Life Events Cause Psychosis: The Further Adventures of an Aspiring Psychonaut

Corinna West
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I just wanted to do a brief followup on my last blog post about my latest psychotic break adventure. I am a recent Psychonaut exploring the inner workings of the mind, and finding out what was my reality versus Consensus reality.

A week later, I started to come out of the experience. It is like waking from a dream. Questioning one’s self is a standard part of this process of coming back to consensus reality — at least for me.  It’s good to reconsider some of the conclusions I’ve come to in the last month or so, when some of my inputs may have not been a part of consensus reality. But I’m getting stronger.

Keep in mind, I did not seek help for the psychosis. I merely find it a nuisance, so I sought “help,” or psych drugs — which only some people define as helpful — for the lack of sleep and the suicidal thoughts, and the meltdowns I was having.

I drew a picture to show you what, at least in my experience, causes psychosis. I have a blog on the Wellness Wordworks site (that I used to maintain before I was injured) called “Emotional Distress Causes Psychosis,” because it’s not the other way around. It’s not like a disease process causes psychosis, and the psychosis causes the emotional distress. The research is pretty clear that the distress causes the psychosis. So now I have a chance to fit my conclusions to my data just like the pharmaceutical industry does.  And it’s good to see concrete examples of how life events cause psychosis.

So what started this off about six weeks ago was a nutritional supplement; namely, iodine supplements. They had been super helpful earlier in my injury. a lot of data on Dr. David Brownstein’s website supports their use. But I realized they started revving me up and I got off them. So after 2 weeks of being revved up I had some fatigue built up and made a bad decision at a party.

Now I love marijuana. It is my first substance of choice. Followed, in this order, by sugar, nicotine, chocolate, alcohol, then caffeine. It is interesting to rank your substances of choice. And quite often the thing that’s number one on your list will cause problems, whereas things that are number two three and four are more likely to be controllable. And I have found this to be true for pot. It makes me mean, and it makes me revved way to up. I know it helps other people, but not me. I believe that so much that I have smoked my last-ever marijuana at least 50 times. I have decided to never ever use it again. I’m sure some of you have made decisions like this.

But it had been about 3 years of not smoking it and I was getting bummed about my eye therapy not working right, and someone said “hey maybe this would help your eyes” and I thought; “hey, why not? Nothing else is. F*** it. Might as well try.”

So that was the number 2 chemical input that caused much more revving-up of my system. I got caught in a feedback loop of “the less I sleep, the less I can sleep.”

The third input was that the vision therapy actually did start working, and my eyes fused. That means that after 2 years of the two eyes not working together, all of a sudden they started working together. People on other websites that talk about vision therapy say sometimes they wish they could go back to one-eyed vision. That binocular vision is overwhelming. My eye doctor said that a lot of times when people see with both of their eyes for the first time they cry, the emotions are so strong. And vision uses about 60% of the brain area, so going from 30% to 60% is a big jump in demand And indeed I was overwhelmed.

And if I look at my timetable I see that the meltdowns started exactly at the time that 2 eyed vision came back. At that point, however, I was so over fatigued from being revved up and not being able to sleep that it caused all these meltdowns. And at that point I realized I could get some temporary help from the meltdowns. I realized I had had some suicidal thoughts for a bit also coming from the fatigue, and the lack of sleep was starting to become a problem I needed to address. So those three things were red flags that it might be a good time to get some (so-called) help.

I realized that, talked to my brain-injury coach. She agreed, so I started entering the mental health system. And that was extremely retraumatizing, as I detailed in my last post: actually getting the help caused the psychosis.

So now I have to convince the doctor that I wasn’t getting help for the psychosis; I was getting help for the meltdowns and the lack of sleep. But I will do that, I am good at convincing doctors. I will come back off the meds in about 2 weeks and life will go on. Because like Duane from Discover & Recover says; psychosis is an event, not a person, and this is what caused my event. Not a disease process, but some life situations. This is a temporary thing and sometimes it might help to use some temporary drugs, AND it doesn’t require drugs, AND it doesn’t require mental health labels.

In fact my friend told me to get my drugs from the brain injury doctor. But like I told my friend; though the mental health doctors only know about half the story of Psych drugs, the brain injury doctors only know about 10%. So it will be nice when more psychiatrists catch on that life events cause psychosis; that emotional distress causes psychosis, and not the other way around. And it will be nice when we as a society can help people through gaps in consensus reality with tools besides labels. And when the drug use can be fully informed.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Corinna
    I follow your journey and I believe that you are taking responsibility for your own ups and downs with recovery in a unique way. So many people blame others and become enraged to the point that they lose sight of what the goal is; to find ways to live a gratifying life and share these strategies and insights with others. Again, you are amazing in the way that you put resources together, either reach out or do it on your own and always take responsibility for the outcome. Much praise from me and continue to inform us.

    • Healthy and happy people assume responsibilities after, not before, they decide when they’re going to hand these responsibilities over to the people who are, or should be, the next people to deal with these worries and this unfinished business. Your use of the word “blame” suggests that you don’t believe “some people” have the right to do this, or else that they aren’t using this right wisely. Maybe they’re not, but there are way too many laypeople and mental health professionals who believe that Mad people shouldn’t be able to place limits on the responsibilities they encumber themselves with, just like everyone else does. I don’t mean to suggest that *you* are one such mental health professional, but please try to remember to give all people, not “some people” the interpersonal responsibility talk prior to giving them the personal responsibility talk.

  2. Thank you for your honest sharing, I appreciate it very much. I agree that life events cause psychosis, it has nothing to do with any kind of illness. However, I’m not going to hold my breath until psychiatrist come to this conclusion themselves. For them to do so will require a total shift in thinking which will cause a probably change in lifestyle and it will hit them in their wallets. Few of them are willing to do this kind of evaluation and taking on of a shift in understanding.

  3. Corinna,
    You do a great service to share your experiences. It helps to read of someone using guts and real intelligence to make sense of, and grow stronger from, powerful and scary experiences. You model for all of us what the open dialogue people call “tolerance of uncertainty” – a euphemism for keeping a cool head even when your head doesn’t feel cool at all, and continuing to think. I love your “aspiring psychonaut” – it reminds me of my significant other’s tee shirt “keep calm and surf on,” and my favorite mantra, “disaster as opportunity.” They put the focus where it should be: we are human beings, not victims or lab specimens – we can hold on, think and solve our problems. Our minds are intact and functioning even when things get confusing and terrifying.

    I got a concussion about the same time you got hurt. through a combination of being 69 years old and brushing it off like I did when I was 20, I’m still dealing with some relatively minor – but important to me – damage. It has been hard, but also interesting, to keep thinking even when the thing you’re thinking with is hurt.

    One question – you refer to “meltdowns.” If you want to, I’m interested in knowing what you mean by that. There are some kinds of “meltdowns” I definitely would not want to have. But others – if you have trusted people to be with you and reassure you, and help you pull out of them when you need to – can be an important part of working through confusing and frightening feelings. Just a thought.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience.

    • Corinna, to piggyback on what Peter just said, thank you for sharing your recent experience and using it to educate and help others. It would be wonderful if people could just free themselves off medications once and for all and live happily ever after, but as we all know, that does not always work out that way. Your story is a powerful reminder that stress and trauma is all around us and setbacks or relapses do happen. But as you so eloquently demonstrate, a relapse is merely a detour or a temporary setback; it is not a defeat or failure. A relapse is most certainly not proof that “you needed the meds” or that “your underlying illness is manifesting itself without the meds.” The key is to be aware, in charge, and able to to make informed choices and decisions. Just as you are doing. Thank you again and best wishes for a speedy and complete healing and recovery.

  4. Corinna,
    This is something people need to hear. Psychosis is not a disease causing anything. Severely distressing life events or situations cause hallucinations, delusions, severe depression, paranoia, etc.

    Life, when it’s very bad, causes psychosis.

    As Stephen Gilbert said, psychiatrists will rarely be able to recognize this. For them, the choice is:

    1) Shift to a non-disease, hopeful understanding of psychosis and risk losing 100s of thousands of dollars per year.
    2) Maintain the lies about a genetic, brain-based basis for “psychotic illness” and keep profiting off drugging helpless patients.

    Not a hard choice, especially given that when you haven’t worked in depth with psychotic people and understood them as individuals, you may not even be aware that they could fully recover, i.e. that they don’t in fact have a lifelong brain disease. In this regard the vast majority of psychiatrists are truly ignorant about psychosis.

    As I’ve stated before, individuals suffering psychotic “symptoms” should avoid psychiatrists and psych hospitals wherever possible, given that neuroleptic use and the disease-model branding (you’re a “schizophrenic”) frequently continues long-term and reduces the odds of recovery. If possible, people experiencing psychosis should seek psychotherapy from a non-neuroleptic non-psychiatric therapist, and seek help from other individuals and peer resources outside the psychiatric system.

  5. Sorry to hear about your recent health concerns, Corinna, hope you recover quickly. I agree psychosis is an event, not a “lifelong, incurable, genetic mental illness,” as my former psychological and psychiatric practitioners claimed. And I would like to point out that the psychiatric drugs, especially the neuroleptics in my case, do cause psychosis, too, so absolutely they are not “wonder drug” cures for psychosis, as the psychiatrists have deluded themselves and humanity into believing.

    In my case, the adverse effects of a (unbeknownst to me at the time) paranoid of a nonexistent malpractice suit PCP administered NSAI, a synthetic opiod, and the common withdrawal symptoms of a supposedly “safe smoking cessation med” (SNRI) caused odd dreams and thoughts. All my doctors claimed this bad drug cocktail could never cause the (now seemingly possibly prophetic, ironically) dreams and concerns. And these adverse drug cocktail induced dreams and thoughts were declared “psychosis,” by a therapist named Barbara Grace. Dreams are not actually “psychosis,” however, if they were, everyone would be “psychotic.”

    Barb, who, unbeknownst to me at the time but according to her medical records which I picked up later, was basing her assessment of me solely upon lies and gossip from some people who had sexually abused one of my children and denied my other child a baptism, this baptism denial occurred on the morning of 9.11.2001. So I was dealing with stress due to a sick pastoral / child molester bullying situation at that time too, and disgust at 9.11.2001. But I was in denial of the sexual abuse then, so didn’t realize the motive for the ELCA pastoral / child molester bullying, and subsequent gaslighting based on this pastor’s friend, Barb’s “bipolar” misdiagnosis.

    My first actual “psychosis” occurred just two weeks after a child’s dose, .5mg, of Risperdal was added to the existing bad drug cocktail. This terrifying “psychosis” was of a spiritual nature, one where God supposedly expressed His extreme anger at the 9.11.2001 event. Although, He also reminded me of how He had always sent a hero to save me any time I ran into a bad situation. He wanted to know if I’d follow Him no matter what, even to hell. Being just a God fearing and loving person, who was terrified by what literally felt like God’s wrath, during this first neuroleptic induced “psychosis,” I agreed to follow God, even to hell.

    And that’s what the neurologist I switched to next gave me (the Risperdal prescribing psychiatrist thought the cure for this extremely adverse reaction to the Risperdal was to double the amount of the Risperdal, so I left him) – the neurologist iatrogenically created hell on earth for me. This neurologist, Rob Kohn, created “psychosis” – I got the “voices” of the man and woman at whose home my child had been abused, and their baptism denying pastor in my head bragging about their crimes against my children incessantly – for three and a half years. Rob was able to create this drug induced hell on earth via various different anticholinergic toxidrome inducing drug cocktails; although of course misnamed this anticholinergic toxidrome “bipolar.” I would imagine it is likely that a great deal of the so called “bipolar” and “schizophrenia” in our society today is in reality varying degrees of antidepressant and antipsychotic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome.

    I was eventually able to get a “Dr.#22” (possibly my PCP’s husband, who I learned later was the “attending physician” at the “bad fix” surgery on a broken bone of mine) in my PCP’s practice to allow me to go off the NSAI. And then I was able to encourage Rob to wean me off the rest of his drugs, although Rob never confessed any of his mind altering drugs could ever have any adverse effects whatsoever except increased thirst. The evil psychotomimetic “voices” went away after I was taken off the drugs, thank God. And some nurses and doctors in my PCP’s office did become disgusted by my PCP and her husband eventually, likely due to their overseeing of all these anticholinergic intoxication syndrome poisonings. They handed over my family’s medical records, including the medical evidence of the child abuse.

    But the problem with getting weaned off such psychotropic drugs is that one can later suffer from a drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis, as one’s brain heals from the prior chemical assault. None of my doctors forewarned me or my husband of this, however. And I did suffer from such a drug withdrawal induced manic psychosis, although this “psychosis” was neither terrifying or stupid and obnoxious, like the previous two types of “psychoses.”

    This so called “psychosis” functioned for me as an awakening to the story of my dreams, and was actually largely really cool. It took the form of a mid life crisis reflection on all the wonderful people I’d known in my life, recollections brought on by music lyrics – I did lots of dancing, bike riding, gardening, “chasing cars” with staggeringly serandipidous vanity plates during this summer of “psychosis.” Different songs reminded me of different friends and former teachers, all of whom wanted to save me. Although Kohn and friends wanted to still destroy me to cover up their crimes, so their “psychosis voices” would declare me to be “irrelevant to reality” incessantly, a phrase Kohn also had written in his medical records to describe me.

    During this “psychosis,” I was introduced to the theory that there is a collective unconscious, a web of connectivity, that connects all of humanity – and supposedly I had created this web of connectivity within our subconciousnesses with nicknames / websites like Someone Else, Anyone Else, Nothing Else, Everyone Else, etc., etc. Everyone asks for something else at some point in their lives. I also awoke one morning with what felt like a tornado of brain zaps, the explanation for this was that supposedly my subconscious mind could express information to others in this web of subconscious connectivity via these brain zaps. I later learned the Mormons have a theory similar to this. And I was “giving it away, giving it away, giving it away.” I was supposedly giving away all that I’d learned within this theoretical collective unconscious, so others could help research and get this wisdom onto the real life World Wide Web. I’d also, likely because my father had been a banker, supposedly kept track of everyone’s financial debts as well.

    This “psychosis” / awakening was very odd, although it did not prevent me from accomplishing my work at the time, so it was really was not a problem. Until this drug withdrawal induced psychosis resulted in a sleep walking / showering / talking issue one night, and my husband had called the paramedics because I wanted to beat rush hour and drive to Chicago early one morning. I awoke when the paramedics got there and explained my dream. My dream was about a friendship within my dreams with the then Mayor Daley (and my great grandmother was good friends with Mayor Daley’s father, I have a gold watch he’d given my great grandmother as thanks for work she’d done for him years ago, to this day, so it’s not impossible I could be friends with Mayor Daley within a theoretical collective unconscious). I agreed to just go back to bed, since these paramedics had odd delusions it was their legal right to prevent a woman from driving from the suburbs of Chicago into the city of Chicago. Five of these paramedics dragged me out of the comfort of my own bed, while the sixth paramedic told them what they were doing was illegal, since I was neither a danger to myself, nor anyone else. This illegal hospitalization eventually resulted in a medically unnecessary long distance shipment to, and “snowing” by, the now FBI arrested VR Kuchipudi.

    I could go on and on, but my point in explaining my so called “psychosis” is to point out the reality that what psychiatric practioners call “psychosis” and “irrelevant to reality” is, in fact, not remotely “irrelevant” to the person experiencing it. And the psychiatric drugs do cause “psychosis,” especially when cocktails of drugs are forced onto patients, resulting in anticholinergic intoxication. And the psychiatric profession has no more scientific evidence their theories of DSM “mental illnesses” are any more scientifically valid than their, and now my and many people’s, theory there may be a collective unconscience. The psychiatric industry needs to wake up and learn to treat other humans with respect and dignity, rather than hypocritically creating “psychosis” in people for profit.

    And I say this in part, because my next and last drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic “psychosis” resulted, once again, in a spiritual journey where I expressed disgust at the Federal Reserve bankers, which millions are now also doing online, and this shouldn’t be considered the least bit surprising behavior for an ethical American bank president’s daughter. And this last so called “psychosis” culminated with Jesus calling judgement day. And, to this day in my semi-lucid dreams, God and Jesus are working on separating the good from the evil. I don’t know whether these dreams may, or may not, be prophetic. All I know is there are way more souls going to the lake of fire than I had personally hoped, but I do now understand why, in particular psychiatrists and banksters. “When her heart breaks, it don’t break even.” Treat others as you’d like to be treated please. And repent for the appalling harm you’ve done to other human beings. Trust me, God knows all about everyone’s “dirty little secrets.”

    “Irrelevant to reality,” or potentially prophetic? No human knows yet. However, since I see this world being financially enslaved by unethical bankers, and psychologically terrorized as well, and I’d prefer to live in a world where all are intelligent enough to treat all others with mutual respect instead. Like all people, I hope and pray my dreams come true.

  6. Clear as a bell. What a superb example you are of ‘doing the work,’ not just helping yourself with such tremendous compassion, but extending this to others, as well, in the moment. Brava, Corinna! Wishing you great healing and blessings on your enlightened path.

  7. Corinna, you are so brave. I’m not sure if I would have the balls to reenter the mental ILLNESS system for help, knowing that I’d have to dodge all of the dangers of this corrupt and primitive system. Somehow, though, you’re doing it and it’s helping you along with all of the people you’ve shared your story with. Your drive and sense of – dare I say it – entitlement to make psychiatry serve YOU and not the other way around boggles my mind. It’s often hard to talk about these things, even privately, so I’m incredibly impressed by your gracious gesture of candor that might perhaps be costing you some of your privacy. More Mad people, me included, might benefit themselves by becoming more outspoken about what our Mad Health needs and challenges are.

    As Mad people well know, the biographical significance of any tragedy, exercise of human volition, or act of God (or destiny/luck/universe/etc.) can be ransacked by psychiatric clinicians who see no need to learn how to live within unsightly, puzzling, incomplete, and obtrusive life circumstances or around any people they can blame for these circumstances. Laing said that the only pain that can’t be beared is the pain that we try and run from. Psychiatric clinicians, maybe in part due to a reaction formation against one of psychiatry’s most reviled geniuses, blow off this pearl of wisdom. After birth and death, there is no state of being more human than Madness. All of the familial, social, cultural, economic, and political roots of Mad people’s extreme states are shared by every person on Earth. Though everybody won’t be equally vulnerable to each of these biographical influences, it’s not possible for anyone to make themselves invulnerable to all of these influences through prayer, wealth, power, psychiatry, or anything else. The psychiatric clinicians who have sought to make themselves the only people that can name reality have usually employed the pseudoscience of psychiatry to stand in for a humble acknowledgement of what really caused the pain they feel and the pain they feel over their fear of future pain. Identifying the source of one’s suffering is a person’s first step towards loosening its chokehold on their life. Since Mad people’s wannabe arbiters of reality haven’t even gotten this far in maintaining their own psychological hygeine, we’re already one step ahead of our clinicians by the time they begin “treating” us. These emotionally, spiritually, and cognitively underdeveloped psychiatric clinicians mishandle this professional embarrassment by pulling the Mad people they treat down to their level. By using psychiatry to replace the life story of Madness with the “case history” of “mental illness”, psychiatric clinicians can brainwash Mad people into becoming as broken as they are. Without a point of reference for our Madness that is anchored in the time and space of the interactive world we live in, Mad people won’t ever heal because our brainwashing into the medical-model of “mental illness” will leave us with no words with which we can retrieve or rebuild our individual and relational selves. This “doctored” ruin of Mad lives is the fail-safe way for our psychiatric clinicians to avoid being the only people in the “therapeutic” relationship who collapse during their lifelong flight from the pain that makes us Mad and off to a nonexistent biographical wasteland of pseudo-sanity. What losers they are. Too often, Mad people just have no fucking clue that our “treatment” is a crutch for the sickest people who disguise themselves as the healthiest.