I have found that psychosis is often misunderstood and misjudged. My bipolar delusions of grandeur led to my diagnosis and transformed me into a better mental health advocate and a better, kinder person.
Psychosis, Delusions of Grandeur, & Bipolar Disorder
When it comes to mental health conditions, sometimes we are unaware of our illness until we are formally diagnosed. This is called anosognosia, or lack of insight. Well, that is what happened to me. I had no idea that bipolar I disorder was slowly creeping into the corners of my mind in 2005. Bipolar can cause us to experience delusions, and they are often delusions of grandeur (also known as “grandiose delusions”).
These typically relate to the belief that we are specifically someone other than who we really are, such as a mystical figure or celebrity, or that we have exceptional and special abilities. In the end, these beliefs are simply not true, but their power is dependent upon how much the person in the delusion actually believes it.
My experience with these types of delusions “rocked my world” as I knew it; and, before long, I was certain that my destiny was to become the youngest female prime minister of Canada.
I had formerly earned a political science degree, and I legitimately had moved to Ottawa to work in the House of Commons months earlier. I was not delusional at the start of my move to Ottawa—I was bravely following my dreams.
The real world and a new delusional experience induced by bipolar disorder began to intermix, and so I would do many strange things and act completely out of character. I even wrote a 33-page, single-spaced document—over the course of just three hours—about my new political plans. Deeming it to be brilliant and world-changing, I “knew” that this electoral strategy would bring me victory, and I planned to revel in the well-lain plans that would no doubt bring me to the highest governmental position in the entire country.
The Religious Side to Delusions of Grandeur
I know that talking about religion, God, or Jesus can be a touchy subject, but I share this part of my story because religious delusions happen to countless people with psychotic conditions, including bipolar disorder. During the time that I was experiencing delusions, my religious and spiritual views began to alter. I suddenly started to attend church, received a baptism, and constantly read the Book of Revelations in the Bible. Prior to this, I had not partaken in any type of spiritual practice for over a decade.
Religiosity overcame my usual way of life, and especially so when I started having one-on-one conversations with God Himself. This type of connection was very clear in my own mind, and I believed that I had a secret ability to communicate with a higher power, similar to how I would be able to chat with a friend in real life. This experience was not entirely disturbing, and much of it felt beautiful and surreal.
Delusions and the Call for Help
As time unfolded, so did my sanity. I started to believe that my pink highlighter gave me secret powers to absorb writing in a textbook and automatically transmit the teachings into my brain without me having to physically read anything. I was also sure that my car had the ability to drive all by itself—and I still wonder how I never got into an accident. And I believed that I was destined to win millions of dollars with a single ticket because the woman on the radio kept telling me so. Not only would I be the most brilliant person in the world, but quite possibly one of the richest.
As time went on, I was eventually admitted to a psychiatric hospital. While I housesat for a friend, I believed that my life was in jeopardy and called 911. When the police officer showed up and heard my story, he offered to call me an ambulance.
I took a step back, and then it hit me: “Am I sick? Why does he believe that I am sick? Am I okay?”
I concluded that I was not mentally ill, but that I was simply afraid to be in that apartment alone. I grabbed a ride in the ambulance to the hospital that night, and I did not leave for over a month.
Finding Purpose in My Bipolar Delusions
I learned so much through my experiences with delusions of grandeur. Initially, I chalked them up as rubbish—useless and a mere product of a nagging mental illness that haunted me. I continued to live and to learn, and I eventually came to a place where I was able to see the beauty in all of my delusions.
Now I see that if I had never experienced these intense delusions, then I definitely would not have such in-depth content for all of my mental health advocacy. I have the privilege to educate the world on what it is like to have a mental illness, and, in this instance, I am free to share about what it is actually like to live through delusions of grandeur. I think that this type of sharing personal experiences is valuable, in part because there is so much misunderstanding and stigma around mental illness, especially psychotic disorders. I feel I have an important role to play.
I also feel that my spiritual experiences led me on a path to explore my own spirituality, and, over time, it did not all feel like a farce. Now, when I am approached by people on the street who are in perceived states of delusions, they often tell me about their religious experiences and prophecies. Before receiving my own diagnosis, I may have just considered them to be mentally deranged, but I am a different person now. I am kinder. I listen. I am more compassionate. I am also very patient.
My delusions of grandeur transformed who I am today, and in a positive way. They altered how I perceive the world. I am better for having gone through them, and I know deep in my heart that I would not change a thing.
Sources: Medical News Today; National Center for Biotechnology Information
Whether you live with bipolar or love someone who does, you can find comfort, wisdom, and strategies (maybe even a good laugh!) in these inspirational books. We can lose ourselves in the power of the written word, compelled by the raw emotions, deep insights, and humorous takes offered by others like us—people who share our...
One of the most important decisions we make is the person we trust with our hearts and choose to spend our lives with. For a relationship to not just survive but also thrive when one partner lives with bipolar, there are a few foundational requirements. Here is what I have learned so far … We...
Enhanced primary care helps reduce ER visits October 1, 2020, CHAPEL HILL, NC—Integrating primary care services and behavioral health services appears to reduce emergency room visits among people with severe psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder, a new study suggests. American researchers, using the customary term “serious mental illness,” noted that individuals with such conditions...
Mental health advocacy is extremely invigorating, fulfilling, and challenging work. My journey shows the rewards of this work, plus how imperative it is to consider the required patience, dedication, and commitment. [Trigger Warning: This post mentions past struggles with suicidality.] Feeling “Cursed” after My Diagnosis of Bipolar In 2005, I suffered a major breakdown, and,...