"Psychosis from a different angle" - Katie's story
Katie, who works as a therapist in the NHS, reflects on her personal experience with psychotic depression, as well as her father’s. After witnessing her father’s psychotic episode last year, Katie saw the condition from a new perspective and gained greater insight into her own recovery journey.
I was diagnosed with psychotic depression in 2013, shortly after my 30th birthday. I am now in my early 40s. Back then, I knew nothing of the condition. I am still learning about it now and always will continue to do so.
I saw how my father coped during his psychotic break in 2023. Going back to the same hospital I was in ten years earlier, this time to visit my father who had been sectioned, enabled me to observe psychosis from a different angle. Reflecting on my father, who seemed so normal at first in his conversation in the hospital day room, I realised after 15 minutes when his conversation changed that he was experiencing delusions, similar to what I had experienced.
Observing and being with my father during his psychotic break made me realise how serious the condition is. I had, and sometimes still am, in denial about the condition. Initially in 2013, I think the denial, and trying to carry on like psychotic depression never happened to me, led to my relapse in 2015.
Going back to the same hospital I was in ten years earlier, this time to visit my father who had been sectioned, enabled me to observe psychosis from a different angle.
The good news is the older I get, the more acceptance comes and the more success I have at managing the condition. Writing this blog is another step on the way to acceptance, as well as starting to be more open to friends and family about my experience.
After my relapse in 2015, I had to reassess my life. It has been a wake-up call for me and continues to be so. Sometimes I want to forget it happened, sometimes I am angry it happened. There are so many different emotions I feel about it. At times, I feel appreciative that it happened - the condition forced me to make changes in my life which have been very beneficial for me.
Experiencing depression and continuing to manage this part gives me more understanding of the condition, and helps me to feel more empathy towards others who are dealing with this. For me, managing the condition involves a mixture of low dose anti-psychotic medication, coping strategies and personal therapy.
I give the psychotic part of my condition a chance to breathe and find this prevents me from tipping over into full blown psychosis. I have found music - especially dancing to it in whichever way I want to; be it at a gig, a festival, or at home - is a real release. Dancing doubles up as exercise for me, which also helps manage the depression along with jogging, swimming, hiking and yoga.
After my relapse in 2015, I had to reassess my life. It has been a wake-up call for me.
Progressive muscle relaxation, mindful breathing, compassion focused therapy and applying good sleep hygiene helps me with stress management and reduces relapse for me. As a CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapist in the NHS, I know about various techniques to manage stress which keeps the psychotic depression at bay.
But for me, one of the more therapeutic activities is talking with others who are dealing with the same condition. I do not think there is enough awareness of the condition and there is still stigma about it, whether through the media or innocent unintentional negative comments made by friends or family or general public.
It is because of this stigma, as well as wanting to work on my own self-acceptance of the condition, that I am glad to have the opportunity to write this blog. As I write, I find it therapeutic. I hope you find my blog helpful and I thank you for taking the time to read this.
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