Earlier this week I was set a challenge I’ve not taken on previously. It has to do with my symptomatic behavior and a comparison to the behavior an individual with alcoholism exhibits when intoxicated.
The comparison was that detrimental behavior I exhibit while in a psychotic episode (this comes on when I’m in the midst of a severe mixed bipolar episode, essentially rapid cycling so fast you can’t tell the difference between the manic and the depressive symptoms… they exist in the same moment in time for every moment in time) is EXACTLY like someone with alcoholism who drives intoxicated and kills a person.
This really hurt me. My behavior that was being compared with sending an impulsive group email that revealed information that wasn’t appropriate to share with others without asking permission. That’s the psychotic stuff. It’s delusional paranoia every time, and this time I’m afraid of APD and that I’ll be going to prison. There’s a whole story behind this, and really, don’t try to tell me right now that I’m “imagining things” and I won’t go to prison. Right now, these symptomatic thoughts are my reality. Period.
So impulsive decisions are part and parcel with the delusion paranoia, including emails, texts, phone calls, etc. And I sent an inappropriate email. The wronged party insists it’s of the magnitude of killing a person. It’s a bit of a reach.
Of course, my analytical, scientific mind scratched at this itch, and while some might disagree with my assessment and analysis, I’m going to share how I believe there is a difference.
For someone who drives while intoxicated, they have two choices that they make that puts them in a position where they are violating DWI statutes.
1.) They CHOOSE to drink alcohol.
2.) They CHOOSE, while intoxicated, to drive a motor vehicle.
I know the struggle folks with alcoholism face every day. It is a physical addiction, and it is psychological addiction. I hate saying “however”, although in this case “however” is appropriate. To those dealing with severe alcoholism, the DTs are a horror no one should endure. However, if placed in a situation where there is no alcohol available, the individual with alcoholism will not be intoxicated, and their decision making capacity (borne of alcohol in their brain) is not affected by the alcohol and the symptoms of alcoholism.
For me, I don’t have this choice. I can’t CHOOSE to have psychotic symptoms, bipolar symptoms, PTSD symptoms, and anxiety symptoms. These are borne of a malfunctioning organ, my brain, and it is doing this independent of any substance or ingested chemical. The brain is doing this all by itself.
I understand that in both those with alcohol issues and those with mental illness, decision making acumen is challenged in many of the same ways…
And this might seem slighting, and it is the important distinction for me, and it’s a flippant statement I fired back at this woman…
I can’t CHOOSE to crack open a six pack of delusional paranoia borne of a mixed bipolar episode and CHOOSE to consume the delusional paranoia. I have no CHOICE in whether or not I have impaired decision making acumen and psychotic symptoms. You can’t move me into an environment free of delusion paranoia so I can’t get delusion or paranoid. It’s part and parcel of every moment reality while I’m in crisis. This is not a CHOICE I’m afforded, to not be in crisis.
I mean, who would choose that? I can’t see anyone feeling any inkling of great need to have delusional paranoia. This experience, for me, doesn’t seem all that addictive and something I want to repeat. In fact, I want this shit to be over with. Two weeks like this is horror and torture on me.
In both intoxication and my psychosis, there are consequences for poor choices. I have always been a firm believer that if I make detrimental choices and decisions that affect me and others while I’m crisis, I have to work that much harder to keep those triggers, situations, and symptoms at bay. Which is what I do.
A mental health diagnosis is NOT an excuse.
It is only an explanation.
The important distinction I make is valid. And now, since I do make impulsive choices while in psychotic crisis, I’m going to unplug my PC again, take the battery out of my phone, and read some professional geology journals to calm my anxiety, and thus the mixed episode, and thus the psychotic symptoms. Easier said than done, and I always work hard and then harder and then even harder during and then sustainably after every mental health crisis.