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!


Sorry It’s Been So Long – Life Update

I know it’s been more than four years since my last post. I guess I got busy with work for a while and totally forgot about this blog. I wasn’t monitoring the email for the blog, so I apologize for not having responded to messages. I will try to get back to people after I make some blog updates. I’m overwhelmed by the responses I’ve gotten!

What have I been up to? I had been working a lot. For a while, I was putting in a lot of overtime, and didn’t have the energy or the time to update the blog. And like I said, I totally forgot it about it for quite some time. But I’m back! At least, for now. I’m planning to write more, now that I remembered.

Right now, I’m not currently working. I left my job in August to further my education. I was trying to do both working full time and going to school for awhile. But my job was very toxic and the new manager was trying to fire me, so I left on my own accord. Because my focus is currently on my education, and that job was holding me back. I worked at that job for two years. I want to stay anonymous, so I’m not going to go into detail about what my last job was. But I will say that it involved supervising others, and that was a challenge– because a lot of the people I had to supervise were disrespectful and rude. Maybe I’m not cut out for it, but I have managed people in the past, and it was easier in a different industry. The job didn’t pay very well, either.

I’m taking an online Bootcamp course, and I will be done with the program in two weeks! I’m kinda nervous about finding a new job in this field, because I’m currently experiencing a bout of depression and the feeling of imposter syndrome, which I hear is very common in the industry I’m trying to get into. However, it’s not helping! Some of the people in my class seem to be grasping the material better than me. I think this is in part because when I first started the class, I did not put enough time into it. I did not manage my time well. I can attribute that to a lot of things. I started the class in the beginning of summer, when I was feeling more on the manic side, and there were a lot of fun distractions. I also have no experience in this subject matter, so it took some getting used to. But anyway, after quitting my job I have put more time into the class and things are making more sense. Except the thing that comes along with not working for me, is depression from not having a place to go, and not having a regular schedule that gets me out of the house. It’s also seasonal. Bipolar people tend to get more depressed in the winter. Another symptom of depression and part of being on medication is anhedonia, which I definitely experience, and it’s been affecting my motivation. The main point of this program is for me to find a better job. The field I want to go into does have a lot of jobs, but honestly sometimes I doubt myself. I know I need to have confidence in order to get the job I want. I still have a lot of preparing to do to in order to be employer-competitive. I’m nervous about technical interviews. I get test anxiety, and sometimes my mind goes blank.

Because I’ve been experiencing some depression lately, I recently went on a higher does of Abilify. At first it made me feel kinda stupid and forgetful. But I know I need to be on this higher dose in order to control my emotions better. I have not been functioning very well because I’ve been too depressed. And that is due to my chemical imbalance. But the weather is not helping. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s very dark and rainy here all the time.

What I need to remind myself is that I’ve made it this far! I know I will get through the program. I’ve had my ups and downs during the six-month process. There were moments when I wanted to give up on it. But I didn’t, and now I’m almost done! It’s an accomplishment. I’m in the home stretch, so I need to keep it together and finish this thing! And get a job!

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.