Bipolar Delusions and Delusional Thoughts (as a Result of Psychosis or Otherwise)
A delusional thought is symptomatic of a psychotic state, which is when you have an altered perception of reality.
Most bipolar delusions are grandiose, involving exaggerated feelings of power, wealth, sexual attractiveness, luck or insight. Many of these thoughts have religious connotations and beliefs about God.
Delusional thoughts can be very dangerous and may lead to reckless behavior, including overspending or hypersexuality.
Who Can Experience Bipolar Delusions?
Bipolar psychosis, and subsequent delusional thoughts, is usually a feature of severe mania in bipolar type 1 — it can also be associated with bipolar depression, but this is less common.
Studies have shown that approximately two-thirds of bipolar patients will experience at least one psychotic symptom over a lifetime.
When Did I First Experience Bipolar Delusions?
I vividly remember experiencing bipolar psychosis for the first time in 2008. However, I had no knowledge or education about mental health, so I had no idea what was happening to me at the time. It was absolutely petrifying.
The first time was hearing a man’s voice coming from inside the bedroom where I was sleeping, telling me he was coming to get me. His voice was low and threatening.
I ran into my friend’s bedroom, but when she woke I refused to tell her what I had heard. I knew there was no man in my bedroom, but I could hear a man’s voice.
I thought I had gone completely mad. After the second time, I was inconsolable and told my friend to call an emergency helpline, which told me sleep and food deprivation may be the cause.
‘I Was Convinced I’d Lost My Mind’
My delusional beliefs came on slowly and were impossible to rationalize as clearly as recognizing there was no man in the room. I remember making my mum take me to an emergency clinic because I was convinced I’d lost my mind and needed serious help.
I sat with her and started talking about the family tree and how everyone interconnected. I believed I had a clear understanding of why every one of us behaved the way we did and how we forged relationships with each other.
I talked endlessly about my findings to my mum; looking back, she must have been very concerned. At this point I was undiagnosed and starting to behave irrationally.
I was over-exercising, being creative, irritable, suicidal, high, low, every which way you could imagine. I learnt at a later date I was rapid cycling with undiagnosed bipolar.
As time went on, my thoughts became grander. I was looking at life as this big wondrous place that I could understand implicitly.
I felt as though life was like a chessboard and every person was merely a piece being moved around by God. I believed I understood deeply what was happening and therefore had a unique relationship with God.
At the same time, I believed I was invincible and could jump across busy roads. I was also shoplifting.
I don’t remember telling anyone about my relationship with God because it felt so special and personal that it wasn’t information to share with others. In my eyes, they didn’t understand like me and they wouldn’t get it.
I’m not even sure I told my psychiatrist in-depth about how I felt. I just explained that everything felt worldly, big and I was having ‘special’ thoughts.
After diagnosis, I was admitted into a psychiatric hospital, and in the throes of mania, other things were happening to me.
I spent days scouring fashion magazines and carefully constructing outfits that I used to parade around the wards confidently. I stopped wearing underwear and felt above everybody else.
It was another string to the bow of feeling invincible. Nothing felt like it could touch me.
Next page: Fliss shares what helped her when experiencing bipolar delusions.