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Bipolar Disorder and Delusions

Separating Psychotic Beliefs from Reality


Last week, every time I went outside, it started to rain just slightly. More of a sprinkle than a downpour, but the drops would literally start at the very moment that I walked outside. I was in a strange sort of mood and started reflecting on how much my timing was off with the weather and how maybe it involved a strange coincidence, but didn’t go so far as to think that I controlled the weather patterns.

 

Which is good, because later that same day, I read THIS ARTICLE about the delusions of people with Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, and Schizophrenia. Apparently, one of the most common delusions that people have during psychosis is that they control the weather patterns. As I wrote about HERE, I’ve definitely had more than my share of delusions, but belief in my ability to control weather patterns hasn’t been one of them so far.

 

When you’re in a delusional state, the tendency is for the delusional person to think that everyone else is crazy. This gets old fast; both for the “crazy” person and the friends and family around trying to get help or to understand the seemingly impossible ideas spewing rapidly from the deluded person’s mouth.

 

After a manic episode with psychosis, it’s really hard for me to separate fact from reality because it is so hard to discount everything from an entire experience as nothing more than a delusion. My first instinct with everything that I experience is to try and attach a meaning to it, whether there actually is one or not. If I’ve had a major delusion—like a belief that I can control weather patterns—it’s much easier to credit the belief to psychosis and discount it. However, when I’ve had a spiritual belief or a belief that taught me something valuable about myself, it’s not as easy to chalk up the belief to a delusion.

 

As I’ve written before, most like Richard Dawkins and even some people with Bipolar Disorder claim that everything experienced in a manic episode that is spiritual in nature is the direct result of the parasympathetic nervous system and nothing else. Obviously, I am not a neurologist, so it’s difficult to say what happens in the brain during a manic episode. However, I think it is a definite mistake to discount everything that happens during mania as psychotic nonsense. Many people become attached to a spiritual belief that they think guides them through life and others benefit from knowing the true values of different kinds of thinking, even if the thoughts aren’t so rational at the time.

 

When the mania is gone, take some time to take care of yourself and think about what you experienced; instead of feeling stupid for every idea you ever had, try to understand your thoughts from a rational perspective. You might be surprised about what you learn about yourself.

Image: by flickr user joxin