Friday 3 August 2018

When you have to tell your children that you're psychotic!

For a long time now I knew a day would come that I would have to explain my mental health more to the children.
I have never hidden away the fact that I have mental health issues and many of you would know that I have spoken quite openly about it on this blog.

A Dependant Personality Disorder is a difficult thing to live with at times. Connections, relationships, routines, places and objects all become a place where I can create attachment and dependant ties. If one or more of these get changed or disrupted then it triggers the emotional instability within me.
Once triggered you suddenly feel emotions with greater ease, depth and for a longer time than others do. With the core characteristic of affective instability, which generally manifests as unusually intense emotional responses, and then with a slower return to a baseline emotional state that most people experience; whilst engaging in idealization and devaluation of others, alternating between high positive regard for people and great disappointment in them.

It is difficult to go through and when you return to “normal” it seems like a shadow or ghost version of who you really are.
Today, however, I don’t want to talk about my D.P.D. Instead, I wanted to discuss another part of my mental health; PTSD and my hallucinations and delusional thoughts.

I have always had some hallucinations. Growing up I would see physical people that weren’t there or that others couldn’t see.
As a child I quickly realised that no one else saw the same recurring people that I saw. Although I would see some random lights and people there were also regular people that I would see and hear.

When I realised that no one else could see them I realised I was different. I ended up going quiet and withdrew into myself. I could hear them, see them and just be quiet.
The irony of being a 17 year old boy and watching The Sixth Sense and hearing the young Haley Joel Osment utter the words “I see dead people” and relate to him, was that me?

Two of the recurring visitors were dead. I knew that. I had described them enough to my mum for her to go pale white and tell me that they had died so I must be mistaken. I wasn’t. I saw them. The third recurring visitor was a man.
He was the one that scared me the most. The one who would scream, threaten and attempt to be violent. Yet, no one else saw him.

I found ways to record what I was seeing. I would draw and paint the man that I have always seen. Yet no one would know who he was when I showed or discussed him.
That was until I opened my adoption folder and saw my birth Step-dad. It was him.

It was only when I had my breakdown, saw professionals and received professional help that I understood what was going on; I had suffered a level of PTSD and the psychotic hallucinations were a part of that.
I was abused and beaten that much as a baby that I could see the man that did it. He would stand in doorways, scream abuse, threaten me  and, at night time, that space between being awake and asleep I would see him the most.

The ladies that I saw both had links to traumatic events throughout my childhood. The old lady, hung by a noose, outside my window was my adopted Nan. I witnessed, at a very young age, her death. She died in care of me and as a child I was helpless to assist so just watched her bleed out.
The other, incredibly scary lady, was my adopted Great Aunt. She would never knock on the door but instead look, glaring through the window until someone had seen her waiting. She was a terrifying woman to look upon and when I was first adopted, left in the lounge, she was  one of the first people that I saw; a sight that would scare you even as an adult I have been told.

I was told in the hospital that I was having “positive” psychotic symptoms. (I never knew there was a difference between positive and negative but there is) Positive psychotic symptoms are characterized by the presence of unusual feelings, thoughts, or behaviours. This includes experiences such as hallucinations or delusions.
It was described that traumatic events are most commonly related to the experience of psychotic symptoms. The events that put people most at risk include being involved in a natural disaster, seeing someone injured or killed, or experiencing shock as a result of a traumatic event that happened to a loved one. I had all of these.

Due to this I am on an extremely high dose of an antipsychotic. These help prevent the random psychotic events but don’t always stop me seeing the three recurring characters; especially if my D.P.D has been triggered.
I did, growing up, find ways to adjust and deal with them. I would close solid doors and shut the man out.  If  in or visiting a home where  curtains would be I had them closed so I couldn’t see out of them and when they needed to be opened I got someone else to do it for me.

This then brings me full circle to the introduction to the post. The boys asked me why I had always done these things and, in addition, got them to do the things that I couldn’t.
I thought long and hard about it and decided that the time was right to tell them.

How could I tell them though that I was crazy? Saw people that didn’t exist? Tell them what I see and hear when they scare me? Or, tell them about the things I went through as a child that led me to see the man?
Surprisingly it came quit easy. I told them that these people I see aren’t real. They weren’t ghosts. They were just things that only I see. I told them that I went through horrible things as a baby and a small child that I am thankful that they never need to experience but it was so bad that my brain doesn’t let me forget. They shouldn’t worry because I have a big box of tablets next to my bed that helps keep daddy, daddy.

They seemed to understand. They got that I need some help from them and equally they can just carry on as normal because they already help me in areas of my life due to my FSHD.
Mental health can be a tricky minefield to tackle by yourself let alone discuss with children. Yet, it is my opinion, that talking freely about it all at an age appropriate level will allow them to grow up in a world knowing that mental health is just another type of health without a big scary taboo.


  1. Well done for telling them, it shouldn't be taboo and great that they understand mental health in just the same way as physical health. I didn't know you had hallucinations. Just so I understand completely, do you see outrageous things that blatantly aren't real like correctly written tweets, blog posts that make sense and quiche recipes containing eggs???

  2. This is so sad to read about your time as a baby, and I think it just goes to show just how much your brain can process and take in as a small child - especially when those events are particularly hard or shocking. You are right to be open with your boys about mental health - it’s so important they grow up feeling that it is ok to talk about it

  3. You are such a great dad...I think the best thing you can be with your children is honest! They will grow up more accepting of people with mental health problems and that is fantastic. x

  4. thank you sharing this, i can't imagine how difficult it would have been to have grown up with all that. But I think it's a really positive thing to get to a place where you feel able to share this with your kids too, that's a positive story in itself.

  5. Very moving post, I hope I am as honest and open with my kids (I try to be!) - you are an inspiration.x

  6. What a great post. Thank you for sharing. I too have childhood PTSD together with bipolar. We have not yet told my kids about my mental health but I imagine that day will come soon.

  7. This was really insightful to read and could help explain a lot of my sister's MH issues. I found your blog via the #bibs shortlist - good luck!

    1. Thank you and I'm pleased you found me via the list. I'm pleased that it helped. :)