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Sally Buchanan-Hagen

Psych Byte: Psychotic Mania

Psychotic mania is like living in a techni-colour dream that can turn into a lurid nightmare within a blink of an eye - it is furiously wondrous and frighteningly deadly. Sally has been psychotically manic twice and shares her experience of vivid hallucinations and grandiose delusions, and how being hospitalised for psychotic mania saved her life. 

A Day in the Life of Hypomania

(A picture from the mural I drew on my wall during that hypomanic episode.)

A while ago while cleaning out my room I found diary entries of a hypomanic episode that I had at the start of 2015. The fact that I had written a diary entry is unusual because I don’t normally journal. Below is an edited entry that has also been filled in with hindsight. 

25/02/2015 – Summer 

My Beacon of Light: Electroconvulsive Therapy

Two years ago there was one thing above all in the mental health world that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and it was electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Not the thought of the procedure itself, but the side effects. 

Seclusion: Being on the Other Side of the Door

“LET ME OUT OF HERE!” I screamed at the top of my voice, hammering on the nurse’s station door. I was yelling so loud my lungs and chest hurt, my throat was raw and it felt like the veins in my neck would burst. The day’s events that had seemed trivial were no longer a joke and I was angry. That afternoon I had been admitted onto a psychiatric ward. Initially I thought the whole thing was quite funny because I wasn’t even “unwell”. Soon everyone would see I was not manic but actually a divine being and they would all feel rather foolish. 

When You Have to Say Goodbye to Your Psychologist

I sat in the cheery Student Life waiting room with brochures hanging from the walls. I had broken out into a cold sweat and was feeling fairly nauseated, ready to bolt. ‘What am I doing here? This is not me.’ I thought for the hundredth time. I reminded myself that I might need special consideration. I was desperately hanging onto the semester (and life) with the tips of my fingers and with each day one finger slipped off.

My Bipolar Disorder is not your Excuse

I decided to be open about my bipolar disorder over two years ago. I expected that there would be some stigma, but what I didn’t expect or prepare for was the hidden stigma. The kind of stigma that isn’t immediately obvious until you reflect upon it. One of these hidden stigmas is people using my bipolar as an excuse or cop-out, either for their own actions or myself. Common examples of this is “You’ve done really well given you have bipolar” or “You have bipolar? But you seem like the rest of us!”