I’m bipolar and thought I caused the COVID-19 pandemic
A woman has revealed the terrifying psychosis she said she developed that convinced her she was responsible for COVID-19.
Natasha Rea, 33, said she was misdiagnosed with a “mood disorder” at age 14, before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder about 10 years later, in 2013.
Rea, from England, reported feelings of intense emotions, deep periods of depression, anxiety and unpredictable manic episodes — with the latter causing her to hyperfixate on certain things. She said she also suffered physical problems.
“There are days I can’t move my legs, and my anxiety affects my bowels,” she explained to SWNS, adding sometimes her symptoms were so bad she couldn’t “move or get out of bed.”
The mom of one said her mania intensified during lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic, and she experienced her first episode of psychosis in March 2020.
“I thought I’d caused COVID and was responsible for the pandemic,” she recalled.
“I had been consumed and worried about the virus and the fact I couldn’t go out to get my mom’s shopping list.”
Rea said she kept hearing a voice saying, “You think you have time,” and she spent eight hours in a deserted hospital pacing the corridors.
“I wondered why they were playing the Greatest Showman on repeat and why Graham on reception was cleaning his hands with pink Carex cleanser,” she said. “I still don’t know if Graham was real or if they were playing the Greatest Showman.”
Rea said she first realized the extent of her illness after having her son in 2011. Her mother suffered a heart attack three months later, and her mental health plummeted.
The creative said she felt like she “couldn’t talk to anybody,” which culminated in a breakdown on the side of a road.
“I worked 40 to 50 hours a week, and I had the worst intrusive thoughts,” she admitted.
“I slammed on the breaks near Toys ‘R’ Us, got out of the car and just stood there,” she recalled. “I just broke down, like, somebody needs to help me.”
Rea went to the doctors, thinking something was physically wrong with her. She said she was eventually referred to a mental health specialist, but had to keep pushing for someone to listen to her.
At the end of 2018, she overdosed and ended up in a hospital. She had also overdosed in 2005, prior to her diagnosis.
Rea wants people to understand that bipolar symptoms aren’t the same for everyone. She praised Selena Gomez for candidly discussing her own experiences in her documentary, “My Mind and Me.”
“I think it’s really important Selena Gomez has come forward to speak about bipolar because she has such a young fan base,” she said, adding she’s “thankful there is mainstream discussion taking place” showing the condition “isn’t simply high and low moods.”
Rea is on mood stabilizers to manage her symptoms, although she says it’s vital for people to understand there isn’t one medication that works for everyone, She credits exercise, diet and her own creativity in helping her manage her symptoms.
Rea — who is the Bipolar UK ambassador — released a book, “Me, Myself and Bipolar Brenda: The Journals of a Happy Soul with a chaotic mind.” She says she no longer apologizes for her illness.
“I promised myself I would never apologize ever again for being ill — it is like apologizing for who I am,” she said.
“I encourage [my friends] to have open and honest conversations with me.”
According to Healthline, psychosis in people with bipolar disorder can happen during manic or depressive episodes, but is more common during episodes of mania.
Psychosis tends to develop slowly over time. It most commonly manifests as a mood congruent — amplifying the mood before a manic or depressive episode — but sometimes as a mood incongruent — contradicting the mood.