This blog entry may shock people but I hope it will open peoples eyes to what being ill with a psychotic episode of bi polar effective disorder can be like! All the photos on this blog were taken when I have been Ill in 2009 and 2011.
This is a big thing for me to put out there for everyone to read but I know that if other people with bi polar read this they will understand me on a level that no one else will and I hope it will also educate others about what a mental illness can be like, because lots of people are unaware of the reality of an illness which so many people suffer from, so I hope this gives you an idea of how serious and real the feelings and thoughts I had when I was psychotic really were, I’d like to give you a personal insight from my lived experience what it is like, because mental illness isn’t taken as seriously as it should be because its not physical and people have trouble understanding it because they cant see it. I hope this blog entry makes sense, its extremely hard to put into words!
For years after Jumping off the fourth floor balcony I blamed myself, because it was me myself that did it. The first year was the worst I just didn’t understand the illness at all, after I came out of the manic high literally all I thought about was what I could of done differently that night, I would lay in bed everyday and just look at every detail of that night and I actually thought by thinking about it I could change what had happened to make me not be in a wheelchair anymore, it really was mental torture. Over time I learnt and realised that it was not my fault at all, it was purely the illness. The ability to finally accept that it wasn’t my fault has been incredibly hard, because the effect of me jumping has had such serious consequences and has impacted on my life hugely.
I have only ever been really ill twice, but each time it lasted a few months to get back to complete reality. The first time was when I jumped off the balcony believing I could fly just over five years ago in 2009 in which I broke my back which has resulted in me using a wheelchair for the rest of my life. The second time was in 2011.
The first time I got ill, me and people close to me had no idea I even had bi polar so when I became psychotic and completely delusional and not myself, no one knew what was going on. The week Before I started to become ill I felt very depressed and confused, I remember saying to a friend one day “it just feels like there are clouds in my head” and a then another friend rang me later that day and I couldn’t stop crying, I had no idea why but I just felt so different and depressed. A few days later I went on a college trip for five days , I had doubts about going as I just didn’t feel like myself at all. I hadn’t slept at all the night before but I decided to go. It was on this trip away that I spiralled out of control and turned completely psychotic. I started to feel intensely euphoric , it was so much fun I felt on top of the world.
I felt incredibly happy beyond your imagination, my thoughts were extremely delusional and all over the place. My actions thoughts and feelings were like nothing I had ever experienced I started to behave completely unlike my usual self , the others on the college trip must have been so confused, they probably assumed I was either constantly drunk ,high on drugs or just really really excited and hyper.
The important thing to remember about Bi polar is there are different types but when someone is on a manic high/psychotic episode like I was they have racing thoughts and lots of them. I had so many ridiculous ideas but all at once. The strongest feeling I had was that I was someone very special that had been placed on the universe for a special reason. Everything I saw I thought related to me, every song I heard was about me etc. If i saw anything on TV it was as though the adverts or the programes were trying to pass on secret messages to me. I believed for a few hours one day during my college trip that I was the re incarnation of Van Gogh and had very strong feelings that I was the next coming of jesus but a female version. I thought so many unusual things! Whilst on the college trip I had no inhibitions and felt I was invincible and had seriously high feelings of self belief , I would go up to strangers and just start talking to them I was extremely chatty and very friendly. I nearly got hit by a vehicle by walking in front of it – you just don’t think of the consequences of your actions when your as ill as I was.
I spent all the money in my bank account as I thought I had endless money and when my card was getting declined I thought that there had been some kind of fault with the bank so I kept going into different shops and trying again. I bought so much random stuff!! I would do and say such ridiculous things , its so embarrassing looking back. I dressed in such random clothes , I thought at one point that I looked really cool when I wore odd socks tucked into my jeans and wearing a pair of 3D glasses you get from the cinema I thought I was setting a new fashion trend . Whilst ill like this I barely slept or ate, these things didn’t seem important. I bought an umbrella whilst away and one day thought that I would jump out of the hostel window with it like Mary Poppins. I onestly had absolutely no idea what was going on , I was completely out of touch with reality. I really don’t know how I came back from that trip alive!
The night of my accident In London I had several racing thoughts going through my head. The main one was that I had to fly off to the olympic stadium to perform and sing to millions of people , I remember being in the flat thinking that TV and film crews in helicopters were outside and were waiting for me to go out onto the balcony so they could capture me flying on camera. At the same time as thinking I could fly I thought that I was like Jesus and had to die and come back to life to save the rest of the world. I also had these ideas that if I jumped and died, everyone else would be able to live forever. So I got out of bed got dressed into my best outfit and did my makeup went out onto the balcony got up on the ledge stood up , put my arm in the air and said “too infinity and beyond” and jumped.
The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital laid on my back with things sticking out of me everywhere , I immediately tried to sit up ( this was before my spine had been operated on) so as soon as I tried to sit up there were about four people pushing me back down, I was still very psychotic , I honestly thought I was dead, there was a mental health nurse next to my bed and I thought she was some kind of weird voodoo lady, I was so scared, confused and upset. It wasn’t until later when my family walked in the room that I realised I wasn’t actually dead.
Despite breaking my back from believing I could fly and Jumping off the balcony, the second time I got ill in 2011 I still had the feeling that I would be able to fly.
One night at my house in 2011 I thought someone was sitting on my window ledge outside my window and I was to go out there and fly off with them, so I got all dressed up like I did before, luckily though I didn’t attempt it again. Although the second time I got psychotic I was very delusional, I wasn’t as bad as the first time. I haven’t been severely ill since the second time in 2011 but I do have the worry that if I was to get ill I could have another accident because I am just such a danger to myself. Currently I am on medication that keeps me stable and my care plan is to go into hospital if I was to ever become severely psychotic again, I made this decision myself with my mental health team.
The first time I was ill I was on the trip and then in London hospitals because of my severe injuries. Looking back on how I thought, felt and acted whilst ill is just so embarrassing , the singing really loud- thinking I could heal others is so cringey because my singing was just so awful and loud but I thought I was amazing! The second time I was ill I was living at home in my small village for the whole three months I was ill. So when I would go out I would see lots of people that knew me or knew of me so this meant that I embarrassed myself in front of lots of familiar people! There was a lot of silly things I would do , for example I would carry round a big bag with me that had all sorts of random things in like a mini trumpet, bubbles, stickers, sweets, nail varnishes , wind up radio etc and I would get them all out and start using them.
Although it is a lot of fun being ill because you feel great a lot of people that get psychotic and have similar feelings of being invincible like I did, have accidents and don’t always survive. It was incredibly difficult and worrying for my friends and family to see me ill like I was. When people close to me would say comments about me acting weird I thought they were just trying to ruin my fun as I really was having a great time! I would snap at friends and family which I always look back on and hate because that isn’t like me at all.
I broke my back and its changed my life forever but I am still here and I have learnt and suffered things that a lot of others haven’t so I feel like I can now help other people that are maybe experiencing Bi polar or depression using my experiences of having the illness, so I am going to be attending recovery college to learn about my own mental health then I can start learning how to help others. Mental illnesses can effect anyone at any point in their life. For me I was just a 19 year old girl living a regular stable life then one day bang and my whole life was turned upside down. No one could of ever predict what happend to me.
Please share the link to my blog to anyone you think may be interested and hopefully it will spread awareness of mental health and also spinal injuries- rachelholly90.wordpress.com
Thanks for reading!!
This photo was taken in 2011 when I was Psychotic for the second time