Visiting Voices

'Visiting Voices' shares stories from individuals who are not clients or employees of Stairways, offering wide-ranging perspectives on unique journeys of recovery. These personal stories do not constitute medical/health advice nor do they necessarily reflect the opinions of Stairways or any of its clinicians or consumers. Please see Stairways' full disclaimer here: www.stairwaysbh.org/about/disclaimer/

Laura DuMond shares her first-hand experience with psychosis

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Laura DuMond is assistant director of Mi-Journey, a drop-in center located in Michigan for self-help, advocacy, education and socialization. The following is a piece DuMond wrote on May 27 of this year, detailing her first-hand experience while actively enduring a period of psychosis. Following, DuMond shares additional insights from one month later, when her symptoms have subsided.

May 27: The Experience

I have Schizoaffective Disorder and most of the time it’s mild. Right now this is hard for me to write. Not because I don’t want to share my story but because I’m in psychosis and it’s very hard to keep my focus and remember even the simplest of things. I had to write much of this down beforehand when I had some clarity.

I believe I am cursed and haunted by demons. I see, hear, smell, and feel them. Real or not, this is what it is. As an Assistant Director of a drop-in center this is not an ideal time to be going through this. People depend on me to help them with their own recovery. Thankfully, I have a lot of support from my Director and those who frequent the drop in center.

What I want my message to be is it’s still possible to function during my illness and psychosis. Life isn’t ending because I’m struggling. I still have choices. I want to isolate myself and I can choose to do that. Or I can choose to stay among the people that I’ve been associating with for many months now. I can hide my symptoms (albeit not well enough so basically I’d be lying if I said I was fine) or I can ask for help. What I realized is that even though I have lost some control over myself I haven’t lost ALL control.

I also realized that my environment hasn’t changed only my mind has. So I must be vigilant to not be the cause of any negative environmental change around me. Instead of fighting “them” out there I need to internalize it and deal with it from inside of me. And as much as I want to react negatively to everything and everyone around me I must step outside of myself and see things for what they really are. This is a hard thing to do for someone within the schizophrenia spectrum. Delusions and hallucinations are all too real which is why I employ a verbal contract I have with a few trusted people in my life before the onset of psychosis.

The contract? I will tell the person exactly what is going on with me and what I’m thinking. The person agrees to tell me his/her opinion what he/she believes to be true. I must listen carefully and with an open mind and trust that what this person is telling me is true and that my thoughts are delusions meant to trap me. I agree to stop believing in my delusion and believe in what the person has told me. Amazingly this works. Another person with schizophrenia also tried this technique and he said it helped him, too!

I know there will be an end to the psychosis eventually and there will be a lull in my symptoms so with this in mind I have no interest in “ending it all”. While recovery is great there will be times of relapse guaranteed. Not to worry, everything has a season. Right now it’s relapse season for me and that’s ok. It will get better one of these days.

June 21: Post-Symptomatic Insight

I am happy to report that I am no longer in psychosis. Yay! I worked hard and used my coping skills to pull myself out of it.

Important for readers to know is this: I stopped all my meds for my illness Sept 2014 and I have not taken any since then. I had been kicked out of college and lost my job due to this illness, all because I was paying too much attention to it and reacting to it. I chose an unhealthy reality – one that the illness was giving me and which made my life a waking nightmare. I was determined to find a better way to deal with my illness, and I found it in Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Certified Peer Support Specialists.

Even in psychosis I do not take any meds, nor do I have a psychiatrist or a therapist. I no longer need them. My psychosis used to last almost a year. Now it is shortened to a week or less, which is a huge difference.

While medications have their place to initially get someone calmed down, I don’t feel, for me, that it’s beneficial in any way to remain on meds when there are better options with no bad side effects. In fact, the side effects are positive and all within my control.

I have chosen a healthier reality – one where I have more control over my life. I wish I had known that a decade ago. It would have saved me a lot of trauma from the chaos. I hope my story and my experience inspires others to get better and find the alternatives that work for them.


Editor’s Note: Laura’s story and her experience are her own and shared above in her own words. Want to share your story of recovery? Email the editor at info@stairwaysbh.org

Stories in the Visiting Voices blog are not meant to act as a substitute for psychiatric care nor provide medical advice. Please see Stairways full disclaimer for additional information. 


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