Me and Psychosis: Battling the Stigma and Overcoming the Challenges

I never thought I would find myself discussing psychosis so openly. But here I am, sharing my story, in the hopes that it may shed some light on the realities of living with this condition and dispel the misconceptions surrounding it.

Starting in 2017, I experienced a series of distressing events, including a smear campaign, cyberbullying, and toxic relationships in the workplace, which exacerbated my journey with psychosis. Some of these events have yet to end…It was a terrifying ordeal, but by navigating through the darkness, I have learned to find strength, resilience, and a burning desire to break the silence surrounding mental health.

The Smear Campaign since 2017:

Since November 2017, I have been subjected to a targeted smear campaign that has shaken the core of my being. It all started with baseless accusations of racism and malicious rumours spread about me in the apartment building where I lived and worked of how I was doing my job, tarnishing my reputation and causing psychological distress. Then the domains started…Over time, they added a total of 7 domains where now only 4 remain. The continuous attacks on my character left me feeling isolated, helpless, and vulnerable. The toll it took on my mental well-being cannot be understated.

I became really scared of people, especially strangers, as I didn’t know if they were there for legitimate reasons such as to see a vacant apartment or just to get at me. You see, this website also shared my picture, name, address and even a map, making it easy to find me if someone wanted to attack me for the contents of that site. It was really scary, as you can imagine!

Cyberbullying Me in the Contents of a Domain in My Name:

Adding to my agony, cyberbullying became an integral part of this smear campaign. My tormentors created a domain in my name in April 2019 and filled it with defamatory content, aimed at tarnishing my credibility and causing further harm to my already fragile state of mind. More followed that all contained my name, picture, and personal info. The constant online harassment compounded my feelings of fear, anxiety, and even paranoia. I had quit my job by the time this site came online and for that, I am very grateful!

Psychosis and Toxic Relationships from My Last Place of Work:

In the midst of this relentless onslaught in 2018, I found myself battling psychosis. I was on the phone with one of my employers on July 4, 2018, talking about work when an email from these toxic tenants telling my bosses to “check” my behaviour popped up. I started reading it out loud over the phone, and before I realized it, I was detached from reality. The world became a distorted place, with a constant surge of delusions and hallucinations plaguing my every waking moment. I was having visions of mobs coming after me to try and kill me, with the toxic tenants leading the pack!

I don’t know much of what I did during those 2 days as my hubby won’t tell me, all he would say was that I was not there. He also told me he didn’t sleep for almost a week, as he wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt myself. I do know I quit my job by email that day, as I have it still. All I remember with any clarity is the fear I felt, and the paranoia and feeling like I had to get away.

The next thing I remember clearly is finding myself sitting on my bed, on the phone with the Mental Health Helpline, with all my stuff packed up around my feet, who talked me into going to a walk-in clinic, where I saw a psychiatrist. I was then referred to the Mental Health program with Scarborough General Hospital, which I saw till the pandemic shut down in 2020. Since moving to NL, I have found more help that I still get!

The combination of psychosis and toxic relationships was a recipe for disaster. My grasp on reality became increasingly tenuous, as the manipulative behaviour and gaslighting from these tenants, with the pressure from my bosses to stay quiet and their micromanaging, fueled my already tumultuous mental state.

It was a horrifying experience, as I felt trapped in a claustrophobic cycle of self-doubt, paranoia, and a deep-rooted fear of being further ostracized and physically attacked. All the legal processes were also horrendous!

The Terrifying Battle:

Living with psychosis is an indescribable ordeal. The hallucinations played tricks on my mind, creating terrifying scenarios that no one else could perceive. I began questioning my own thoughts, actions, and even the intentions of those around me. Every day was a constant struggle, trying to discern what was real from what was merely a figment of my imagination.

I was seeing others being attacked on the news for the same thing and it terrified me. Could that really happen to me too? I didn’t know and was afraid to find out, so I hid away, for over 2 years. I barely went out the door, the fear was that bad. When I had to do so, I would throw up with the thought of it! I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat so lost 89 lbs during that time, and as you can tell from some of my writing from that time, I couldn’t think straight either.

Finding the Strength to Fight Back:

Despite the agony I endured, I refused to let psychosis define me. I sought out professional help and have maintained it ever since and turned to a supportive circle of friends and family, who stood by my side throughout this tumultuous journey. Their unwavering belief in my resilience and their compassion helped me regain some semblance of control over my life. Some people deserted me, it hurt, but what could I do?

I engaged in therapy and counselling sessions, learning coping mechanisms to manage my symptoms and navigate through moments of crisis. It was not an easy process, but with perseverance and a gritty determination to reclaim my well-being, I began to see glimpses of light amidst the darkness. I had to find a way out, for my own sanity and I am so glad I did!

Breaking the Silence and Dispelling the Stigma:

Through my ongoing battle with psychosis, I realized the power of sharing my story. By opening up about my experiences, I aim to shatter the stigmatization surrounding mental health conditions, like psychosis, and demonstrate that individuals who struggle with them are not defined by their diagnosis.

I am evidence that with determination, you can learn to maintain your mental health issues and live a very good life. Is it still a little restricted? Yep, but in all honesty I don’t mind that. I am safe and very happy, and that is all that counts!

I find there is an urgent need to foster empathy and compassion for those dealing with mental health problems. Educating society about the realities of living with psychosis can combat the fear, ignorance, and discrimination that often accompany this condition. Awareness should extend to workplaces, schools, and in all aspects of our lives to create a more inclusive and understanding society.

Conclusion:

My journey with psychosis has been marked by immense pain, fear, and resilience. The smear campaign, cyberbullying, and toxic work relationships made it a relentless battle. However, I refuse to let these experiences define me. Instead, I choose to use my voice to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and foster empathy and understanding towards mental health issues.

Let my story be a reminder that behind every mental health struggle is a person deserving of compassion, support, and the chance to rebuild their lives. Together, we can break down the barriers, challenge the misconceptions, and create a world that embraces and empowers individuals battling mental health conditions like psychosis. Don’t ever let the machinations of toxic people deter you from living your best life!

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