Sometimes when I go for therapy it feels like I’m giving over control to my therapist and I leave sessions feeling extremely needy (e.g. I start counting down days till the next time I see her so she can challenge and calm my multiplying irrational thoughts and impulses back down again).
a. Have you had experiences with psychosis and what helped you to cope with them?
I don’t have hallucinations, but the part on talking ‘politely’ to and asking the voices for ‘permission’ really moved something deep in me. Sometimes when I’m stuck in a thought loop, I feel so so inexplicably forced towards compulsively following them down their winding path of destruction. Usually, I’m led to believe that I’ve to do everything such compulsions demand of me before I can even start to contemplate being allowed to go free. For me, this could involve escalating my methods of self-harm, engaging in reckless behaviour, and sabotaging intimate relationships and/or professional help.
As is the nature of many of such shame-based symptoms, I’m not ‘allowed’ by these inner demons to talk about them with others, either. They are often shrouded in guilt, secrecy and denial. I hate asking for help, or telling someone that I need them to be with me for a moment, and would much rather try to ‘tough it out’ by myself. That way I won’t be a failure to others whether I eventually give in to my impulses or not. But if anything, I’ve come to realise on some level that it is better to share the mess that is your life and your mental condition with others you trust, than to lock it all up in the deep recesses of your heart and mind for fear of disappointing or ‘hurting’ other people.
b. Where and how do you experience power and control over your mental illness/symptoms?
Until Dr Vardi stepped in, with Jonah it was always a crazy battle between his own ego strength and the voices. Sometimes when I go for therapy it feels like I’m giving over control to my therapist and I leave sessions feeling extremely needy (e.g. I start counting down days till the next time I see her so she can challenge and calm my multiplying irrational thoughts and impulses back down again). For obvious reasons, the dependency actually scares me as much as if I were fighting for control over my symptoms alone. Although it may not be in itself a bad thing.
Sometimes the more you struggle, the quicker you exhaust your internal resources. It’s akin to being caught in a quicksand, really. Like Jonah, I do try to take a few steps back to acknowledge that this is ‘crazy’ me speaking and that while she is indeed a huge pain in the ass, she may also have her own unmet needs – to be respected, acknowledged and then set boundaries upon. However, despite distancing myself from some of these thoughts, I admit that I still do struggle fiercely with trying not to full out destroy them, or, on the other extreme just surrendering out of utter shame and defeat. I don’t suppose it’s a skill you can master in a day or two.
P.S. While Jonah suffers from Schizophrenia, my discussion does not center on the mental illness specifically as I have never dealt with the condition personally. Instead, the abstract is intended to create conversation on how we cope and perceive of our own inner demons, rather than to prescribe/treat episodes of psychosis specifically. However, comments on psychosis or auditory/visual hallucinations that would raise awareness in the community of one’s own experiences are highly welcomed! For formal help with such episodes, do also consider visiting the web page https://www.imh.com.sg/education/page.aspx?id=660#EPIP.