Psychosis/Psychotic Experiences

Psychosis/Psychotic Experiences

Psychosis (also called a 'psychotic experience' or 'psychotic episode') is when you perceive or interpret reality in a very different way from people around you. You might be said to 'lose touch' with reality.

Psychosis is not a condition itself, but a set of symptoms. People experiencing these symptoms will often be unaware they are thinking or acting differently. There are two main symptoms people having a psychotic episode may experience. Hallucinations, which could include hearing voices or seeing things others don’t, and delusions, believing things that are not rational. People who are experiencing psychosis do not feel that they are hallucinating at the time.

Although psychosis is often triggered by other mental health conditions, a psychotic episode can happen to anyone.

Experiences of Psychosis

  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing things that others can’t.
  • Seeing things that are not actually there.
  • Smelling things that others can’t.
  • Tasting things that aren’t there.
  • Delusions
  • Believing that people are trying to harm you.
  • Believing you’re being spied on.
  • Delusions of grandeur, such as being rich and powerful or having powers that others don’t.
  • Disorganised Thinking and Speech
  • Speaking very quickly.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Finding it difficult to focus on one thing or idea.

Personal Story

When she was in her twenties Tina experienced psychosis.

Tina said: “I was in my early twenties. I did not know what was happening to me. Life was perfect, I was happy. I started getting bad feelings in my head all the time. Everywhere I went the lights were all too bright, I started to hear words in my head and I couldn’t eat.”

One night, while at her sisters flat Tina felt like she had to throw herself out the window, something was telling her to do it. She managed to stop herself and drive to Dundee’s psychiatric hospital, Liff Hospital.

At the hospital, Tina was given medication, which allowed her to sleep for a few days. As she began to recover, the doctors told her, the episode had been brought on by unresolved childhood trauma.

Tina said: “I was lucky, I knew how to get help, but I can understand why it can go wrong for other people. It came from nowhere, it was like a bullet out of the blue, and it was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced.”

For a long time she did not want anyone to know about her illnesses, she was “ashamed” and “scared” to tell anyone for years

Tina stigmatised herself, worrying about what people would think about her if they knew they truth.

She was worried that people would call her a “psycho” and think she was violent. She hid who she was to avoid being judged.

Tina also held back from having many close friends, as she was scared about people finding out.

She said: “I didn’t tell anyone about my times with mental issues for years because I saw the reaction some people had towards mental health problems so I felt I couldn’t be honest.

“Generally I have been lucky when I have spoken out, but that wasn’t always the case. I had a negative experience. I told a friend about my mental health problems and she told me that she thought I would be an unsafe person to be around. It was a very naive thing to say. It left me devastated. It made me question if I should ever tell anyone else. It put me off telling people as I assumed her opinion was shared by everyone else. But that wasn’t the case.”

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