Micropsychosis: Temporarily Losing Your Mind

loses their minds 

Have you ever heard someone say that they “lost their mind”? Perhaps you’ve even witnessed a seemingly normal person “lose it”, such as the JetBlue pilot in 2012 that had to be subdued by passengers because of sudden, erratic behavior during a flight, or when a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight began speaking erratically over the intercom.

There are multiple medical conditions that can trigger psychotic like episodes such as brain tumors, thyroid conditions, fever, infection and substance abuse. There are also multiple psychiatric conditions that can cause a person to have brief psychosis such as bipolar disorder and major depression.

However, there are times when relatively healthy people can for an incredibly short amount of time, lose touch with reality, becoming paranoid, hearing voices, having a sense of depersonalization (a state in which one’s thoughts and feelings seem unreal or not to belong to oneself, or in which one loses all sense of identity) or derealization (a feeling that one’s surroundings are not real).

This condition is called micropsychosis and generally last only a few minutes to a few hours and typically occurs during times of heightened anxiety and/or stress. Afterwards, the person goes back to him or her normal self and may never have an episode again. It’s not to be confused with a brief psychotic episode which by definition last longer, typically one day to a month and is not re-occurring.

Micropsychotic episodes are what I think often happens when someone goes into a rage and is seemingly out of control. Afterwards, many of them can’t remember what happened, or feel as if they were watching themselves do things as if it were a movie.

Whenever someone who has never had a psychotic episode suddenly has one, it usually takes them and everyone by surprise, but in retrospect, there is usually some early symptoms that may have gone unnoticed or ignored. Often times it’s the way someone is dealing (or not dealing) with stress.

While having a micropsychotic episode may actually be quite a normal psychological response under some extreme stressful conditions, there is probably some underlying condition that needs to be investigated, even if it’s just talk therapy to help deal with stress or a visit to a medical doctor to rule out a medical condition.

Below is a video of a character with Borderline Personality Disorder and her Micropsychotic hallucination. A funny title for this video would be, “How To Make Your Hallucinations Disappear”.

Emotional Vampires: How To Spot Them And How To Deal With Them

ed6568492c7ad5b402e59e8e9a09fe20-d55q1a1I am personally very sensitive to other peoples energy. Meaning, if I am in a room where everyone is sad, I can feel that sadness and even myself start to become sad. The same is true if the energy and emotion are happy or angry. I often get taken out of my element when I get around someone whose energy is different than mine. Meaning, I can come home happy and immediately become down if my partner is down because she had a bad day. It’s something that is my personal challenge to work on, but many of us are like that.

We realize that while some people are very positive and they often help improve our mood and energy, others are just the opposite, they are very negative and suck us dry of any happiness, positivity, peace and joy. A popular term for these type of individuals today is emotional vampires.  Some emotional vampires we know right away because they immediately drain us of emotional and physical energy as soon as they come around. Others are much more discreet and make remarks that leave us feeling bad and doubtful about ourselves such as  “You’re just not as smart as your brother” or “You’re always taking things personal”.

There are different types of emotional vampires and here I’ll list them and give you some tips on how to deal with each type you may encounter.

The Narcissistic Vampire

This vampire is all about themselves and everything is always about them. They are conceited, grandiose, entitled, want all the attention and admiration and believe that they are ultra-important. They lack empathy and have a very short fuse when it comes to giving love to others. Even when they do show favor to others, they will quickly withdraw it if things aren’t done their way, then they become very hurtful and punishing.

One way to combat this type of vampire is by keeping things in perspective by realizing that these type of people are very limited emotionally. If you expect more from them, you will just be disappointed over and over again. Falling in love with them is just setting you up for heart ache because they do not know how to be selfless or love unconditionally. If you depend on them for your self-worth you will only be crushed.

If you must deal with this type of person, the best way to handle them is by showing them how something will be in their best benefit. They are very selfish people and are happiest when they believe they are benefiting the most out of a situation.  This type of person is in my opinion the second most draining.

The Victim Vampire

This type of vampire is always crying “poor me”. They hate to take responsibility for their own actions. They believe that everything and everyone is against them which they believe is why they are unhappy. They fail to see, or want to see, their role in causing their own unhappiness. They will blame everything and everyone but themselves. These type of  vampires are most draining when you try to help them, but never can.

For this type of vampire you have to set limits and boundaries for self-care. Tell them you can only listen for a few minutes because you are busy, otherwise they will drain you quickly.

The Controlling Vampire

This vampire is always trying to control others by telling them now only what they should do, but also how they should feel. The way they do this is sometimes obvious, other times it’s less obvious because they try to control you by invalidating your emotions if they don’t believe you should feel that way. These are the type of people who always know what’s best for you and don’t have a problem telling you. In the end you end up not feeling good about yourself, feeling demeaned and belittled.

With this vampire you have to be assertive and confident. Pick your battles wisely with them and don’t try to control or “fix” them, that will only set them off. Be assertive on the things that matter and let some of the smaller things go.

The Splitter or Borderline Personality Vampire

Dealing with someone who has borderline personality disorder in itself is a taunting task. These type of vampires are always in black and white relationships, there is no gray areas. You are either good or bad therefore the relationship you will have with them will always be love and hate relationship. One day they worship you, but do something wrong and the next day you are totally worthless. They are very emotionally damaged people and often feel numb unless they are angry, and that’s when they feel alive. These type of vampire will keep you on a continuous emotional roller-coaster which is not only emotionally draining, but they can make you feel like you’re going to lose  your mind trying to deal with them and walking on eggshells to avoid conflict.

With these type of vampire you have to not allow them to suck you in and get as angry and upset as they are. You have to protect your emotions, stay calm, don’t over-react when they come looking for a fight. Believe it or not, these vampires respond best to structure and knowing where the limits are. If they start to get angry and out of control, tell them that you are going to walk away until they calm down. They won’t like it, but in the end this type of response is best for you and them. They will come to know their limits. They are also good at pitting people against each other and dividing friendships and families which is why it’s also important to not take sides when one tries to pit you against others, especially family and friends. These people in my opinion are the most draining because of their unpredictable, yet predictable nature.

We all know some emotional vampires and to be emotionally free, we have to learn how to deal with them.

For more information on emotional vampires check out “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life.” by Dr. Judith Orloff and “Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry.” by Dr. Albert Bernstein

Saving the Lives of Butterflies: Part 2

It’s been a few months since I first introduced The Butterfly Project to the high school kids I work with (if you haven’t already, you can check out my post entitled “Saving the Lives of Butterflies”). Well I’m happy to report that over the past two weeks I’ve had a number of them come up to me and show me the butterflies that they drew on themselves in efforts to refrain from cutting themselves! I was so happy to see one or two of them do this, but was overwhelmed to see nearly all of the ones who have issues with self-injury trying this technique and so far it appears to be helping! Some of them even name their butterflies and they have been encouraging each other. It’s a small step, but I am so thrilled by it’s success so far that I just had to share some of the pictures!

With summer coming up, I am really worried about all of the teens I work with at the high school, especially the ones who self-injure, but I am really hoping that everything I’ve taught them over the summer, including cognitive behavioral interventions, emotional self regulation strategies and now the Butterfly Project, will help them make it through whatever they encounter and that they will emerge stronger and more confident. I will also be worried about the ones who use drugs, the ones who make irrational decisions, the ones with anger issues and the ones with severe depression and anxiety. Pretty much, I’ll be worried about all of them, but I have to hope and trust that I’ve helped them all enough or at least did my part in preparing them to better handle life.

Saving the Lives of Butterflies

Self-Injury

The Butterfly Project

Self-injury, also known as self-mutilation and cutting is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue mostly done without suicidal intentions wikipedia.

Self-injury is unfortunately a very common issue among teenagers. According to research, it mostly effects women from ages 13 to 30.

In a typical year at the high school I work at, I usually only see about one case of self-injury a year. Not to say that there’s only one person at the school that cuts themselves, chances are, the rest are just hiding it better. This year however, I’ve had so many instances of self-injury that I actually have a group comprised mostly of “cutters”, as they refer to themselves. Coinciding with research, three out of the four people in the group are female. Most of them cut on their arms and one cuts on her arms and thighs. All of them cut out of anger, frustration and depression. They express to me that it helps them feel alive and/or that it helps them take out their frustrations on themselves. For all of them, it has become a form of addiction.

During my last meeting with this group, one of the newest members told me about The Butterfly Project. The Butterfly Project basically is a way to try and help those who self-injure and those who know someone who self-injures. It has seven rules.

1. When you feel like you want to cut, take a marker, pen or sharpies and draw a butterfly on your arm or hand.
2. Name the buttery after a loved one, or someone that really wants you to get better.
3. You must let the butterfly fade naturally. NO scrubbing it off.
4. If you cut before the butterfly is gone, you’ve killed it. If you don’t cut, it lives.
5. If you have more than one butterfly, cutting kills all of them.
6. Another person may draw them on you. These butterflies are extra special. Take good care of them.
7. Even if you don’t cut, feel free to draw a butterfly anyway, to show your support. If you do this, name it after someone you know that cuts or is suffering right now, and tell them. It could help.

I thought that this was a very creative and safe alternative to self-injury so my entire group is trying this and maybe it will help others out there who self-injure so definitely pass this on.

The above picture is an actually picture I took of a previous client of mine who self-injures. She actually did much more damage to her arms a few days after I took this picture and required psychiatric hospitalization.