Psychosis is when a person loses touch with reality and could include seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see and believing things that are not true.
Hallucinations are when a person hears, sees feels or smells things that do not exist outside of their mind but which feel very true to the person who experiences them.
Another symptom is delusions – where a person shares strong beliefs that are not shared by others. For example believing in Jinn possession or conspiracy theories about government surveillance and imaginary spies.
Another type of symptom is disorganised speech and thinking which includes racing thoughts and flight of ideas.
This combination can cause severe distress and a change in behaviour and is known as experiencing a psychotic episode.
Before my first episode more than 13 years ago, I was suspicious about other people and saw strange birds and different colours which I believed where giving me instructions. Over the years I have experienced psychosis a number of times due to which I have been sectioned and admitted into hospital many times.
I believed people were telepathic and possessed by Jinn. Psychosis can be triggered by many causes including, a traumatic experience, stress, drug and alchohol misuse, and even a physical condition such as a brain tumour.
Psychosis can be treated using antipsychotic medication which can help to relieve symptoms and talking therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
Some people are recommended to take antipsychotics on a long term basis – possibly for the rest of their lives.
If a person’s episodes are severe they may need to be admitted to hospital. I was detained under a section 2 after my first breakdown and ended up staying in hospital for more than a year. Being sectioned was quite traumatic and possibly exacerbated my symptoms.
People with psychosis have a higher than average risk of self-harm and suicide. All I remember about my first episode is that I had strange beliefs and was angry all the time and I was far removed from reality. I also had so much energy and slept just a little.
Other times I have relapsed due to being worried about my family and friends and have absconded from hospital as a result.