Being Doubly Shamed in Psychosis

There’s something strange that occurs in highly stigmatized identities: the shame of being that identity and the shame of wanting to be identified as that identity. As someone with a degree of sustained insight, it was difficult to explain how my life was being run by a bunch of lies. Lies that would make me too scared to shower alone or to shower with the shower curtain closed. Lies that convinced me that I was actively pursued by entities that I couldn’t fully comprehend. And lies that convinced me that my own wife’s miscarriage was part of a curse and that it was all my fault.

Psychiatrists became dismissive when they saw that I did not fit their cookie-cutter description of a diagnosis. “That’s totally normal,” they were deadpan, despite my anxious demeanor, “everyone experiences those kinds of things.” True, everyone gets spooked by shadows… but I felt as though this was different. I was and am too afraid to bring it up to a psychiatrist for fear of being lambasted for my insight that I was too afraid to go home to shadows that patrolled my apartment. I was convinced something was happening, I just needed someone to believe me, to listen.

By fighting for an identity I never really wanted, I came across a paradox. I was stuck. I felt like I was fighting so hard for attention rather than getting support. I got very weak and tired from running away from psychosis yet being pulled towards it that it’s wearing me down. And I can only imagine how this must feel for someone who has to fight this on a daily basis: with doctor’s monitoring, family members judging, society portraying stigma…

I am convinced that all of this was my fault; whether through society, the medical community or my own self-esteem. Maybe I’m here, with 4 televisions on, yelling in the hallway so I can scare off the shadows because I made myself this way for attention. At this point, I don’t want to seek out assistance or services because of the question they will inevitably ask: “how can I help you?” and I will have to admit that I truly believe that something is wrong that I am experiencing psychosis.

I just want to reveal something that haunts me deeply, something I try so hard to suppress, and just get some sort of support and acknowledgment. This idea of dismissing people’s experiences in hopes of that helping them feeling better somehow is erroneous and needs to be exchanged for a better tactic: just listening.

Photo Credit:unsplash-logoMitchell Hollander


40 Replies to “Being Doubly Shamed in Psychosis”

  1. I can relate to psychosis, I had it daily for about a year before I got on meds. Not only daily, but every second that Iw as alone, and then silently sometimes when people were around. I don’t know how I hid it. It is hell.

  2. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is and what you go through. Keep pulling through and take your meds/attempt to (I can’t force anyone to take meds, just advocate for them). Don’t ever think no one is listening, I feel that is a scape goat. There are plenty of support groups and outpatient care services who are out there to listen. Simply writing, just as you are, is a great way to stay in touch with the community. Cheers, SV.

  3. They often try leaving me in belief of something that fits their diagnosis psychosis, drug addiction an exorcism, hell the strap me to a bed for no reason other than their own…

  4. So true James. The experience of being dismissed seems to happen to us a lot, even though our experiences are real, and frightening. I get sick of hearing that something is normal when it’s not. Unhelpful indeed.

  5. I can attest to this. Recently I was seeing a metal health professional, only three sessions for “intrusive thoughts.” The professional’s diagnosis was that what I was experiencing wasn’t out of the ordinary. While that made me feel a little better in the short term, it didn’t make those thoughts go away. So, I know what you’re going through here.

  6. It is hard when no one will Listen… You also have to give up a lot of personal emotion and pain for anyone to understand.

    Are the shadows still there? It must be very hard.

  7. I can’t completely understand in the psychosis context but for me its all physical. I’ve been struggling with some physical maladies that are chronic. Some that completely and utterly make my days extremely hard to get through. I’ve been looking for help and asking for help but maybe not asking enough. At the same time I’m afraid of coming off as a hypochondriac but if I could only show the doctor what it’s like every day maybe they’d take it more seriously? But what would the diagnosis be? Do I want that diagnosis? Probably not, but I do if it means I can start getting help for it.

    Does any of that make sense?

    1. Totally makes sense! Try to make ourselves heard and get help for valid concerns can be difficult because of our invalidating experiences. Thanks for your comment!

  8. I can relate to this. In particular I recently had my counselor read my blog post on hallucinations I had in graduate school. It was the first time he expressed a seriousness about my symptoms. Apparently I communicate better writing than speaking.

  9. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s encephalitis, which is brain inflammation. At some point I told some of my close friends that I had a neurological disease and I heard a lot in return that ‘I did not look like I had a neurological disorder’. I am not sure what people with brain inflammation are supposed to look like, but it was very upsetting to hear this. I guess they thought it would make me feel better that I looked ‘normal’.

      1. I also felt that people think that I am exaggerating my symptoms and that I actually don’t feel that bad. It was also upsetting.

      2. People can lack empathy and we could be the ones who pay the price… all I can say is to stay true to yourself.

  10. I have had psychosis on and off since I was 15. My uncle told me once, “What other people say matters to degree”. Another time he said, “Sometimes you have to don’t give a fuck about what others think”. And it hit me that my beliefs matters as much as their’s

      1. Thanks for your comment! I totally agree: sometimes we need to divorce ourselves from what others think of us.

      2. Thanks. I look forward to read more from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.