I can think of no better way to express how I’m feeling. Drawing a caricature of myself, I perch naked and wild-eyed, perilously teetering on the edge of a stool. A noose hangs loosely around my neck.
The caption reads, “Yes, I can breathe . . . but it’s still a noose.”
When I drew my perilous portrait, I didn’t believe I was psychotic. Everything I perceived to be happening was 100% reality to me.
Having cut off all contact with my family, I had fled to New York City. My actions were driven by the belief that I was being manipulated and controlled by a secret, nameless, all-powerful, world organization.
And I was a product of their power. Bred and engineered to save the world, I was convinced that I was at the center of a top-secret project. My primary mission was to strengthen our country’s collective comprehension of science and technology through the vehicles of art and music.
Once the first mission was complete, I knew there was a subsequent mission waiting. And this project was a doozy. I believed this underground enterprise had selected me for the highest position of world power. I had been chosen to become the first female President of the United States. I was destined for the White House.
The stress was unimaginable. Believing I could be abducted at any time, I experienced no peace during the day and accomplished zero rest at night. My self-portrait was a desperate attempt to get a message to the government. I was trying to tell them that, yes, I can somewhat function now, but not for much longer. The drawing was a plea for help. Please take the noose off my neck.
But the psychosis continued, and towards the end, the distorted and paranoid delusions grew in intensity. They became more extreme, compounded, and ultimately evolved to include hearing voices. I was coming angry and closer to lashing out. I was concerned I could possibly hurt the people I believed to be incessantly following me.
Yes, in the end, these final internal fallacies were severe. But compared to the total experience, these last delusions only served as the crescendo of a long relationship with madness. I had been living with psychosis for years.
Although I have had a couple of relapses, I no longer suffer from psychosis. My recovery process evokes a constant state of review and replay between sanity and insanity. It’s sort of like being reincarnated, but you have full memory of everything from your old life. There are some strong similarities to the symptoms of PTSD.
For example, everything and everyone I once believed was part of a secret government conspiracy now holds new and unfamiliar values. Almost nothing is exempt from a perception revisit and necessary shift in my understanding . . . .the people I met, the jobs I held, the events I attended, the places I traveled. Everything old is new, and in many cases, nothing like I once understood them to be. I reevaluate each person, location, and thing through new sane eyes as if I’ve never had the encounter before.
While still in recovery, this blog serves as part of my treatment. It allows me to process what happened while participating in the movement to raise mental health awareness through writing, advocacy, and volunteer work with NAMI. (National Alliance for Mental Illness)
My stories range from humorous to intriguing . . . to tragic to raw. I invite you to comment, question, and initiate dialogue relating to mental illness awareness. Thank you for helping me educate, correct misinformation, and fight the stigma.