise when I become ill. My community nurse has a written plan of the things I think and act when my mood is changing. They play a part in managing my state when I become psychotic or delusional.
I will say one thing. Apart from my first manic episode when I was undiagnosed, I have only experienced psychosis and delusional thoughts when I have had medication altered.
It is very rare for me and I take solace that in managing my condition with medication, a good support network, balanced diet, exercise, therapy and doing things I enjoy, the chances of any significant mood changes, which can trigger psychosis and delusional thoughts, are radically reduced.