Questions about psychosis and sis

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Steely, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    As you may or may not know (probably do), my sister just passed away in a tragic, sudden, drowning in a small pond. She was only 37. The police are still investigating how the actual drowning happened.

    Two days prior to her death she was reported to be having splits from reality. I can't go into the details, but there is enough evidence suggesting this was actually happening. At times, it appeared, she was completely split from reality including picking up things that were not hers, and thinking they were, and being unable to find her way in her city. However, she worked all day one of these days, and there were not any reports of her being in an altered reality - although there were reports of her being paranoid.

    Furthermore, she has had no documented history of mental illness - and she was in a place in her life, and in a relationship where she was happier than she had been in years. She did have a stressor going on with an ex coming back into her life and harassing her - but it was not long term, and that seemed to be all.

    So tell me - how and what psychosis is. And how does it happen? I mean, I know it is a chemical imbalance - but I guess I always thought that if you were psychotic everyone around you knew! You know, like a difficult child kinda thing - not like this - where literally no one knew anything was going on except her one girlfriend. For weeks, I have not believed this story - but the police have substantiated enough evidence to show me, and cause me to believe, that my sister really was having a psychotic episode before her death.

    Any insight you have with this mental illness would be so appreciated. I feel so in the dark - and here I have been dealing with mental illness for years, and years with difficult child - and did not know this type of psychosis could happen. Sigh. H and I were very close - but she lived very far away. It is possible that I was missing signs of this - or it is possible that this was a very sudden onset. I guess?
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Steely, I don't know anything about that either- sorry. But from reading that post, my first thought was that somebody was drugging or poisoning her or that she suddenly suffered one of those imbalance in the body where some critical mineral is depleted or over-saturated or something. Maybe that is my own paranoia or ignorance on psychosis, but I would be curious if she saw a doctor of any kind during this period or also had any other symptom of physical problem or showed any difference in behavior, no matter how negligable it seemed at the time. Could it have been an infection that spread to her brain? Could x or someone else have been slipping something in food or drink? Did she ever mention anything to you that seemed odd? Did they check for a brain tumor? Did they do blood work to see if levels of everything were in normal ranges?

    It just seems like a questionable theory to me that maybe the police just want everyone to buy into so they can close the file. I don't want it to drag out for your sake and the emotional drain it must be taking on everyone, but it is hard for me to make that add up. Just MHO-
  3. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I am just guessing, but what about schizophrenia? I believe that might fit with the psychotic break and the paranoia. I believe it usually manifests at a younger age, but it could fit. From what I understand, there is a genetic piece to it, but not as large a piece as there is in other mental illnesses (I have no first hand experience with it). There somehow is a link to something that occurs in a developing fetus that goes along with schizophrenia, we just studied it in Anatomy and Physiology, but I can't remember what.

    Steely, mentally ill people are just as good at hiding their problems as addicts are at hiding there addictions. husband was just diagnosed as BiPolar (BP), which was no shock to me (I live with him) but many others who he is close to don't see it. He did not allow them to. It may have gotten to a point where she just could not maintain anymore.

    Gentle hugs and support. I am so sorry for your loss. husband's brother died unexpectedly at 27 (about 11 yrs ago) and it is so hard.
  4. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    Your sister had Crohns, right? Is it remotely possible she also had celiac disease? It can very rarely cause psychosis, I believe. Also, you may want to verify if she started or ended any medications recently. That could lead to a myriad of mental health symptoms. {{{Hugs}}}
  5. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I know sometimes people with crohns are unable to absorb enough nutrients, especially if they have had part of their colon removed.
  6. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member

    My brother has Chrohn's also. He's had many surgeries where the majority of his intestines have been removed. There is also a history of mental health issues on that side of the family. Whether the two are related is unknown to me, but it would certainly make sense. Bro has a lot of does biomom, with a lot of breaks in another world/reality/and sometimes planet. Both of them have a lot of drug problems through the years and Celiac disease could be the root of some of Bro's issues, but he refused to do anything about it.
  7. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    All kinds of chronic or acute medical issues can cause psychosis. An infection, altered blood sugar, electrolyte imbalance, asthma attacks, and many many kinds of medications can also cause psychotic events. Steroids are notororius, which can be administered for so many problems, from pills for asthma, or auto immune illness to on the skin for a bug bite (or given other ways for bug bites, bee stings etc) and you can get steroid skin creams OTC. (Often called anti itch creams)
    Psychosis can be ongoing, or can come and go in spurts. People can often cover up psychosis, intentionally or unintnetionally. Female hormones can also help create difficulties on some occasions....or a new medication or an old medication or a medication change......
    It can be dramatic, or non dramatic.
    My husband exhibits constant non dramatic psychosis---will relay stories from his past he truly believes, but are not even close to the truth- such as how did we pick the names for our kids, to where we have lived to....well, all kinds of strange things. Unless you KNOW him REALLY well, and know the truth about what he is talking about, you would never suspect none of it is real.
    We have lived in the same town, same house for 20 years. He gets lost sometimes makeing a short 2 mile trip he used to make 4 times daily. (I normally no longer let him drive) When asked what took him so long, sometimes he admits, he got lost, sometimes he lies and is unaware he is lying, he is simply supplying some answer to my question, and sometimes he admits- he got lost.
    SOmetimes he accepts us letting him know he is haveing mixed up and wrong memories, sometimes he doesn't, and he can get pretty nasty and explosive sometimes if we point it out to him.
    SOmetimes he is certain I am standing there screaming at him, even if I am in my room laying down, and we go running to see what and who he is yelling at-----and noone is there.
    Other times long periods of time go by and he seems pretty much just fine.
    Sometimes when questioned he can fabricate something so that it is hard to tell if he is being pyschotic or not. It is not always becuz he is trying to cover up his problem, somuch as he himself truly believed what he thought was real.

    Then there is panic- fight or flight. SOme people have very mild intermittant anxiety..some have panic attacks, and it can be embarrrassing to admit you experience these, so you do your best to muddle thru. But for some people, it can go on into something far more dramatic and far more difficult to "cover up" When in the most extreme full blown fight or flight panic..people can do some strange and yes, dangerous things. Both me and my oldest child and my husband have experienced the most severe form of fight or flight. It can come on very suddenly, be quite intense, and it can also go away rather quickly as rear up another time. It can cause a person to become so out of touch with the here and now-----you cannot tell up from down, or anything. it can last mere moments or hours.
  8. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Other things that can cause psychosis are illnesses such as lupus and MS. People with no history of mental illness have suffered from dissociative disorders seemingly out of the blue after a traumatizing event. When we think of 'traumatizing event' we tend to think of something huge and earth shattering, but it doesn't have to be. It can just simply be overload.

    People tend to think of psychosis as something dramatic as you see in movies and can easily excuse away behavior such as you described your sister exhibiting as stress or fatigue, etc. I think most lay people simply aren't going to recognize it unless it was a schizophrenic-type break with reality.

    Also, those things you described could have other explanations. I suffered huge cognitive deficits before my heart attack and I got lost in my own neighborhood (that I had lived in for 5 years) and another time was on a street and knew I should *know* where I was, but couldn't figure out where I was or where I was going (it was the street the junior high was on and I took easy child to school almost every day - so I did know the street). It wasn't psychosis; it was cognitive and it was caused by my health condition.
  9. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member

    Oh yeah, even a urinary tract infection can cause psychosis.
  10. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Steeley, there are so many things that could have gone wrong including:

    medical condition associated with Crohns
    medication overload/underload/allergic reaction
    basically any mental illness that could have arisen
    chemical imbalances
    growth/swelling in the brain because of lesions, medications, a virus, etc.

    The primary issue here is that there is little chance (if any) that you would have been able to change it. Whatever it was that effected her was not noticed by people who interacted with her on a daily basis IN PERSON! How would you have been able to see it from so far away.

    Fate is truly cruel as it makes us question the dreaded "shoulda, coulda, woulda's" of life. I shoulda seen it coming, I coulda prevented it, I woulda made her...

    Please make sure that you don't beat yourself up over this. She wouldn't have wanted you to. She loved you and still does. Once all the tests come back, you may have better answers.

    You truly are so strong and I really admire you for that!

  11. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    And it's not only the psychotropics that can cause mental problems. There is a family of fairly commonly prescribed antibiotics that is known to cause psychosis.
  12. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Wow, you guys are amazing, and I really mean that. Each and every one of you give me SO much.

    Thank are right............there is probably nothing I could have done. I still want to "make this right" though in this weird, non-comprehensible way. I just want to know.

    Wow, all of that on Chrons is amazing. However, she was in remission with her Chrons - and had not currently - that we knew - been suffering from it. That is what she told people, at least.

    We had the autopsy tested for any brain tumors, etc...........but she was in the water for over 2 weeks, and many things that could have been tested were not applicable due to the length of time she was in the water.

    Poisoning is actually one of the things I thought of first, klmno. The toxicology reports will tell us more, which are not ready yet. I know she took Sam-E for depression.......we are having her latest box sent to independent labs to be tested for any abnormality.

    Schizophrenia is as much of an enigma to me as psychosis. Our family is rampant with mental illness, and she had definite signs of some sort of mild paranoia - but to this degree - I am not sure. She had a mortgage, a career of ten years - and many other secure anchors that would seem to suggest that most of her life was spent in a reality based, successful, life. I just don't know anymore.

    Dreamer - thanks. It helps to hear actual stories of psychosis. It seems a hard illness to grasp. Four days before her death, I talked to her. She seemed so confident of many things - but I am not sure if they were substantiated in reality.

    Again, thank you guys. I am in so much of a state of denial right now. I am only skirting around the reality of what happened. Every time something reminds me of H., I literally tell myself this did not happen. I know, if someone challenged me, that it did - but I far prefer this lala-land to the real world.
  13. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thank you Sara,
    What anti-biotics can cause this?
  14. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Again, re-reading your posts...........

    I will also check into what medications she might have been taking, or any doctors she might have seen prior to this for her chrons, or other illnesses. Celiac disease is something she actually probably had, as she could not eat wheat, or things of that nature. It is possible, that something went awry in that arena as well.

    It is all so hard to comprehend.
  15. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    The quinolones. The psychiatric side effects include
    -Lack of motivation
    -Loss of grasp with reality
    -Loss of coordination and focus
    -Possible de-personalization/disassocation
  16. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Steely, I'm really sorry for all you're going through. In your shoes, I too would want to know the full story behind what happened.

    I googled SAM-e (which stands for S-adenosyl-methionine) and psychosis and came up with this interesting quote:

    "Prefrontal cortex (Brodmann's area 9) levels of the methyl donor S-adenosyl methionine were increased by about two-fold in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients, but not in unipolar depressed patients compared with nonpsychiatric subjects from the Stanley Foundation Neuropathology Consortium (Bethesda, Maryland, USA)."

    Here's the link where I found this information:

    I'm only guessing here, but I'm wondering whether taking the SAM-e pushed your sister into psychosis (similar to the way ADs can activate BiPolar (BP)). You say she didn't have mental illness, but was she taking the SAM-e for unipolar depression (that really could have been BiPolar (BP))?

    I think it's something you should look into.
  17. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Steely- I am gonna be 49 this week. I am bipolar and I have Lupus and rheumatic illness, both were in remission until last week....
    BUT....even with bipolar, and even with occasional bouts of extreme psychosis, intense panic attacks, bouts of paranoia.....I got a cosmetlogy license. I got a Realtors License. I held a job 20 years and only lost that job when the owners closed the restaurant I worked in. I got my CNA certification and I went to nurseing school while taking care of husband, 2 handicapped kids AND battleing the ravages of intense rheumatic illness AND working full time as a nurses aide----
    With absolutely NO help from "friends" or family, not moral support, not financial help etc- I reaised my kids, kept my home, all the traditional female roles and all the male roles.
    Yet, I also had times when I was severely seriously mentally ill. There were times I would duck in a bathroom at work and cut myself. There were times I told my family I had to work, and told my work I would be late, stuck in traffic and I would pull over and sob for a couple hours, for no reason. I aced college exams when manic and had not slept in days.....aced tests in college when I was so depressed I would be cutting 5 mins before or after a test. Noone knew. If I told people, they would act all shocked, and I worked in a dementia unit! ALL of our patients WERE "psychotic"!
    Many many people do not understand the depth of my dhs illness......I cannot tell you even after we try to explain to them, they want my husband to babysit their kids, or drive their kids somewhere....or handle some fundraiser.
    I have talked to docs who dismiss my symptoms and tell me outright "lets ignore this"

    As for being in remission? I have to stay on my medications or my remission begins to fade. Even ON my medications, remission can fade or go away completely pretty quickly, very suddenly. And some of those medications for my rheumatic illness and Lupus warn of possible psychosis as a possible side effect.

    There are even vitamin supplements that can cause serious mental disturbances...ANYTHING can cause one.
    And sometimes nothing anyone does can change an outcome. I know that is a frightening thought, is a reality.
  18. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Yea, I agree smallworld..........I too am wanting to know this. She had been taking Sam-E for 3 years though - so it is perplexing this sudden onset. However, the Sam-E is the one link that we have to a possible chemical imbalance. I am all over trying to find research on this medication, however, there is little. Such a problem with homeopathic stuff. I know difficult children psychiatrist has been against them from the start for this very reasoon.

    Wynter, I am also wondering whether an autopsy would have been able show if her heart and cardio system were compromised. I will find out.

    Please keep this coming - you guys are amazing. And finding the truth makes me sane. My parents are in a whole different hemisphere when it comes to finding out what the truth really means. Alas...........I have decided to forgive and forget, for H.'s sake...........still really hard.
  19. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    My mother is Schizophrenic. Unless you knew her extremely well, I doubt you'd guess unless you happened upon her during a psychotic episode. She can have anywhere from mild paranoia to severe. She can even have long stretches of time when you might even think she has no mental illness.

    She's a nurse, raised 5 kids, never in trouble with the law, goes to church regularly. I don't think her friends suspect, nor the church, and I know her work never did. And she was never medicated. (yet I could tell tales that would make your hair stand on end.)

    Even what one would consider mild stress can bring on problems with Mom. Illness will do it too. And there are times when it appears to begin with no trigger at all.

    There are several forms of Schizophrenia, and just like with any disorder the symptoms can vary from person to person. So with one person it may be very easy to see, another much more difficult.

    The problem is that it can be so many things, or combination of things. Maybe something will show up in the tests you're waiting on to give you a clue.

    But I can say, if I hadn't lived with my mother during some of her worst psychotic periods, living 2 states from her now I probably wouldn't pick up on when she's having an episode. Often it's small subtle things that first tip you off. With Mom I can tell instantly by looking into her eyes. I can't do that over the phone, so I have to listen for other clues. Sometimes I miss them, even though I know what to look for.

    I hope you are able to get some answers.

  20. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    you know, sometimes even if you DO live with someone every day, you still might miss subtle changes that occur gradually. Maybe a person can come up with logical explanations for things, or maybe in the day to day grind, you simply do not notice things slowly changeing. There are times I make such unnoticeable accomodations for some symptom my husband or kids might exhibit and it is only in hindsight I smack myself and say wow.....I only barely kind of noticed, did auto pilot small adjusts for that, and never realized it was growing. (or getting worse or whatever)

    I hope you can forgive your parents. I am sure they are grieving in their way, on their own schedule, with the life experience and coping skills they have developed over the years. And while some people NEED answers, some people seem to simply feel, if the answers would not change the outcome, or reverse the outcome, maybe the reasons why somethng hapened are not as important?
    And since they are dealing with your fathers illness, they simply might not have the energy to put into questioning things as much.