The Ghost Of Me – My Experience Of Psychotic Depression

The Ghost Of Me – My Experience Of Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression is not something I’ve talked about on my blog before. It’s a subject I’ve wanted to talk about openly for a while, but I’ve always put it off. This is not just a fear of the reception it may receive or the look of horror on a person’s face when the word ‘psychosis’ is spoken. It is the uncertainty of delving back into the dark depths of my mind and confront the bully that made me suffer.

It started during a dark time in my life a few years ago when everything familiar to me was changing – a period I can only describe as a complete breakdown of my mentality. So much had happened all at once. My heart was broken for the first time, I had just finished my GCSEs and left school; with the obscure challenge of college looming. My Nan was ill and my mental health was rapidly declining. All of this at that frustrating age where you’re expected to act like an adult whilst still being treated like a child.

I spiralled into a deep, overwhelming depression and I was consumed by a black cloud. I shut myself away from the outside world, rejecting my friends and worrying my family. My weight dropped massively and I regularly hurt myself because quite frankly, I had lost the will to live.

I remember waking up one morning after another restless night, consumed by the familiar feeling of hopelessness and fatigue. However, on this morning something was different and it wasn’t until I forced myself to sit up did I realise what it was. There was a girl sat on the end of my bed, watching me. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever woken up to find a stranger in your bedroom, but it scared the hell out of me. Was I dreaming? I allowed myself to stare back at her. It was then I realised she wasn’t a stranger; she was me.

What I was seeing is what I now describe as a physical embodiment of my mental health. Her eyes were bloodshot and menacing; outlined by heavy eyeliner and mascara that ran down her pale cheeks. My usual smooth big hair was wild and unkempt on her and her mouth curved into a snarl, sneering at me. Her clothes were dirty and ripped; all black of course. It was her skin that alarmed me the most. She was covered in slashed cuts and blood, which I’m sure I saw drip onto my duvet.

“Who are you?” I recall whispering. I 100% believed this was a real person.

“I’m you,” she snapped. “And you’re not going to get rid of me.”

My literal shadow followed me everywhere for the next couple of weeks. I can’t remember how long exactly. That time of my life is quite a blur. I could not understand why no one else could see or hear her like I could, but she warned me that something awful would happen if I told anyone.

She would disappear sometimes; even the devil needs its sleep right? However she would always wake up when my anxiety levels grew. Her intrusion haunted me, her voice screaming at me that I was worthless and pathetic and I would live my miserable life alone. She told me everyone would be better off without me, and for a while I believed her. She was a constant, exhausting enigma, who persuaded me to do bad things. I was too scared to refuse.

Sometimes she would convince me she was my friend. “I’m your only friend,” she said. “The only person you can trust.” She would sit with me in my CBT sessions and dismiss everything my therapist would tell me. She would call her a liar and warned me that she was out to get me. I was conflicted. She was the devil on my shoulder. I’d curl up and close my eyes and hold my hands over my ears, telling her to shut up and leave me alone. She just laughed as I cried, and rejoiced in the fact she grew stronger as I became weaker.

Mental illness is like fighting a war where the enemy’s strategy is to convince you that the war isn’t actually happening. That’s what she did. She made me believe that all the horrible things she said about me were not fiction created by my poorly mind, but it was just who I was.

One day, I told her in my head she wasn’t real and I wouldn’t be listening to her anymore. She laughed and pushed me in front of a car.

It’s a hazy memory. It was one of the first times I’d left the house in a while and I remember stopping to cross a road. All of a sudden I felt like I had been shoved in my back, and I found myself in the middle of the road. I turned around and saw her cackling on the pavement. Luckily, the car changed direction at the last moment and I was terrified about the feeling of disappointment that seeped through me. I didn’t want to feel like this. That moment changed everything.

Conveniently, shortly after this event I had a psychiatric assessment. When the doctor asked me why I was transfixed on the empty chair in the corner of the room, I told him it wasn’t empty. She was sat in it. Everything poured out of me like an erupting volcano and I braced myself for disaster. I barely acknowledged the slight look of shock he tried to hide; my mind was on fire. He explained how he thought I was experiencing psychotic hallucinations as a subtype to severe depression. It is only now I can reflect on that day and feel extremely proud of myself. The ‘well’ me that has been locked in a cage for so long somewhere inside me by her evil twin had begun to stir.

I started taking the medication I still take now four years later, and slowly she faded away. Everything felt so quiet without her. I am worried I will have to rely on my medication for the rest of my life to enable me to be me and to prevent her resurrection. She isn’t gone completely. I still feel her presence sometimes. You know that feeling when you feel like you’re being watched or followed? If I forget to take my tablets for a few days I may catch a glimpse of her. I did try antipsychotics, but they didn’t agree with me.

Last year, I found myself at rock bottom again and she was there waiting, ready for revenge. I had just been out for dinner with a friend, and when I came home and walked into my room my heart stopped. She was there, on my bed like the first time I saw her. I won’t go into the details of the war I tried to fight against that night, but long story short, I took an overdose. Why? Because she told me too. She laughed as I swallowed each antidepressant – her idea of a sick joke. She liked the irony. Her presence was with me in the ambulance and she sat at the end of my hospital bed. I’ve never been so terrified.

After I left hospital and I began to recover, she began to disappear. She made me do the worse possible thing, yet I still survived. I still worry everyday that she’s going to be around the next corner. Maybe she’s the voice of my anxiety, and it’s her that is behind the steering wheel of my OCD. She still very much exists. However, with the right mixture of medication and psychotherapy, I will grow stronger and she will weaken.

I wanted to tell this story because I know psychosis has such a taboo attached to it, and psychotic depression is rarely talked about publicly.  I’m not a ‘psycho’ or an ‘insane freak.’ I am ill, and I will get better. During each battle I have beat her and I’ll beat her every time.

I am strong. I am in control.

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23 Comments

  1. 02/08/2017 / 10:58

    Amazing. The mind is a beautiful mystery that people will never understand if people like you didn’t share. Thank you.

  2. 31/05/2017 / 17:44

    This article is absolutely amazing. It’s extremely well written so one can imagine that terrifying horror story you had to experience with your hallucination. Moreover, it’s incredibly interesting! It’s really brave and valuable you wrote something like that.
    I myself can relate to it in a certain way. I have experienced a psychotic mania with mixed features and it was quite similar in some way.
    Keep writing this kind of articles. It’s a great job.

  3. Matt
    12/05/2017 / 20:24

    This. This. Bloody. This ! Stop it now. Too good. So good. Is it wrong to feel proud of you for that piece of writing!? Haha Just keep doing and sharing what you’re doing

  4. 07/05/2017 / 14:37

    This is such a wonderful article. It’s so honest and authentic, and you paint a very clear picture of what you experienced. I think it’s amazing that you are sharing with the world to stop the stigma of mental illness. I applaud you for being so brave, and I definitely look forward to checking out the rest of your site! Thank you!!

  5. 07/05/2017 / 07:25

    I suffer with anxiety too. Your experience with it is very interesting x

  6. 06/05/2017 / 03:08

    This must have been difficult for you to do, well done. I can totally relate. I have a diagnosis of Bipolar and when I’ve been at my worst my mind tells me things that aren’t real and forces me to hurt myself and other things. When I was at my lowest ever point, I imagined one of my high school teachers outside my house screaming and cursing in at me and as a result wasn’t very nice to her cause I believed it to be true when it wasn’t. She was one of the first people outside my family to take a genuine interest in me and she would have kept in touch with me if I’d have just apologised for everything that happened.

  7. 29/04/2017 / 08:53

    So brave for writing about your experiences. I want too hug to sooooooo much right now. Thank you for writing and sharing.

  8. Kaitlyn
    29/04/2017 / 02:05

    This is a fantastic artical!

  9. 26/04/2017 / 07:12

    You are so, so brave to share this, Meg. Being able to say you have come out the other side of this really shows just how strong you are. I personally don’t have much experience with hallucinations, but I found this incredibly insightful and thank you for having the courage to share it x

  10. 18/04/2017 / 20:38

    This is a wonderful post. I have experienced anxiety and depression, but I have never experienced psychosis, and I felt like this post taught me something about it, and I agree that it’s very important to reduce the stigma attached to it.

    I really wish you all the best with your recovery, Meg!

  11. 18/04/2017 / 15:57

    Wow, this post is brilliantly written. Thanks for your honesty- it’s not something I’ve seen many people talk about. You have come so far and I am so glad to hear you are getting stronger and more better equipped to handle it. I hope things continue getting even better, you are a warrior! 🙂 xx

  12. Karen
    04/03/2017 / 23:10

    I try not to tell anyone about my psychotic episodes coz I feel judged just by the look on their faces. I think you’re incredibly brave. Well done

  13. Billy
    04/03/2017 / 23:09

    A powerful & courageous article into the darkness of psychotic illness. Respect.

  14. Jennifer
    04/03/2017 / 23:08

    Breaking the stigma of psychosis. This is so honest and informative!

  15. 24/02/2017 / 01:10

    You’re amazingly brave to share your story like this. I’m in awe of you!

  16. Faisal Ali
    23/02/2017 / 23:23

    Meg honestly I don’t think I’ve ever felt so emotional reading a blog post. You are incredibly brave to share this post and for you to share this shows a lot of courage and bravery. I think you have achieved an objective because to be honest I don’t know a lot about psychosis even though I’ve heard of it but you’ve helped me to learn about what it can be like and I like blogs where I learn things so thank you. Just want to say she has thrown everything at you so far but the fact you are still here shows that she has never beaten you and I really like what you said when you believe you will get stronger and she will weaken with the right help and support. I also believe it too and I hope you have kept those words in your heart and use them to overcome any challenges that may come in a positive way. I think you should be incredibly proud of yourself for doing a post like this and showing a positive attitude and determination to beat her!

  17. Lulu Blue (@LuluDigitale)
    23/02/2017 / 22:21

    wow i’m astonished Meg… not at the content of the article; but by the fact that you doubt yourself so much, and all you really needed was to remind yourself how damn strong & a survivor that you have been and still are on a daily basis, in order to really set aside any doubts to silence. Meg, you are a very courage person a young woman of strong will to live, in spite of your struggles, personified by your psychotic hallucinated self who was pushing you to believe that you were such a bad person who didn’t deserve to live. You should be proud because you survived ; because you tell the story unapologetically, with the strong ending of I will beat her – just like you have before, thus far.

  18. Ashley
    23/02/2017 / 22:02

    Brave story. Gorgeously told.

  19. Grace
    23/02/2017 / 21:54

    A beautifully written piece Meg and you are incredibly brave. The more we talk the more they have to listen!

  20. 23/02/2017 / 21:49

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, I found it quite relatable; you write beautifully and you are a strong and brave women. Psychosis can be so debilitating and as scary as hell, well done for speaking up that day! I have always had a lot of trouble opening myself up to psychiatrists. xx

  21. Anon
    23/02/2017 / 21:47

    Well done for sharing and putting your story for others to read. You should be proud, it is very well written. Well done you! 😄

  22. Nicolas
    23/02/2017 / 21:45

    Wow !!!! such courage to relive your episodes !!!! But well done. the post is beautifully written and expressive.. you have a talent.. and YES, – YOU will grow stronger and she will weaken. So Brave. you will win (i know it) !!

  23. 23/02/2017 / 21:35

    I teared up reading this Meg. You are so amazingly strong and brave for writing this, but mostly for fighting this every time. I can relate to a few things you wrote down and it’s a hard battle every single day. But you are getting stronger by the minute and I’m incredibly proud of you! Keep doing what you do, this was a brilliant post and I’m sure this will help a lot of others. You are strong, so strong.

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