I’ve just discovered that The Times published a wonderfully insightful and moving account of psychosis from a young woman diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.
Schizoaffective disorder is a diagnosis that indicates that the person experiences symptoms of both schizophrenia-like psychosis, and a serious mood disorder such as depression or bipolar.
The author of the article is Philippa King, who has been affected by mental illness since her childhood and experienced and continues to experiences intense hallucinations and delusions.
Her account is a striking commentary on both the mental health system and the experience of otherworldly states.
“You’re such a fool, a loser, idiot! They know your every move.” The voices I hear are abusive and critical. They can also be bizarre: “We are stoplights”, “You’re just cheap chocolate”, “Crazy lazy point-blank bicycle‚Äù. They produce a running commentary on my day-to-day actions or talk about me to each other. “Slash your wrist!” Worn down by the commands, I do as they say. I wrote in my diary: “It will be important to break the language barrier so all will underwater the manage the message.” I once sewed nine buttons on to my sleeve because someone said “nine or so” in conversation. It seemed terribly important to do so. It is not uncommon for people with schizophrenia like me to make up new words.
It distresses me that my thoughts are broadcast on the radio.
My DNA contains the whole of the Milky Way. I am constantly being pursued by enemies and lovers. I have scissored a mark from my skin, knowing it to be a tracking device planted by the Government. There are no locks, no devices to prevent intruders of the mind. There can be the frightening sensation of insects crawling beneath my skin. My food can suddenly turn into maggots. The round of my skull is the dome of the heavens with the world moving both inside and outside my head.
This is a remarkably lucid account of psychosis and a must-read for those interested in how the mind drifts into altered-realities during severe mental illness.