This time last year, he was nearly ‘normal’ as he had responded really well to Olanzepine (Zyprexa), the antipsychotic medication. He was under the care of the Community Mental Health Team and everyone seemed happy with his progress.
I was relieved but was still reeling from the effect his behaviour during the episode of hypomania had had on me. That was proper psychosis, as defined by the medical dictionary – radical change in personality and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality, caused by delusions and hallucinations.
I phoned the mental health team as I wanted to know more about what it means for us a family if our son has this type of an illness. The psychiatrist said, ”it could just be a one off.” That left me none the wiser, not knowing what to expect next or what to watch out for.
What came next was a gradual onset of low mood, him spending a lot of time by himself, him coming back from his placement abroad in 2 days as he was unable to function, upside down sleep pattern, difficult to talk to as he would barely speak much and a neglect of his appearance. He went to the gym everyday but I noticed that the time he spent there became shorter and shorter. Shaving his beard seemed like a herculean task to him.
I did not know it then but that was psychosis too – Psychotic Depression.
People with psychotic depression may be humiliated or ashamed of their thoughts and try to hide them. Doing so makes this type of depression very difficult to diagnose.
But diagnosis is important as its treatment is different to that for nonpsychotic depression. I suppose this is the kind of thing that specialists would know. I was only a layperson when it came to mental illness.