(This is a blog post I wrote a few years ago that I thought was worth revisiting).
I am seeing a new internal medicine doctor and she asked about my bipolar disorder. She asked if I had hallucinations. I said yes. She said “Auditory or visual?” I told her both – but not recently, recently I am well.
The first hallucinations I experienced were rats and bugs 5 years ago, not long after my diagnosis. I would see them in my parents’ home where I was living at the time – always out of the corner of my eye, in my periphery. I remember specifically the moment a giant cockroach came out from under the closet door in the bathroom and I gave it a final thunk. Blue flip flop to pink tile. But when I lifted my foot there was no bug. You see, there never really was. It was the same with the mice or rats. I would think I would see one scurrying along the floorboards or brazenly across the center of the room. But there were no mice or rats. There was only my mind.
The day my parents drove away for a trip halfway across the country leaving me barefoot in the driveway, the cicadas told me to kill myself.
I didn’t listen.
I was afraid to tell my psychiatrist what was going on. I was afraid of being locked away again, but I nervously told him about the bugs and the rats and he told me it was not uncommon for someone with bipolar disorder to experience hallucinations. That didn’t cure it, an adjustment to my meds did, but it helped me relax a little.
It was 3 years later that I experienced hallucinations again. I was in a mixed episode, one where mania and depression collide, but I was still very much manic. I didn’t sleep the night before. I had been up for over 24 hours. I know now that that is a catalyst for my mania – lack of sleep. I didn’t realize it then.
The first thing I noticed was a patch of brown fur on my ankle. I was very concerned because I didn’t know how it got there or when. I could see it. I could touch it. Then there was this grid in the air. The best way I can describe it is to watch smoke without a breeze. It moves when you push it with your hands or blow on it. But this was lines and shit from geometry class. I was scared. I called my boyfriend into the room and noticed that his hands were made of sawdust, which only further scared me. Then my own hand became coated in tiny dots like tapioca. The coffee table sparkled.
I saw my psychiatrist soon after the hallucinations started and was given a series of Geodone shots and as the episode progressed the hallucinations went away and I haven’t experienced them since. That was 2 years ago.
I’m writing this because maybe you are reading this and you have experienced hallucinations and you are scared. I just want you to know that sometimes this is a part of mania. You need to be able to tell someone if you are seeing or hearing things that don’t seem quite right, to have a plan, because hallucinations can cause you to act in uncharacteristic ways – and I want you safe.
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