Bipolar · mental health · stigma

Delusions, Stigma, and Shame

Even though people are starting to be more open about mental illness these days, there is still a lot of stigma attached to Bipolar Disorder. Next to Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder is considered one of the worst mental illnesses to have. People with Bipolar 1 (which I have) can have symptoms of psychosis along with delusions during full-blown mania, which can get confused with Schizophrenia. It’s happened to me.

I had feelings of shame because several people had stopped being my friend during my last manic episode. I could fill a whole book with my delusions, but what it boils down to is this: I strongly believed that I was cursed. Along with that, I was convinced that I had a psychic connection with a distant acquaintance. I was obsessed with them. I was fixated on these delusions. I couldn’t stop talking about it with my friends. These obsessions overtook my mind, to the point that I was no longer able to function or take care of myself. It took me a very long time to accept the reality that this person barely knew who I was, and didn’t want to know me. People called me a stalker. I felt humiliated to be thought of that way. I felt like a social pariah. Some of my friends blocked me on Facebook, and ghosted me when I texted or called them.

To be honest, it took me years to accept reality. My delusions had persisted for years. That’s another thing I’m ashamed and embarrassed about, the length of time and the amount of energy that was devoted to my delusions. Although reality was painful to accept, I no longer spend all my time and energy obsessing over my delusions anymore. I realize the ideas were false, and I have stopped feeding into it. It was a toxic cycle that I had to break. But it wasn’t easy for me. The reason it took so long, is because there were times that I did accept reality and then, the delusion came back. There were times when I was not convinced that it was entirely a delusion. There were times when I hovered between delusion and reality.

I wish that more people would be comfortable enough to talk about delusions and psychosis as a result of mania. I haven’t seen much information on the topic. It can be humiliating and painful to realize that the things that were so real to you, have no basis in reality. I felt that I couldn’t even talk about this subject, because I was so embarrassed and ashamed. Maybe that’s why I don’t find many other people talking about it.

I am grateful to have a really good psychotherapist now, who has helped me realize that these symptoms I have had have a physiological basis. It is the result of neurological changes that developed when I wasn’t taking medication. Talking with her helped me to realize this, and to feel less ashamed. I have been taking my medication regularly, and have currently achieved mental stability. At the moment, people in my life don’t think I’m crazy. But I know that if I were to cease medication, these symptoms could come back.

If this post could help one person who has experienced these symptoms feel less alone, I would be happy about it. Have you ever had a delusion? Do you feel comfortable talking about it? If so, please leave a comment or use the contact page!

Bipolar · mental health


I’m starting this blog to document my ups and downs with Bipolar 1 disorder. I think writing about it anonymously will be therapeutic for me. I’m currently trying to put my life back together from the big manic episode I had last year, but it’s still challenging. Last year’s episode lasted about 6 months, followed by a severe depression that was just as long. It had been over a decade since I have had a manic episode like that. I thought I was done having them. I felt like it wasn’t really my fault.

I wasn’t on medication for several months before the episode. The reason I wasn’t taking bipolar medication was not because I just decided not to take it; my psychiatrist at the time took me off it because she said I wasn’t bipolar. I was just following doctor’s orders! She thought I had been misdiagnosed before I met her. I remember having big manic episodes in the past, and asked if she had ever gotten my notes from previous doctors, and she said she could only go off of what she had seen. I think she was just lazy. She only saw me for about 15 minutes at a time, about four times a year. I really don’t think that’s enough time to really get to know me. I had seen her for over a decade and had actually become quite stable on the medication that I had been taking up until then. That’s probably why I didn’t seem to be bipolar, because the medication was working!

I could have gotten a second opinion, I guess, but I wanted to believe that I wasn’t bipolar. I argued with her at first, but gave in because of the stigma associated with bipolar disorder. I wanted to be free of that stigma. I didn’t want to be thought of as a person with a mental illness.

My psychiatrist said I wasn’t bipolar but only had depression. So when she took me off bipolar mood stabilizers, she put me on Prozac (or the generic form, fluoxetine) alone. However, it is well-known in the psychiatric world that SSRIs like Prozac can cause mania in bipolar patients when taken without other medications. I kinda think she is stupid, and not very good at her job.

That was the first thing that set the stage for mania. There were a bunch of other triggers in my personal life that contributed to the manic episode. I was putting in a lot of hours at a workplace that was stressful and toxic, where I felt unappreciated. I dreaded going there every day. My family relationships became very strained. I ran into someone from my past who assaulted me and triggered a bad manic episode many years ago. I thought I would be able to see him again and it wouldn’t be a big deal because that had been so long ago and I was over it, but I was wrong. And finally, I broke up with my boyfriend of 10 years during this time.

I ended up quitting that job. I ended up going to the hospital a few times. I ended up freaking out on some people. I’m embarrassed about that and I hope they can understand that I wasn’t well at the time. I don’t know if there’s anything I can do about that. I lost a few friends due to my manic episode, but afterwards, I gained some better ones. It took some time, therapy, and a med change but I’ve come along way since last year.