Are you listening?
We have all heard the saying, “mind over matter” and we know it basically means that if we put our mind to something, we can do it.
This is often true because sometimes we can perceive things to be a bigger challenge than they actually are, and if we put our mind to it, we can overcome the obstacle, but what happens when “mind over matter” is literal, like in the event of psychosis?
The clinical definition of psychosis is…
Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality that usually includes:
- False beliefs about what is taking place or who one is (delusions)
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
In other words, those experiencing psychosis are experiencing the literal sense of the term, “mind over matter”.
Someone having a psychotic episode is having a break with reality and their minds are telling them that what they are experiencing is reality. There is little, if anything, anyone can do or say to convince someone who is psychotic, that they are wrong.
Let the Battle Begin
If you have ever had an episode of psychosis then you know what it’s like coming out of it.
In fact, even after real reality is firmly reinstated, the lingering doubts and feelings — left by way of whatever threads of memory you may have from the psychotic break, are left to still tug at your psyche.
How do we process what has occurred if we have no memory of a psychotic event?
How do we process to get better if others are deluding us because they are deluding themselves about what is really going on with us?
1. Rely on other people’s memory of the event…
2. Shrug it off, it’s over, you can’t change it…
3. What event? You people are crazy, not me…
None of the three choices above are exactly appealing; sadly only one option has the power to potentially help us.
What other people experience with us when we enter psychosis is valid. However, is their recollection; is their accounting of the events honest, unbiased and shared with us in kindness out of genuine concern for our welfare? Or, is it being thrown at us and used as a weapon?
According to Steve Hyman, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH),
“Mental illnesses are brain diseases. Based on biomedical research, there is absolutely no justification for separating out mental disorders from other serious brain disorders. They are brain diseases just as a stroke or a brain tumor is a brain disease.”
The reality is most people have little knowledge about bipolar, let alone actual psychosis.
Judgements and labels do little to help and instead cause us great harm because we are not being treated fairly.
We are not being treated by the medical community — nor by our friends and family, with compassion and the understanding that we have a real disease and we are not just “crazy” people.
We may have done something that was or seemed “crazy”, but it is not who we are and for the most part, it is out of our control. As I have pointed out before, madness has no expiration date nor does it usually have a memory.
So, why are we being treated this way? Why does the stigma stick?
When will ignorance no longer be acceptable in our society so that those of us who need help can get real help for the disease itself and not just be prescribed a plethora of pills to cover up or manipulate our symptoms?
When will society get to a healthy point of being able to talk about this intelligently without the labels, stigma and harsh judgements?
When, if ever, will bipolar people be allowed to really live?