I am pleased to host the very first guest entry to ParallelDichotomy! This piece is the first segment of a personal narrative on medication induced psychosis. Written by my friend Lori, this is a first hand account of what she experienced when she began taking a prescribed medication as her doctor ordered. Medication induced psychosis is very rare. If you have concerns about a medication you take, talk to your doctor. Do not stop taking a prescribed medicine without first discussing that decision with your primary care doctor and psychiatrist.
If you have lived through a psychotic episode or episodes, reading this may be uncomfortable. It is a personal account of how Lori’s psychosis manifested.
This is “Part One” and more of Lori’s story (including recovery) will be available at a later date.
With all that said, let’s get on with Lori’s story!
This is so exciting – I’m waiting outside with my family for my new Jaguar to be delivered. Always been my dream sports car, since I saw a beautiful silver E-type, 12 cylinders, in the late 70’s/early 80’s. I assumed the reason that everyone was outside with me was so that they could also listen expectantly for the sound of my approaching car. I kept hearing large trucks and sirens in the distance, yet they never arrived. I remember excitedly telling my daughter about lots of big plans that I had.
You know how well you know your kids; their moods, unique personalities? Something about my middle daughter’s expression led me to realize that she didn’t believe what I was saying, but she was being uncharacteristically diplomatic. I was cognizant enough at that moment to get that, but reality kept slipping away from me.
What I didn’t know then was that they were all gathered around to support me; I couldn’t be left alone, and they set up amongst themselves quite an impressive team to help deal with this new situation.
I’m not aware of the exact moment that this whole saga started horribly unfolding. There are still many gaps that I cannot remember, which I’m assuming, is a good thing. Only my family and their wonderful significant others can fill in the timeline and details that I don’t possess.
What was apparent was that I wasn’t communicating very much, but there was
certainly multiple layers of psychosis happening. Hallucinations morphed and evolved in my brain.
I’ve never done drugs, never even smoked a cigarette; I’m just a social drinker. I’ve always shied away from accepting any strong prescription pain killers. But I am on regular medicine for a chronic health condition. The addition of a supplemental medicine for a week caused things to go scarily downhill, very quickly.
About a month earlier I had started a new medicine to add to my daily regimen, which seemed to be working well for me. I followed doctors orders, and the side effects were minimal.
The next week or so was a blur of internal chaos, blips of lucidity, music, talking to deceased friends and relatives, a conversation with Steve Jobs, and some paranoia.
We don’t have music playing in our office, but I can clearly hear songs that were popular
back in the 1970’s. It wasn’t just snippets of songs, however. It was complete with every note and lyric, exactly as I used to hear on the radio. I look around to see who might be listening to music on a cell phone, but I see no music lovers. This keeps up, I think for a few days. I keep furtively eyeing my co-workers for a plausible answer, but nothing external seems out of the ordinary.
Sometimes a disc jockey’s voice filters in. It all sounds so authentic. Looking back now, a year later, I don’t know why I didn’t immediately start freaking out. But I didn’t. For some reason I just accepted this bizarre development.
I do remember feeling embarrassed. What do I say when my co-workers tell me they hear music emanating from me?
I know that this is not good, but I am primed as always to keep my head down and keep
Later that night, one of the most horrific aspects of my ordeal occurs. I’m in bed, reading.
The internal music is still there, playing over and over in a continuous loop. I haven’t yet
mentioned it to my husband. I’m guessing I was simply hoping that it would go away as
inexplicably as it started.
I am hearing a conversation, word for word, between a female and male. At first I try not to tune in and keep trying to return to my book, but this proves impossible.
“No, this can’t be. Is this what I think it is?” I am silently protesting.
To this day I don’t have much understanding of what was occurring in my brain, but it becomes obvious that I am clearly hearing a verbatim “transcript” of a bad break-up I had with a boyfriend over 34 years ago.
Every word we said was replayed, back and forth. It felt like it would never stop. It was beyond strange and disconcerting to hear my younger voice, and his, and have to unwillingly experience the drama and emotions I believed I had left behind eons ago.
I think of myself as pretty well adjusted. I don’t tend to live in the past. Until this point, I felt that I had successfully moved on many years ago from a difficult, trying childhood and young adulthood. However, I’ve now learned that the brain retains exact memories, as if they were taped and stored away. This still spooks me to this day.
At some point that night, things went from bad to unbearable. The conversation/old tape
changed to a replay of a very bad session with my father. We were arguing about
something, as was typical, and he kept getting more and more hot and crazed. Cue the
physical abuse. The blows kept coming, over and over. Every time I thought it was stopping, it started back up again.
I tried desperately to not hear this terrible scene. I put headphones on and listened to music. I tried my favorite shows on Netflix.
I realized this was beyond my ability to deal with; I finally told my husband what was going on and off we drove to the local hospital.
They gave me some pills to calm things down. I’m back at home, once more trying
to lose myself in a book.
If this was a deranged play that I was writing, at this point the stage directions would cue in the cast of dead family and friends.
I’m really off and running now, into a realm I didn’t know existed.
Thanks for reading! As always, lemme know what you thought! Drop a comment or find me on social media!
If you missed it, I have a new article on The Mighty about the dangerous stigma around mental health hospitalization. Please give it a read!
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