Psychotic Depression

Psychotic Depression

For those of you who don’t know about my latest project Stolentime, I’m going to give you a gist of what this thing is about.

Gene White is a suicidal teen rescued by an eccentric puppeteer who takes Gene to a world far removed from his own. Fairytales are no longer in one’s imagination in this place, but for Gene, this means being stalked by the demons in his head, mainly a man in a gold suit who threatens to destroy Gene’s already imbalanced mind.

There are young adult books out there that deal with mental illness, but it is either an undiagnosed mental illness or if it is diagnosed, it’s oftentimes depression. There are very few books where the teen knows the diagnosis and fully understands what having this diagnosis means. What’s more is that there are very few young adult MAINSTREAM novels on other severe mental illnesses: schizophrenia, panic disorder, shizo affective disorder, bipolar disorder, ect…

Usually these illnesses only exist in other characters who are not the protagonist. What’s more is that these illnesses are often stigmatized in the protagonist’s mind because depression is arguably an uninteresting illness and makes the person seem sane compared to the person experiencing hallucinations or a bipolar depressive episode with psychotic features. So while I have made Gene depressed, I decided to take it a step further and diagnose him with psychotic depression not just for the added darkness, but because Gene is taken to a world where he must suspend his disbelief but is having a hard time doing so because he regularly hears and sees things.

We take it for granted that characters are just going to accept these fantastical things they are presented with, especially if they live in a world where that’s not common at all, but I wanted to ask the question, “Well, what if they don’t?”

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So if you hallucinate in psychotic depression, how does this differ from schizophrenia? Well, with schizophrenia, you’re often not depressed, and if you are, the depression is a symptom, not the actual syndrome. So Gene has suffered for a while hearing and seeing things. In fact, they can become so real for Gene that he gets lost in the hallucination and can’t even remind himself that it’s not real since his senses are so overloaded with wrong brain signals. If Gene weren’t depressed, he wouldn’t be experiencing hallucinations. This is not so in someone with schizophrenia.

I’ve had mild psychosis when I was depressed and in a mixed episode–mostly delusions and paranoia–but it’s common in bipolar depression and mixed episodes and doesn’t warrant another diagnosis. But what Gene goes through is flat out dangerous.

In the first chapter, Gene is hallucinating a shadow with a dagger. He begs this shadow to kill him because none of his methods have worked, but the shadow goes away. His mom comes in for a little bit to comfort him, but Gene is still undergoing some serious psychosis, which eventually prompts him to run away from home. Before he even leaves the house, he sees the shadow with the dagger again, so readers at this point know just how dangerous it is for Gene to be leaving his own house.

Now I don’t just touch upon the aspects of psychosis, which Gene is very aware of when it at first begins, but I do touch upon the aspects of depression, which he is also very aware of for someone his age. But he doesn’t know why he’s depressed. But he does mention he’s heard voices since he was a child but was eventually able to drown them out with thoughts of his own. That isn’t so anymore, and he doesn’t understand why.

So I ultimately chose psychotic depression because I really wanted to write a self-aware teen who understands all aspects of depression, while demolishing the trope that the main character knows what he/she heard/saw. These characters never stop to question if they’ve just been hallucinating, especially because they’ve never seen these fantastical things before in their lives. They just accept them, but not Gene.

 

What should I do if my boyfriend is diagnosed with Schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder?

What should I do if my boyfriend is diagnosed with Schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder?

This is really cruel advice. Are we suddenly unlovable because of our illnesses? Are we suddenly not worthy of attention, affection, or love because of a chance of relapses? What are you trying to get at by telling people to abandon us?

This advice sickens me. If you really think you can’t handle a relationship with a mentally ill person, fine, but to tell everyone to leave us mentaly ill sufferers is cruel and damning. I wouldn’t have been able to survive my bipolar depression without my fiancé and he not once ever considered me a burden because he loves me. And I am the same with him when he finds himself depressed from time to time.

I am treated, I am stable, I have value, I am worthy of love and attention, and I deserve someone who is willing to love me no matter what, and I have found that with my fiancé.

So what this person should really do is assess whether or not he/she is strong enough to handle the difficulties. If you really love your boyfriend, you’ll stick around. If not, leave, you don’t deserve him anyway. Your boyfriend deserves someone who is willing to stick around in spite of the difficulties, and if you can’t do that, then leave. Bye-bye. You won’t be missed. Now unless your boyfriend is unwilling to seek help that is a different story, but if he is doing all he can and you’re not willing to help, he won’t be missing much.

Maniac Fire

By Anonymous

I as a person with bipolar disorder.  I would tell you to break up with your boyfriend, heartbreaking as that would be, if you are in a relationship that could potentially lead to marriage.

Bipolar and schizophrenia are such seriously disruptive disorders that it is absolutely certain that you will endure major difficulties and will watch your boyfriend suffer– it is a permanent illness and while managing the condition is very possible, a great many sufferers lapse in taking their (vital) medications.

Your relationship will be strained; life will not be very much fun over long-ish stretches of time.  Your boyfriend’s capacity to work may well be hampered.  I think most sufferers would agree that these are really, really tough chronic illnesses.  You are young, and free, and will have the opportunity for a straight-forward relationship with another man.  Get out now.

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