A Day With Psychosis

I would like to take you back in time with me. We’re not going too far. It was perhaps last April or May, I can’t remember, but it was a day I’d like to share with you. It wasn’t a typical day, but yet it was. This is a day that can happen, and did happen to me. This is a day in the life of someone with Psychotic Depression. Bear in mind that this doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough. This was a moderate to bad day and it went like this.

7:45 – I wake up. Before I even open my eyes I can feel it. Something is there, like a pressure in my head, there seems to be something extra in my brain. It feels like extra air. My head feels heavier somehow. This is bad. When I wake up feeling like this sometimes I just stay that way, but sometimes it progresses into something more.

I realize I don’t have time to ponder what it means and what might happen later on because it’s a school day and I forgot to make my son’s lunch before I went to sleep last night. I jump up, wake my husband who begins getting ready to take our little boy to school. I make his lunch, get him dressed and at 8:20 they are out the door.

I ask my little boy for a hug, he gives me one, and my skin crawls. My husband kisses me goodbye and my skin crawls. My daughter heads out and hugs me too, and my skin crawls. I don’t want to be touched today, but I never let them know that when I feel this way. I don’t ever want them to think twice about touching me or hugging me because most of the time I love it. But this is one of my symptoms, and today it’s rearing its ugly head.

Another one of the symptoms of this illness is excessive guilt. I begin to feel guilty. Guilt and I are old friends. I’m convinced there is only a certain amount of guilt in the world and I am not only carrying mine, but I’m carrying around someone else’s who’s incapable of feeling it. I don’t just feel guilty because my skin crawled just now when everyone hugged me and told me they loved me, but I feel guilty for existing. I feel guilty for being alive. Then I begin to feel depressed because I know the guilt will be with me all day today. It sucks.

A few minutes later my grandfather gets up. I make his breakfast this day. I normally don’t but he’s been falling a lot recently, he’s getting to that wobbly age and so I get him to sit at the table while I make his oatmeal. He makes small talk with me about the weather and how he slept. I talk back for five minutes or so, probably not even. I can’t give him the attention he deserves this morning. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I just want to be left alone because I’m afraid of what’s coming.

I decide I’m going to the gym today. I’ve gotten into a regular routine of going and as much as I want to stay home, crawl into bed and stay there I force myself to go into the bathroom and get ready.  As I am looking in the mirror and washing my face it starts. I am hearing voices. There they are. They’re back and they’re not friendly.

Some people’s auditory hallucinations are heard inside their mind. That’s when you hear people talk about voices ‘in their head’. Mine are not like that. Mine are heard from outside. It’s like having two invisible assholes following you around and talking about you, and that’s what they are, assholes! I hear them with my ears and the sound of their voices are as real to me as my voice would be to you if we were having a face to face conversation.

They don’t address me directly, but they have conversations with each other about me.  Either that or they fight with each other. Today they are getting along because they are agreeing on how gross I look and talking about what a bad mother I am because I forgot to make lunch the night before.

She makes everyone so unhappy, the woman says what a fucking waste she is.

I know, the man agrees with her. What the fuck is wrong with her?  She just fucks up all over the place.

It’s at this point I have a decision to make. Sitting in my cupboard is an ‘emergency dose’ of Seroquel.  That’s an antipsychotic drug. I could take it. Right about now if you’ve never had a psychiatric illness you’re wondering why I’m debating it.

Taking that drug is not like taking a Tylenol for a headache. Antipsychotics are basically very heavy tranquilizers and if I take one I’ll be out for the rest of the day and most of tomorrow, plus I’ll be groggy for two days following that. Just that one dose will cause me to lose four days. I don’t want to lose four days. I have things to do.  So my choice is either take the drug and lose the days, or suffer through today in hopes that it will get better. I decide to go about my business today, but if they’re still around tomorrow I’ll take it. Hopefully they won’t be.

I grab my stuff and head out for the gym. Hubby hugs me goodbye, my skin crawls again, the guilt washes over me again and I leave. The first thing I do when I get out in the hallway is stick the iPod in my ears and turn it up as loud as it can go. It’s not loud enough to really drown them out but it helps. I turn it down as I get on and off busses because I hate to disturb other people. I know it’s annoying to hear someone’s music through their earphones and I try to be respectful of other people, but when I get to the terminal to switch busses I forget to turn it down as I’m getting on, and as I sit down I notice the driver is yelling.

She’s not just turned around to request that whoever has their music up please turn it down, she is actually yelling! 

“Whoever has that on turn it the hell down or get the hell off my bus!”  Wow, she’s really angry. I discretely reach in my pocket and turn the volume down. She realizes it’s me and gives me a dirty look. “I’m sick of rude ass people,” she says, turning around to start the bus.

At this point the whole incident would be over for most people, but she continues to go on about it. She talks to herself and to some of the people sitting close to the front about how much it irritates her when people do that, all the while giving glances back in my direction once in a while. As my music is no longer on to drown out my imaginary assholes they chime in and start agreeing with her.

Of course she’s pissed off at her. Everyone fucking hates her. Look what she did. This is what happens when she leaves the house. They have to put up with her and look at her too. Yuck. She’s ruining everyone’s day.

It’s a ten minute hellish bus ride to the gym and my stop is coming up. I’m nervous now because I know I have to walk past the driver to get out and I just know she’s going to say something to me, I can just freakin’ feel it. It’s been ten minutes and she’s still seething. The bus stops, I get up and as I walk past her, sure enough she says, “the next time you do that I will kick you right off the bus. I’m so sick of rude ass people.”  I know she’s sick of rude ass people because she’s said it at least five times by now.

Now I know some of you are sitting there saying you would have told her off or what not, but what can you say? “I’m sorry, I just have it up so loud because I’m experiencing a bit of psychosis today. I’m hearing voices and sometimes loud music helps drown it out.”

Ha! No, you do NOT ever say that! I simply tell her I’m sorry.

I am sorry. I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s day or be rude, I’m just trying to get through mine.

Finally I’m at the gym. I swipe my key barcode thingy and go inside. The voices have a lot to say in here.  They hurl quite a few insults at me during the short walk from the door to the change room. When I get in the change room I go for the bathroom stall right away. I don’t have to use it, but I do have to cry.

She’s so pathetic, they say. I feel pathetic now. I’m 38 years old and hiding in a bathroom stall crying. It’s like elementary school all over again.

After ten minutes I pull myself together and head out onto the floor. I can play the iPod as loud as I want in here because everyone else is doing the same. Nobody gives a shit because they’d never hear your music over their own.

I blast the Foo Fighters for a solid hour. Dave Grohl is a great singer, but he’s also a great screamer and I’ve found their heavier stuff to be perfect for days like today.  I put, “White Limo” on repeat and on blast and work out for a solid hour. The assholes barely say anything. Either they figure it’s futile to try and be heard above the noise or they’re Foo Fighters fans too.

The moment I get off the machine and shut the iPod down they are back. I have a headache and I’m exhausted. I have to pick up some things at the grocery store though and luckily it’s in the same building as the gym. I head in and grab a little cart.

I go as quickly as I can because any time someone makes eye contact with me the assholes tell me it’s because they are disgusted to have to look at me. Apparently I’m so ugly I should just stay in the house forever. Oh, and I ruined everyone’s life by being born. I should not have been born because I upset the balance of things…they like that particular insult. They say it a LOT!

By the time I get to the counter and to the head of the line I am beginning to double over. The guilt is awful now. I swear to god I could not feel more guilt if I had murdered someone.  I feel like I am being eaten alive at this point.  The very nice lady at Sobeys asks me if I’m ok. I think that’s sweet. It’s rare to run into someone who would ask. I tell her I’m fine, I just came from the gym and probably pulled a muscle or something. I grab my bag and haul ass out of there. There’s a bus that will take me straight home if I can catch it and it’s coming in five minutes.

I just barely make it, thank god, because I don’t want to take a chance on going back to the terminal and running into that other bus driver. I keep the iPod off just to be safe. I don’t want to have any more encounters with strangers today. I’ve had enough.

I get home, put the groceries away and lie down. I should take a shower but I’m too exhausted. The assholes tell me what a horrible human being I am while I lay there, and then all of a sudden they shut up. They’re gone just as suddenly as they appeared this morning. It’s 1pm and I fall asleep.

At 2:30pm my son arrives home from school. He bounces on me, happy to see me after being in school all day. He asks for snacks, drinks. I’m too exhausted. Plus the second I opened my eyes, guess what?  If you’re still reading I don’t have to tell you who’s back. I tell him to go ask Daddy for his snack and I will see him at supper time.

My daughter comes home at 3pm. Tells me a few things about her day. She’s excited about something. She’s a great kid. I want to listen to her and hear what she has to say, but the assholes have just become too loud now. I tell her I love her and ask her to come wake me up at 4:30 so I can make supper. She agrees.

At 4:30 she wakes me again. I get up and make supper. Everyone asks, “What’s for supper?” I tell them. I don’t remember what it was but nobody seems happy with it. I feel guilty. I double over alone in the kitchen when nobody is looking with guilt. I feel so remorseful it’s almost crushing me now.

I feed everyone. After supper I sit in the living room. This would be a great time for most people, but not for me, not today.  The TV is on and those people are talking, the computer is going and someone is watching YouTube, my Dad’s TV is going and my daughter’s TV is on in the distance.  My assholes are still talking too.

It’s at this point I seriously rethink the Seroquel. At least if I can’t stop the noise in my house I can be unconscious. I decide against that and go hide in the bathroom. I sit there for ten minutes listening to the assholes criticize me. They’ve started with the name calling now which is always super awesome. The “C” word is thrown around liberally.  I realize I haven’t had a shower yet.

I grab some clothes and a towel and stay in there as long as I can. The shower helps a bit. The assholes don’t exactly go away but they’re a bit quieter.

It’s about 6pm now. I ask my daughter if I can have her room for a little bit. She agrees, although she is slightly annoyed. We live in a two bedroom apartment and I have no room of my own to get away. I lay down.

Everyone can see I’m not having a great day at this point. They know something is wrong but they don’t know what. I’m left alone for about two hours, until it’s time to put my son to bed. I give him a snack and send him in. Then I put the iPod back in my ears, more Foo Fighters, and do the dishes.

At 9:30 pm is when my Dad heads to bed. I say goodnight to him. It’s really only the second time I’ve talked to him today. More guilt. The TV is on and it’s loud. I ask my husband to turn it down, he gets annoyed but does it anyway. I don’t blame him, it wasn’t that loud but between that and the assholes I just want a little more quiet. The TV stays on until 11:30 and by that time I’m shaking.

Finally it’s dark, it’s quiet and the assholes seem to be petering out a bit. This is my time to write. I open my latest thing I’m working on. It’s a dystopian future tale that I’m really loving. I was having fun writing it last night and I knew when I stopped exactly where I’d pick it up this night. My goal is 1000 words a day.

 I sit.

 I get about 150 words. I should be impressed that I got anything at all, but still, it feels like a failure. I shut the whole thing down hoping tomorrow will be better.

I lay down on the couch. They’re not talking too much now. Still definitely there but not enough to keep me awake, thankfully. Sometimes they do that. I’m totally exhausted and I fall asleep hoping tomorrow will be better.

Luckily…it is.




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18 responses to “A Day With Psychosis

  1. Zoe

    I really enjoyed reading this. I feel for you, as I have similar experiences myself when I’m severely depressed. I really admire the way you are able to inject a hint of humor into your writing, despite how serious the subject matter is. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

  2. char

    i have been experiencing just these exact symptoms more often lately cuz. i just didn’t have the words to explain it all…. 😦

  3. I applaud the fact that you can put this information out there for people. It really is important for others to understand things like this. I studied psychology until, I had to leave college due to seizures. I was very open with my instructors about a suicide attempt that almost ended my life. Once I had my children and my son was diagnosed with a couple psychological disorders, I became more interested in learning all I could!
    Stay strong, and know that you aren’t alone in this! Much love and big hugs!

  4. Reblogged this on How I'm Surviving On My Own and commented:
    A really great personal story..

  5. Really good, Jess. I’ve never had any experience like this, other than being the nurse that cared for the person who was brought to the hospital in such a condition that they weren’t able to cope anymore . Because of your incredible writing skills you’re able to describe your feelings & experiences so that the rest of us have an inkling of the torture you must go through. Through all of our correspondence I feel like you are my friend. That hasn’t changed. You seem to be a wonderful person, and I know it doesn’t help when you have one of these “days,” but please know that your friends out here in FB land think you are a worth-while, funny, intelligent human being.

    • Thank you Donna! That’s so kind of you to say. I really, really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment here. It means a lot. Thank you! ❤

  6. Patel

    Hi Jessica,

    I read your post and I have a similar kind of experience. These voices aim to insinuate doubts in you about yourself and your beliefs and make your life miserable. I’m not claiming that I can help you, Only God can help you, but I just wanted to suggest that you try something to end these voices other than the medication.

    Fight them back with the same weapon they use: voice. If they tell you that you are pathetic, you must not just take it, take a stand and reply to that. Tell them that they are pathetic, or something you feel like telling them. Tell them to worry about their own future, then to worry about yours.

    Pray to God to help you in your distress.

    I hope this helps. If you do plan on trying this, then I’d be interested in knowing if anything changes.

    Take Care!

  7. Very inspiring piece. I really did get into your head with this and could not stop reading it. I’m glad you’re able to just keep pushing forward with the hope that tomorrow will be better.

    This also gave me insight to your writing style and now I’m very interested in buying your books. Keep at it girl! Don’t let your depression or the voices win!

  8. Pingback: Why the World Needs Writers and Introverts | The Seal of Oblivion

  9. Pingback: Writing to Quiet Voices? I Don’t Think So. | jessicamacintyredotcom

  10. CJ

    This is completely fascinating. I’m so glad you took the time to write this, and I’m so impressed that you can actually accomplish things like go to the gym and write while this is going on. I don’t hear voices the way that you do, my self hatred comes directly from, well, myself, so I guess it’s my own voice saying horrible things. But the crippling guilt that you’re talking about, I understand that! It’s just like mine, and while I hate that it happens to anyone else, I can’t thank you enough for making me feel so not alone in that regard.

    I don’t know if these questions are too intrusive, or if you’ll even see them, since this is an old post. Feel free to ignore me, but I’m so curious. Are the voices you hear the voices of/similar to anyone you know? When you hear them, do you imagine what these people look like? How do you (or do you) decide to explain any/all of this stuff to people in your day to day life?

    Again, bravo for your accomplishments. You seem like such a strong, amazing person, and very cool to share this story. Also, that bus driver was so out of line! I am furious on your behalf! (I most likely would have started crying on the bus, lol.)

    • Hi CJ. Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I know this post is a bit long but it’s good to know that some people can stick with it to the end. The questions you asked are good questions and ones I’ve heard before. Trust me, every psychiatrist I’ve ever had has started out asking me the same things. Firstly, the voices are not similar to anyone I know at all. I don’t recognize them and never have, but they’ve been the same for the last twenty years. I never really thought about what they looked like until I decided to include them in my book, The Vampires of Soldiers Cove. In that book the protagonist has the same illness and I included the ‘arguing couple’, who later on turn out to be real. I had to imagine them for that and doing so was somewhat helpful, but up until that point they were very much faceless.
      I don’t really explain these things to people from day to day. I have a few good friends and family who I talk to about it but that’s really it. Aside from that and the blog I don’t really bring it up, but if people are curious and ask questions in a respectful way I am always happy to answer because it might help them understand what’s happening the next time they see me, or anyone else for that matter, acting a little strange or isolating themselves. Mostly people don’t want to know. If you think they’re uncomfortable talking about depression, they get REALLY uncomfortable talking about psychosis.
      Thanks once again for reading! It’s much appreciated, and feel free to share it if you wish. 🙂

      • CJ

        Thanks so much for replying. 🙂 I know some people don’t mind answering questions, and I kind of figured since you were sharing so much you would be one of the open ones, but I was so worried after I posted that I might have offended you. I’m so glad that doesn’t seem to be the case. I have so many questions about brain disorders, and people rarely seem to get to heart of the everyday stuff, so this post was SO interesting to me. I’m really enjoying your blog!

        My mom has a few psychiatric disorders, but was never diagnosed until I was an adult. I basically grew up in this weird tailspin, because any time I questioned her odd behavior, she would convince me I was the one not making any sense. She doesn’t take medication now, and we don’t communicate. I wish I could understand her and how her brain works, but I don’t know if that will ever happen.

        Anyway, I know you don’t have the same issues, but I’m sure you’ve helped so many people understand loved ones and themselves better, just my giving an honest account of your day. Thanks so much for sharing it.

        I’m off to snag your book. It sounds like such a unique perspective to write from, I can’t wait to check it out! I’m glad you were able to take advantage of the voices and use them in your book. Did you notice any change in the way they acted after you wrote them down? It seems kind of like a cool sort of revenge, for lack of a better word. Just curious if that had any effect on anything.

  11. Thanks so much! Although I didn’t notice any changes after writing about them, it did feel good to do it. If you read the book you’ll see what I mean when you get to that portion of it. Thanks so much for checking it out. If you happen to like it, it’s part of a series. The second book is available now as well and the third is coming out April 1st.
    I’m so happy my blog has helped you.

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