Truth stranger than fiction

At times when experiencing disturbing ‘paranoid’ thoughts, how reassuring it was to have trusted and trusting friends who did not deny my sense of reality. They might well have doubted some of the content of my conversation!

Entrusting my thoughts to the psychiatrist who was responsible for my treatment plan was hard. I’d had no previous contact with him, neither had I any previous psychiatric history. Despite working within mainstream constraints he was kindly and willing to concede ‘a kernel of truth’ is always present in ‘bizarre’ thinking, this proved a comfort to me. Although the state of mind I was in proved chaotic I managed to keep some things ‘close to my chest’. The saying ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ applied, had I entrusted him with  the ‘whole truth’ of  the events I’d experienced, and which led me in to his presence, I might well have appeared more bizarre, whatever that means. This might have led to receiving a different diagnosis, as it was the label, ‘ bi-polar 1’, was ‘attached’…..yes, the DSM considers there are differing types! “Oh!” I thought, “I’ve only got grade 1”, after looking at the criteria for them, I considered I’d rather have been a 2 or 3,….. preferably none.

Over the last 11 years  I’ve been trying to find ways  how  best to describe the experience of breakdown. Events surrounding the onset of the first ‘blip’ were  overwhelmingly out of the context of my usual everyday experience. The process of breaking ‘down/up/through’ patterns of thought enabled me to reorder and process  them. My existing preferred mode of being had become untenable, no longer useful. How I wish there had been a system in place that allowed this to happen with limited use of medication or electro-convulsive therapy.

Years before I’d seen someone close to me receive a psychiatric label, it was only in recent that the diagnosis was revoked. The person’s current psychiatrist was of the opinion that schizophrenia, was an outdated  term, and that it had  previously been used ‘conveniently’  to categorise  and lump together people with serious social problems. In addition this  psychiatrist also saw no point in the prolonged use of  medication for my loved one’s ‘psychotic’  symptoms. However enlightened and progressive this particular doctor is, and I believe he is not a lone voice, other support professionals working alongside him continued to use those terms in connection with my loved one. It has  not engendered my trust in services.

If someone becomes vulnerable for whatever reason, retaining a healthy dose of skepticism for those who exert influence on their well being might be a useful defense.

4 thoughts on “Truth stranger than fiction

  1. It’s really interesting when you say ‘I’ve been trying to find ways to describe the experience’. I feel the same way about my ‘altered states’. No theory I’ve found so far really fits. I think one of the biggest breakthroughs in mental health in recent times has been the Hearing Voices Network where people who have the experiences and helpers (including doctors and nurses) work together to find explanations for voices, and what works to stop their more damaging effects. (It’s amazing how many different stories there are! You might almost think people are unique!) I think that’s how it should work – everyone on the same side. Despite all the talk of ‘involvement’ and ‘consultation’, I don’t think people who use services have anything like an equal voice, even about our own experience.


    • I like the term ‘altered states’ to describe my break through in awareness of a need to re-arrange my life and thoughts, along those lines the work of Stanislav Grof and John Rowan about the Transpersonal was helpful in making ‘sense’ of the experience, perhaps though the term ‘breakdown’ is in most common usage…….I feel a blog coming on…. As regards the imbalance in power of those consulting users of services, perhaps it’s a case of “Mene, mene, tekel and upharsin”? Is the wall a suitable place to write?


  2. A very moving blog post. You explain things well… I connected with ‘I managed to keep some things ‘close to my chest’.’ I could empathise with this and kind of imagine being in this position… throughout the chaos… a little part of you still in control. I wondered if this was stressful for you? The act of keeping things close to your chest. Of course many many times I manage to keep things close to my chest, although perhaps not in the same situation.


    • I do appreciate both comments, that intrinsic sense of self, a need to retain some control was a survival techniques, however it didn’t protect me from the bombardment of treatment with a large variety of different meds and electro convulsive therapy! I had bad physical reactions to some meds and had to be taken off them ‘cold turkey’…..significant errors were made by those administering meds, despite the consultants warnings about what I shoudn’t be given……I had been given something which made me ‘higher’ than I already was!!


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