A couple things on medication: 1) an open reflection on it and 2) a video piece using AI text.
This is anecdotal and I know many people for whom medication is more trouble than help, and/or people who are happy living with their symptoms. That was me until recently, when psychosis started to destroy me, I would have done anything to make it stop. And I’m confident aripiprazole, a 2nd generation antipsychotic, saved my life. This reflection comes after a month of taking it.
The first week or so was difficult – I was extremely faint, dizzy and nauseated for most of the day (until around 4pm). I couldn’t do much without needing a lot of rest. I had been worried for years that antipsychotics would make me more checked out with the world than the psychosis. For me it’s lifted the cloud of voices, noises and delusions and now the world is much clearer. I’m still more tired than before; I remind myself when I get into bed before 10pm, or can’t stand up without getting tunnel vision, that this is normal. And while that sounds a little sad, it’s still better than the alternative.
Why am I writing this? Because too many people fundamentally misunderstand psychosis.
- During a delusion, by definition, I don’t know I’m experiencing one. I believe 100% what I’m experiencing is true.
- A voice tells me not to interact with people; aggravates me to the point of lashing out if I do, or makes me difficult to understand. I isolate myself and won’t be able to have a reasonable conversation until the episode passes.
- If you’re talking to me while I’m experiencing this imagine I’m on the phone with my boss: my attention is very much split; I’m listening to someone else; it’s maybe a negative and stressful conversation; it’s annoying for you, and not your fault, that this is happening when you want to talk to me, but I can’t just hang up the phone.
- The worst part is the isolation and alienation. I felt so removed from everyone in my life, from society, so misunderstood and alone, which deepens the depression that triggers the psychosis in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle. Be kind, read up and understand, and do something to make someone feel less alone.
- Psychotic does not mean ‘dangerous’ or ‘violent’. Psychosis is simply experiencing something that everyone else cannot.
- Ever heard someone call your name on the street but no one did? Been falling asleep and sworn your coat is another person? Felt your phone vibrate when it didn’t? Had hallucinations on psychedelics? We all have experiences of reality that other people don’t from time to time.
- Drugs, head injuries, lack of sleep, water or food can cause psychosis. It’s a symptom, not an illness.
Find out more about psychosis on the Hearing Voices and Mind websites.
I also hear abstract sounds, which feed into a lot of the sound art I make. Here’s a video for my new piece COCKTAIL_ featuring GPT-3 AI generated text on different medications.
(Note – this text should definitely not be taken as factual. Always consult a doctor.)