Real or Not Real?
Some people who struggle with the challenges of bipolar also experience psychosis in the form of delusions. There might be a feeling, or a sense that, although you feel quite strongly about your belief, things just aren’t feeling like they “add up”. Or you might secretly feel like you are in a strange place, in between the dream world and the “real world”. It is not uncommon to find yourself asking yourself secretly, “Am I delusional?”; especially if you are having difficulty telling the difference between what is real, and what is not real.
There is a difference between a strongly felt belief, that may even be odd (but possibly true), and believing something that is not real. For example, a person may believe that his or her spouse is cheating on them, even though the spouse is always home when the person comes home from work, and always answers the phone when called, denies the accusation, and there is no evidence of such a situation. This is an example of a non-bizarre delusion. It is non-bizarre, because it is something that does happen in the “real word”, but is extremely unlikely to be happening this this person’s life and there is allot of evidence that it is not happening. Or, a person might have a bizarre delusion that is nearly impossible to happen; for example believing that one is a double agent who is being tracked by the government with a chip implant inside his or her head. This is bizarre because this does not happen in the “real world”. To further clarify what a delusion is, Below is the updated DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel) definition of a delusion. (This is the manual that Psychologists and Psychiatrists use to make diagnosis).
Delusions are fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. Their content may include a variety of themes (e.g. persecutory, referential, somatic, religious, grandiose).[…] Delusions are deemed bizarre if they are clearly implausible and not understandable to same-culture peers and do not derive from ordinary life experiences. […] The distinction between a delusion and a strongly held idea is sometimes difficult to make and depends in part on the degree of conviction with which the belief is held despite clear or reasonable contradictory evidence regarding its veracity.
Very, very good people carry with them, very scary and frightening beliefs that things are happening to them that are not true.
- If your belief changes after medication, then the belief was likely a delusion.
- If several people have confronted you with concern, telling you that you are not thinking clearly, trying to convince you of “the truth”, it is possible that you are experiencing a delusion.
- If you have expressed behaviors that caused undesired consequences as a result of a firmly held belief, there is good reason to question your belief.
You may have been told that your belief about something in your life is not true. You may even hope or wish that it were not true. If you have been presented with evidence that your belief is not true, or people have reasonably argued with you, consider taking one more step in checking out your belief system. My next blog is for people who have been told by their mental health professional that their beliefs may not be true and want to know what to do now.
Look For : What If It Isn’t True?
If You Are Told That You Are Delusional-Do This
(pub on Sat Feb 28)
Future blogs will provide ideas for caregivers as well.
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