The Meltdown: Decompensating Into A Psychotic Break

Uncategorized May 05, 2019

What follows is a depiction of what it feels like to experience first-hand a full psychotic break. This incident happened in my life about 2 yrs ago now. The last handful of posts described what lead up to it and in my opinion why it happened.

Looking back, the wild part about it, is that I pretty clearly remember almost all of it. There are however, aspects of it that aren’t as vivid to me, a little blurry in retrospect. I will preface this by saying this. Being 2 yrs out and in a very healthy grounded headspace, I am aware that much of what I will describe was 100% in my mind and not real as we know it.

But at the time, in my altered state, it was as real to me as the words I am presently typing. I saw things, heard things, felt things, touched things, smelled things that weren’t actually happening. In short, I lost my mind as I know it and that which I lived through is what I would call hell on earth.

What I will share took place over the span of about 3 months. It started slowly, but progressively over time the true darkness descended upon me. At about 2 months into it, the actual decompensation occurred (where there was no reaching me cognitively speaking), and 2 weeks of hospitalization in a psych ward occurred. I should mention that nowhere in this timeline did suicidal thoughts enter my mind, but where I was mentally during those 2 weeks was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, ever.

I was living a true nightmare. And despite this, with the help of modern medicine, alternative medicine, love, patience, forgiveness, and hardwork, I lived to tell as Madonna would say. I believe all of it was necessary for my soul’s evolutionary arc. And feel it is my mandate to share with others so that we all can learn. Present day I feel more grounded, peaceful, humble, grateful, loving and open than at any time in my life... 🙏

Are there “scars” that remain from this? You bet. But they serve as a reminder to me, to do what I can to live and breathe into the present moment; to do the daily practices that keep my mind, heart and body as healthy as possible, so that I may live, serve and love with all that I am while I’m here on planet earth.

🙏
When it began, my mind and body were overflowing with stress in the form of fear, depression, confusion, anxiety and overwhelm. Insomnia was what came next (I should add that I had had some sleepless nights here and there throughout my life, but nothing that lasted more than 2-3 nights max). My brain wouldn’t shut off, I was tired but wired.

My behavior was changing dramatically. I began to withdraw from everyone and everything. I started to cancel on my clients last minute, I stopped working out and meditating. And with pretty much everyone, I was lying about what was going on. No one, was getting the whole story.

To try to stop the downward spiral, I started seeing a therapist. But that wasn’t working because the “perfectionist” in me couldn’t fully admit what was happening and why. Only half truths were coming out of my mouth everywhere. I remember heading to an appointment one day and a voice inside was repeating the words “the truth shall set you free”, and I knew this was my higher self trying to reach me, but I just wasn’t willing to listen to it. The walls were closing in faster than I knew what to do.

As the insomnia continued, I started to cancel my appointments with the therapist, my work started to suffer as I couldn’t remember sequences to train my clients. I was completely lost. I started calling my brother and sister pretty much daily, talking their ears off for upwards of 2 hrs sometimes, but talking in circles and non-sensically. I arranged to see a doctor to try to get a prescription for sleep meds and anti-anxiety pills. Pretty easily I was able to get them without much inquiry from the doctors about my history. This reality is pretty scary if you ask me. But that’s for another day.

I took the sleep med for about 2 nights but it provided no relief at all, so I stopped it. The sleepless nights continued as did the downward spiral. It was about 3-4 weeks into insomnia at this point and the first round of delusions and paranoia began to hit.

It started with the belief that certain foods and water were contaminated with hallucinogens, so I stopped eating and drinking a lot of foods. I began to think my phone and apartment were tapped, so I started to whisper in all conversations. It was out of control. I continued to show up for work but was really in no shape to be there. But my rational mind was now being overrode by the irrational.

Soon thereafter, without telling anyone, I set up an appointment with a different doctor to get another prescription, this time it was for an anti-depressant and a different sleep aid. Again I took them for about 3 days then quit as I wasn’t experiencing any relief. (Btw most anti-depressants take about 4-6 weeks to start working). I was underwater and drowning fast. My brother and sister talked me into going to the emergency room to ask for help.

They did an assessment but because I wasn’t suicidal, they sent me home. Things kept getting worse. My family finally talked me into flying home to Ohio for triage (round 1). Which I did. While there, I began to believe that I was being watched everywhere I went.

I was convinced that the government had put out a worldwide alert that I was a threat to national security and that it had been sent to everyone’s cell phones with my exact location. (Btw, I wasn’t sharing these thoughts with anyone). I began to believe that my fingernails had stopped growing and that my body was drying up...very little saliva or lubrication in my eyes. I was now certain that all foods were poisoned so I ate very little, yet still ate certain plain cereals and things like peanut butter and bread b/c for some reason I felt they were somewhat ok???

I was becoming pretty agoraphobic and starting to have panic attacks. Yet somehow after a week I decided I had to fly back to LA. The downward spiral continued. I was now convinced that my car was no longer the car I had leased...that someone had come over night and switched it out for another similar car but one that was bugged. When I turned on the radio I heard broadcasts from about 10 years ago (or so I thought) and thought this was done by who ever changed out my car, so I stopped listening. 🙏

(I wanted to remind you that what you’re reading about took place 2 years ago. Through a multi-faceted approach to healing and recovery (inclusive of Western allopathic medicine, Eastern alternative medicine, therapy, meditation, yoga, fitness, breathwork, cold immersion, visioning, love, forgiveness, honesty, patience and time) I am feeling as grounded and fulfilled as I ever have. I firmly believe that which I experienced was absolutely necessary for me to breakthrough some seriously limited beliefs and experience/feel/honor/release unresolved traumas from my past so that I could become the person I was meant to be in this lifetime. (More on this another time)).
🙏
So back to the story..

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...Speaking of bugs, I began to “see” ticks in my apartment and believed they were in my bed, biting me at night. Related to my home, I was convinced someone had gained access to my apartment, was coming in while I wasn’t there and was peeing on the floors and bedspread. They had taken my wallet and had gained access to my identity and tapped into and drained my accounts. I became petrified of my home and saw dirt and grime everywhere.

When I did show up to teach my classes, I’d began to smell a fowl stench coming from my mats. I believed that when my car was “switched out”, someone had covered my mats in a toxic substance. (As I’m writing this I’m realizing that in hindsight, obviously I needed help much, much earlier). Through it all I somehow felt I was ok and that this was now my life.

One day close to when Liz and my family intervened, I remember I was teaching a class (horribly I might add) and I thought the helicopters overhead were hovering overhead so that they could “read my thoughts”. In my mind, I believed they were building a case to lock me up for being a fraud and a monster. I think about 3 weeks had passed since my week trip to Ohio. Behind the scenes, Liz and my family were connecting planning to get me home to Ohio for treatment. At this point, I had sequestered myself in my apartment with the shades drawn.

🙏

That night the auditory hallucinations hit a peak. Through the walls I heard the sound of electric saws and human screams, cries for help. It was horrifying but I was paralyzed. I was frozen. I think part of me knew it was in my head but part wasn’t sure. But I did nothing for about the next 6 hrs or so as it continued.

For some reason, the next morning, I went over and knocked on my neighbors door and asked her if everything was alright and she said yes. I didn’t tell her why I was asking and just walked away back to my dark apartment.

That same day Liz came over to tell me I had a flight to catch that was taking me home to Ohio. And thank God she did, I was confused and scared (and unbeknownst to me, soon to completely lose it. She said she was there to check on me and help me pack and then drive me to the airport.

I had no idea what was going on and even thought Liz wasn’t Liz. Driving to the airport, I tried to open the door numerous times to get out but Liz somehow found a way to keep me there. I can’t even imagine how frightening all of this must have been for Liz.

 

  • You can read all about what the flight back to Ohio was like in my blog post  “My trip On A Rocket Ship”.
     
    So after that read-eye fligh to Ohio, I waited for my sister and brother to pick me up at the airport. As I walked through the airport, I was convinced bugs were flying out of my hair and swarming around my head. I went down to baggage claim and sat on a bench.
     
    I was petrified to enter the bathroom because I was convinced there were people waiting inside to kill me. So I didn’t enter. When my family arrived I was scared of them too. I thought everyone was out to get me now at this point. At first I resisted getting in the car because I thought they were taking me to a remote location where I’d be dropped off and then I was to be killed. But I got in nonetheless, I was resigned to the fact that I needed to go through this pain for some reason.
     
    However in actuality my family were taking me home to get some rest. When we got there, I was convinced there were people waiting in the closet waiting to torcher me. So I stood in the hallway for quite some time. My sister made me some breakfast and brought it to me, but when they put it down, I “saw” bugs flying from my hair and burrowing into the food, so I refused to eat.
     
    Next I was convinced the bugs continued to fly out of my hair but now we’re burrowing into the wood floor and into my face and my family members faces as well. Behind the scenes, the plan had been to have me see a psychiatrist at 2 pm that day. But due to the extreme nature of my behavior, my sister knew we couldn’t wait that long. They decided to take me to the emergency room.
     
    On the way there, I was convinced all my family had been drugged and were falling asleep. Nothing made sense any longer. As soon as we got to the hospital they took me to a room and closed the door. While in there I was scared to death, thinking that I was now awaiting a torturing session which would eventually lead to my death. Of course this wasn’t the case...
     
    Pretty quickly they made the decision that I needed to be “pink slipped” (held under supervision for at least 72 hours). They moved me to another room shortly thereafter and had me wait. Soon thereafter the auditory hallucinations began again.
     
    The sound of saws and human screams filled my ears and I flipped out, running out of the room trying to figure out where they were coming from. They caught me and brought me back to the room but I tried to run again, so literally 5-7 people held me down as I fought them, and then they strapped me to the bed. Then they gave me a shot of something to calm me down. I fell asleep.
     
    When I woke up, I was in the psych ward in a robe. For the next 2 weeks this was my home. Their diagnosis was that I had experienced major depression culminating in a single episode psychosis. They began to administer some medication to get me back to planet earth, (2 initially). Though resistant to it, I agreed to take them. The next 2 weeks, it was more of the same (because these meds take time to work)...still very little sleep, tons of paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.
     
    I was hearing voices, and my mind had created an elaborate story about what was going on...
 
I imagined they were making a reality show about my experience and that it was being streamed live to everyone I ever knew. In my mind, I was the laughing stock for everyone. And I thought people were flying in from all over the country to watch my room from secret screening rooms.
 
For the first week and a half I ate nothing because I thought there were bugs in everything. At night, I thought they were trying to suffocate me by shutting off the air and pumping in heat. Additionally, I every night I thought helicopters were flying outside my window and keeping an eye on me.
 
At a certain point each night, I felt the room shake and believed what was about to happen was that they floor was going to open up and I was going to fall into an incinerator. It was horrifying. So most nights, I would pace the hallways because I was afraid to go into my room.
 
Now here’s the “crazy” thing about all this, I didn’t share what I was experiencing with anyone there. More hallucinations continued, I believed that the staff was in on all this.
 
There was a night or two when I thought they had released a monster onto the floor. It was a killing machine that waited in a specific room for anyone to come in. When they did, it would tear them apart limb by limb. The next morning, one of the staff would clean up the room and go on with business as usual until the next night when it would happen again. I remember one night hiding in the closet because I thought the monster was stalking me.
 
Just about at the 2 week mark, the hallucinations and delusions lessened some and because I wasn’t suicidal, they agreed to release me to my sister’s care but I was to participate in an outpatient partial -hospitalization program. This met Mon-Fri from 9 am-2:30 pm. In addition I was to meet with a psychiatrist about every 2 weeks.
 
Truth is, I only went to the program about 3 times over 3 weeks. I refused to go and laid in bed about 20 hrs a day. I did however meet with the psychiatrist and he now had me on 4 meds (2 anti-psychotics, 1 anti-anxiety and 1 anti-depressant). The 4 weeks after I left the psych ward I felt pretty hopeless. The doctors had told my family that it can take up to 6 weeks for the meds to kick in. And they were right. I remember the day the clouds lifted and a light went on. The road to recovery could now begin.
 
Adam
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