Bed Bug Psychosis(23 posts)
i wonder whether the psychiatric community has identified any condition directly related to living with bed bugs or suspected infestation of bed bugs. It seems to me that what we are all going through or have gone through in terms of emotional distress, (perhaps even some imagined symptoms or evidence of infestation), doesn't happen with other types of insect infestations. Am i correct in that assumption?
The other day (i didn't mention anything here about it yet because i wasn't sure)..i saw two little things on top of my fitted sheet (which had been on the bed for 3 days and nights). These tiny things sort of looked like the carpet beetle larva. I grabbed my tape and got them affixed to a piece of white paper. I took my glasses and magnifying glass and strong light. I couldn't quite make out what they were but they were dark brown, sort of fat in the middle and narrow at each end. I couldn't make out any hairs but i couldn't be sure because my eye sight is really fading fast these days...
I took the two things over to my dad's house so i could ask him. He looked at them and didn't know what they were...he took down his microscope and examined them. He said they were not insects and looked like seeds.
so what i think i had was two dried cumin seeds...(i had been eating while camping out in the middle of my bed waiting to see if i would be feasted upon by the bugs)...
cumin seeds for crying out loud!
See what i mean? Bed Bug Psychosis...
I agree Deedle....There is definitely something psychological that happens to you once you face a bedbug nightmare. The feeling that they're crawling on you when nothing is there, not wanting to go to sleep, constantly looking around at the walls/ceiling/floor to see if you spot something, isolating yourself from friends/family/social situations....You really do start to feel like there is something wrong with you, which is why I think this forum is so important- you realize you're not alone in your suffering, and that you are not crazy!! At one point I actually started talking to my bugs- I told them their days were numbered, and that they'd be dead soon, and a few other things i won't repeat here!! Then I'd think- what's wrong with you- you're talking to bugs?!!! I'm just glad I can laugh about it now, but I also wonder if I'll ever stop looking around the walls of my bedroom before i go to bed, which makes me kind of sad. It's like your life is divided into 2 stages- BBB (before bedbugs) and ABB. It wouldn't surprise me at all if someone was already studying the psychological effects of this.
i did take a look around the Internet to see what there was...and there are plenty of articles about a condition where someone thinks or believes that they have bugs but they really don't and never did. That is not our situation. We had bugs and we will never be the same. I SO agree with you about BBB and ABB...Before Bed Bugs and After Bed Bugs. I feel i'll never be the same person i was before i had them...or whatever it was i had.
i haven't had a nibble or seen anything suspicious in about 11 days (maybe it's 12) yet in the middle of the night i wake up ..sit straight up in my bed...flick on the light real quick and throw back the sheets just to try to catch one of those bugs....nothing.....i examine the sheets very closely....nothing (except two cumin seeds i found)...i'm PackTiting continuously....and am only half done....Packtiting my dirty clothes before sending to laundry and i'll PackTite them as soon as i bring them back from the laundrymat. You're right about looking around at the walls and ceilings....shaking out everything i put on....living on about three changes of clothing, two bath towels and a couple of pairs of socks. Living without putting the curtains or artwork back up...thinking about getting rid of all the books that made it through my normal Spring purge that i did about 2 months ago....my cleaning lady and i took this place apart then and cleaned every nook and cranny of everything (that was Before BB) and although we weren't looking for bed bugs, we examined everything and she's a real perfectionist about cleaning every single thing completely....so i don't know what happened.
And then there's that feeling that no one wants to talk with you about it. That you're making a nuisance of yourself. That feeling that until someone ehas lived through it, they'll never understand us. My own husband who luckily was 6,000 miles away while i dealt with this on my own, financially and in every way, seems to sort of lose patience or sound really really bored if i mention anything about the PackTite, this website or cleaning or living out of plastic bags...I've told him that there is nothing hanging in the closets but i don't think he really gets it.
i slept the best sleep since the BB thing began. I actually closed my eyes with television and lights out at about 10:30pm and did not wake up until 6:30 in the morning. I haven't had a good night sleep in weeks. Thank goodness. But i did wake up itchy and examining myself and the bed. After my morning shower i felt some itchiness on two parts of my body and thought i saw something like a bite there..like when it starts out looking like a mosquito bite. I put some astringent and neosporin and itch cream on those places....later...nothing there at all...my imagination, for crying out loud!
i have to wash my hair every other day and i have such thick and curly and long hair...takes me 3 hours under the hairdryer...but it has to be done because my scalp feels so darn itchy after a couple of days (normally i could go 4 or even 5 days if i didn't go out much)....but now i get the feeling there's insects living on my scalp so i have to go and shampoo and really scrub my poor scalp using the hottest water possible...After i sit under the dryer it feels so good and of course it's not itchy any more....I want to chop all this hair off and have it so that i can easily wash it every day but my husband would have a heart attack....
life goes on...
I hear u guys! My life has not been the same. I have been traumatized by these [expletive deleted]! I haven't slept well in weeks and I'm up to 2 packs of cigarettes a day. Going 2 get in touch w/a therapist. Tomorrow. Thx - I'm glad I'm not the only one going thru 3 changes of clothes today and endless laundry.
My computer does not let me read or write very much here now. But I want to get in that I certainly agree that BBs give you mental problems.
Also agree! I remember relaxing at my table after a brief reprieve from being bitten. My arm was dangling over my chair. Suddenly I think that if I saw one crawling on me, I'd scream and flail about. So when I moved my arm, I noticed an adult one biting my left hand. And indeed, I screamed--and flailed my arms. Don't know where it went, but I certainly hoped it landed in my Packtite! ;p
In addition to the restless nights, waking up in a panic, frantically searching sheets, I've had nightmares of being bitten. So they haunt me even in my sleep. I've been trying to overcome anxiety issues that I've had for years, and the bugs just compound the problem.
And things in life certainly are different after dealing with (or still dealing with) bed bugs. I'm on constant alert. Every time I see something remotely resembling one, I have to inspect it. I haven't stayed overnight at any relatives, and I haven't been to my mom's since January (before it all started). I think this upsets me the most, because I'm really close to my family.
I'm grateful for this community, though. Glad I joined! =)
Thanks Winston O. Buggy..
That was quite an interesting article. And while the article doesn't discuss our situation -- (where there is a specimin of a bug and skin reactions quite different than those shown in this article and then after the infestation is supposedly dispatched and after two weeks or more of being bitten or seeing a bug a person is still having those creepy crawly feelings and examining everything to be sure there ain't no bug) -- i did learn that perhaps we here on the boards may be suffering from "Bell's syndrom" were we may be passing our sensitivity among us simply by discussing it. Also, i learned that the chemicals used to treat our places may also cause some of those creepy skin sensations.
Here are two parts of the article you may find interesting:
Bell's Syndrome (the Power of Suggestion).
Often, the fact that several people are experiencing
the same sensation is used to demonstrate that it is
not psychological. Scratching behavior is an
atavistic primate response with high psychological
contagiousness (de Leon et al. 1992). Thus,
situations in which more than one person is
complaining of the symptoms are not necessarily
evidence that there is a common cause behind the
Entomologists who deal with delusory
parasitosis cases will attest to this. Despite finding
no arthropod in any samples provided, there is a
strong urge to take a shower following these
examinations. Consciously, one realizes that there is
no infestation, but subconsciously one often feels
the “creepy-crawlies” after looking through the
victim’s scurf. In fact, the author, while reading
through the delusory parasitosis literature in
preparing this article, found herself absentmindedly
scratching; before the manuscript was completed,
her arms and legs bore distinct scarification.
Pesticide exposure can increase
symptom manifestations, both as psychological
responses and as physiological reactions to the
formulation. For instance, the alpha-cyano
pyrethroids are known to produce cutaneous
paresthesia (Pauluhn 1996), and some
organophosphates produce dermatological
manifestations following sustained exposure (Misra
et al. 1985). So, insecticide treatments made in
delusory parasitosis cases may exacerbate the
Some shrink needs to study this problem -- not where a person is completely delusional about a bug problem. But study those of us who can prove we had a bug and then after the problem is supposedly solved, continue to have those sensations.
Don't we have a shrink on board here? I would allow myself to be studied...
And i had a thought today that amused me as i sat in court waiting for my case to be called: How does meth addict react to having a real case of bed bugs? If we're going nuts, they must be completely ZONKERS!!
meant to put quotations marks around those three paragraphs that i quoted...
it's a quote from
Please note that organophosphates referred to are no longer in use for residential treatments as well as most other uses.
But aren't alpha-cyano pyrethroids used?
apparently these also can cause some of the creepy crawly symptoms...
is that untrue?
I'm not too bad about bugs these days. I cured myself of my horror by watching that guy feeding a colony on You Tube. I was so astonished it took away my revulsion and I started reading up about the creatures.
My husband has a similar attitude and attempts to capture them on a nightly basis. He gets very itchy but we find changing the bed linen every couple of days stops the problem of irritated skin.
I was going to post something on this very subject myself, but thought I would search and see if there was something already here, and lo and behold...
I too have been experiencing the same thing after finding out I had bed bugs and taking several measures to get rid of them and avoid future infestations. But still, I wake up at night - just like someone else mentioned - sure that I can feel something crawling on me. I sleep with a flashlight, so I spring up and turn it on, scouring my pillows, seeing if I find one or not. Then, I end up going and looking in the mirror because I am just so sure that I can feel tiny ones crawling on my ears. Ugh!
I believe, as others do, that this may very well be a syndrome all of it's own. I have never experienced this with any other type of bug problems. And I think the fact that their means of feeding is to feed on us, our blood, and while we sleep when we are powerless to shoo them away - is what makes it so disturbing. If they were merely crawling on us, that would be one thing. But the nature of their feeding and survival is what makes it truly uncomfortable for me.
I guess what we might be seeing generally could be considered a 'reactive depression.'
BBB - blissfully unaware
ABB - nervous wreck
What is reactive depression?
A simplistic definition:
S&D - you said it! : )
Well, let's have some fun. Let's create our own diagnosis...
How about -
BBB or Bedbug brain buzz - where ALL you think about are bedbugs
RMM or Red mark mania - the incessant bodily search for red bumps
OSD or Obsessive Search Disorder - the off the wall desire to continually search for evidence
BBD or Bug Bipolar Disorder - when you swing between anxiously waiting for a new bite and the deep downer you feel when you find one (and it's really a bite).
I've been/was bite free for a month, and now lately I think I've been getting bitten again...and there's my BF telling me it's all in my head.
This thread gives me hope that it IS all in my head. I think I'm seeing welts because I WANT to see them, not because they're actually there.
I shave my legs and get an ingrown hair. = BB Bite
I have a common zit on my neck or face. = BB Bite
I get itchy because I'm allergic to laundry detergent that isn't free and clear = BB Bite
It's hard to do the 60 day bit with me since my skin is so sensitive and breaks out easily.
I have white sheets with no sign of bugs...I got pen ink on them though and there's a rust spot where they got caught on my bed in a rusty area, which I think was caused by my bleach rampage. What I think is a blood spot always turns out to be ink or dirt or something. I haven't seen a cast skin in a while, and I haven't seen a live bug in a month.
Hopefully I am just going nuts.
DB: I guess I am the resident 'shrink.' And I am fascinated by the emotional reactions people are having to bb's, real or imagined, as I've posted a few times. I am thinking about this topic a lot. I feel this, this near hysteria, is the most outstanding feature of the bb resurgence from what I am seeing in friends, in myself, and on the board.
Where to go from here, I'm not sure, but I'm watching this phenomena. PM's welcome.
Not literally the same that some of us may be experiencing, but I think these two links on Mass Mass psychogenic illness (mass hysteria) might have some parallels.
I have to agree with nycyn, about the hysteria being the most marked feature of the current epidemic - and for me, the most difficult to deal with.
Ever since discovering I had them, I have had these "phantom crawling" sensations all over my body, every couple of minutes or so; particular areas that seem most affected for me include my ears, my legs (which are pretty hairy), and the back of my neck. As I am sitting here typing this, I feel the sensation of something tiny moving around in my chest hairs - but I looked, and there is nothing there. Unless of course it is so small that I cannot see it, which I would rather not think about at all.
I don't recall ever having had these sensations BBB (before bed bugs - I like that whole BBB - ABB nomenclature and am totally going to use it) and so it has to be related to having found them. My question is - is there any relief for this, or is it something we sufferers may have to deal with at least until we can be 100% confident they are gone (if that is even possible), or maybe even for the rest of our lives?
I am already on anti-depressants (not for this, been on them for years) and see a therapist regularly. But as the originator of this thread asked, and others alluded to - is it possible there might need to be some new form of therapy to deal with these feelings? I noticed someone else said, perhaps in another thread, that trying not to think about it all doesn't work, and in my case, that is totally true. I am not even that worried about the bugs, consciously at least, but keep getting this damn feeling of something small crawling on me. Is there any relief for this? Is there any hope that there will be soon?
Lord knows I am praying for such. Even had a powerful meditation last night where I tried to empathize with them - for what reasons, I'm not sure; perhaps thinking that on some spiritual level, it might serve to let them know that I feel for them. Kinda' crazy, hunh? But at this point, I am willing to do about anything I can to be rid of these sensations. I know others can relate. And thank God for this forum. If anything, it's good to know I'm not going crazy alone!
I haven't seen any bugs in weeks, nor have I been bitten. But as I freely express on these forums, I'm still skittish. I freak out when my hair brushes my neck or arm, positive that something's crawling on me. When I sweat in the gym, I'm sure there's bugs on me. If the a/c blows on my arm hairs, I'm sure it's bbs. If anything touches me, I'm sure it's bbs.
Ironically, if I'm sleeping with my bf, I feel safer, as if he'll protect me from any.
I'm thinking i'm probably fine since I don't have any signs and the last ones I've seen were dead in the DE, but I still worry over every piece of lint and stray hair that touches me.
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