Hi everybody - I am a bipolar II who had my first (and only so far) psychotic break a few months back after taking (I'm not kidding) some cough syrup and having a toke of pot. Sent me into a 4 day break from reality. I was having both auditory and visual hallucinations (mostly everything looked and sounded very "weird" - like it did back when I did acid as a teenager - haven't done acid for 25+ years!) Oh, I should mention I am a woman in my mid 40's and have been on Cymbalta and Topiramate for a few years and have been stable since then. No major highs or lows.
My question is what other BPII's have experienced as psychosis. I've only ever heard the word used without people really describing what they experienced. My visual hallucinations were that I could "make" objects look like something else (especially at night time in low light - my boyfriend's face would look like a monster and then like it was floating off his head etc) but I was aware I was doing it. It didn't happen on it's own. As far as auditory goes, everything sounded VERY strange - like a door slamming was like "WOW - that's so WEIRD!" It sounded like when you watch a screwball comedy and they add funny sound effects to normal things......
Have any other BPII's had any hallucinations or psychosis? What was it specifically and what brought it on? Thanks everyone for sharing......
Hey DreamsInRainbow: I've experienced a few episodes of mild psychosis. I was diagnosed as Bipolar II last year, although I have suspected it since I was in my teens. The last two years I suspect I had a subtle disconnect from reality. I used to have hypomanic episodes, but now it is either a deep depression or mixed episodes. Before the lamotrigine it was pretty much a constant mixed depression, and I would see the world as flat, almost like a pop-up book, thought people were staring at me, etc. After I started the lamotrigine my episodes shifted into a flat deep depression. Under moments of high stress I would get paranoid, thinking my meds were placebo, etc. Recently it has just gotten worse. It is always stress and depression-triggered. I disconnect from reality and can't tell what is going on. I see doorways in the patterns of tiles, think the shadows of trees are trying to tell stories, that existence isn't real, my memories aren't real, and I can't tell where I am in time or memory. I used to be able to tell when I was having an episode of psychosis, but now my self-awareness is pretty much gone, hence the Abilify I am now on. A number of people insist that Bipolar II by definition can't have psychosis, and while that is the current DSM-IV definition, no one really goes by its limiting guidelines. Mental illness is much more varied and no one fits anything perfectly. In fact the DSM-V is coming out soon with a whole new criteria for Bipolar II. You might find this study interesting as well:
Good luck with everything. Also, I used to be able to picture the same things!
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New here, but my pdoc and tdoc are still deciding if I am BP1 or BP2, but they are leaning toward BP2. I have been manic with psychosis. Never been able to will a hallucination on, though. I have seen tulips spinning while on a walk (and not just swaying in the breeze, but spinning crazy like a teacup ride at the fair), faces melting, bright blue chairs spinning round and round at my child's preschool and so on. If it was a bright color in my peripheral vision it would melt, move and spin. Shadows and bright colors almost took on a forth dimension. That's my experience, anyway.
I don't know if I'm Bipolar 1 or 2. I'm going to ask my doctor on my next visit. I've had a lot of weird experiences with bipolar, not just hallucinations. But with my hallucinations I would see dead relatives while I was driving. Like, a car would go by and I would see my dead uncle driving it. I knew it wasn't real, and it didn't scare me, I was just like...ok that was weird. I didn't think they were ghosts, and there was something happy about seeing them again. Also, I work at an elementary school. One of the teachers I assist I would "hear" his thoughts. This is called "loudspeaking." I knew it wasn't real. I didn't believe I was mind reading. It was like I was in a movie and I could hear the main characters thoughts out loud. I knew I was the only one who could hear them, and that no one knew it was happening except me. At the same time I knew it was odd and I knew something must be wrong with me. Also, several times I've heard music that wasn't there. The music is quiet like off in the distance. Every time I heard it was something new. Once it was an orchestra arrangement with a horn solo. Music I've never heard in real life. There was something comforting about it. Also, I've heard Pachelbel's Canon in a different sort of arrangement. Another time I was going to sleep and I heard my mom calling to me for help, but it only came from one ear, the ear I was sleeping on. I knew right away it wasn't real. Once I heard music and it sounded like a radio. I heard it for awhile before I realized no one was around me with the radio on. There was no TV on. It didn't make sense to hear it unless someone outside was playing music. So I went to the window to hear, and I heard nothing once I realized there was no music. Thankfully none of my hallucinations has frightened me. I don't know what I would do if I had those kind. I have had other things that has frightened me with bipolar, but not hallucinations. It's interesting to hear about others hallucinations.
I have tinnitis. That is when I hear music and what sounds like air leaking from a tire. I hear it almost every day. I believe this is an inner ear issue.
When I eventually lay down I have major problems with racing thoughts. Sometimes they are about my family and current events. Sometimes they are like a slideshow of rapidly moving pictures of real and unreal events.
They severely affect the quality of my sleep.
Most of my seroquel dosage adjustments have been to calm those thoughts down. I got up to taking 1600 mg a day (4-400 mg pills a day).
If I talk to myself in my head during the day I consider it as having a conversation with myself internally.
I used to pay good money to hallucinate back in my screwed up past. Because of that I understand what it is and make it through it much easier than most. I was super dehydrated most of last year. That means that I hallucinated a lot also.
I do not know why you are seeing the images that you see. That is something that only your therapist and you will know.
I'm on medication now that has gotten rid of the hallucinations. I did have racing thoughts, but again my medicine is helping me a lot. The worst side effect I've been having is feeling tired all the time. I always want to take naps. I guess that is better than not being able to sleep and having racing thoughts. I'm trying to not take a nap today, so I will be able to sleep normally tonight. Lately, I've just been feeling tired, bored, and maybe a little depressed.
Even on 1600 mg of Seroquel or 200 mg of seroquel XR I still have racing thoughts. I still have conversations with myself during the day. They are just not as often. You can learn to manage them much better. Does that make any sense?
I also take Pretiq for depression, amitriptylene for insomnia/mood stabilizer and topiramate for mood stabilizer. Everybody blames my psych meds everytime that my system gets wacky. I only take 6 pills a day.
The depression that you are experiencing maybe from your bi-polar or you may have a full blown secondary diagnosis of depression itself. I definitely do.
If you are doing better on the meds that you are on that is wonderful news. A lot of times it can take 4-6 weeks to get the full effects of a new med.
I have been doing this a very long time. I can give you a list of all of the various meds that I have tried over the years. It wouldn't tell the full story though.
You may hate it one time and love it the next. It is all about what's going on with your system at any given time.
Take very good care of yourself. Please let us know if we can provide support or help in any way.
I've had mild episodes, especially when in anxiety. Objects seem much larger than normal, like they're disproportionate to the rest of the room. Sounds get really loud, almost deafening. I also had one once when I decided to stop taking my meds on my own (stupid decision, please don't ever do it) because I thought o didn't need them. A few months later when my body was completely rid of every bit of meds int system, I had a complete meltdown. I got angry for absolutely no reason and found nothing wrong with it at the time- I thought I was completely justified. I cried for no reason and couldn't stop, and this was in public at a dinner. Absolutely could not stop, for anything, and couldn't explain why I was crying hysterically. I was very suicidal and talked to myself more than usual (because let's face it, we all talk to ourselves), and I blacked out at least once and don't remember what I was saying. Lesson learned, and I will never go off my meds abruptly or on my own again. But other than that, nothing too bad. I've had a few bad experiences when doing the few drugs I've tried, but nothing major.