“breathing with a noose” – a drawing

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.

5 thoughts on ““breathing with a noose” – a drawing

  1. Thank you noose girl for inviting me to your blog and for reading about my own experiences with psychosis on my blog. Your experiences sound way more extreme and frightening than mine. I’m glad you’ve recovered.

    Now that my psychosis is over, I’m trying to review it with more sane and scientific eyes, a bit like you’re doing. I’ve been pondering the mechanics of how psychosis works. I wonder how much “motivated reasoning” has to do with it – we believe things simply because we want them to be true.

    I also wonder if it’s something to do with our brain’s pattern-matching ability going into overdrive and seeing significant connections where there aren’t really any – like seeing faces in clouds.

    I’m not convinced that all psychosis is bad. In fact, plenty of it seems to give pleasure and comfort to some people (like me). I don’t see anything wrong with believing in something “strange” or “weird”, as long as that belief doesn’t cause harm or suffering to ourselves or others.

    I’m really lucky in that I absolutely love re-evaluating what I think I know, trying to find better explanations for things, trying to stay humble and open-minded. So as I re-evaluate some of the “weird” things I felt and believed during psychosis, I find it quite comforting. It’s a bit like re-exploring a land where you know you’ve been before, but everything looks different now. It’s very curious! And I’m wondering if you have the same sense of curiosity and joy as you re-evaluate the world now that you’re well.

    Take care – I’ll definitely be reading more of your blog!


    1. No, I would agree that not all of the psychosis was bad. It led me to experience amazing things and meet remarkable people. I agree with you that much of it could be attributed to apophenia or the human tendency to detect patterns in random information. I think that may have been exacerbated by my bipolar and ADHD diagnosis.
      But no, there was nothing ever comforting about the “weird” things I encountered while psychotic. It was absolutely unnerving, disturbing and terrifying. It’s amazing I was able to hold down as many jobs as I did and function in social environments. I was constantly on alert that at any moment I would be confronted with the truth. And I never knew what form that may take . . most often I believed it would be some form of abduction without my consent.


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