When I originally started Breathing with a Noose, it was intended to be a therapeutic tool, an extension of my regularly scheduled therapy to help me work through the memories and process the trauma caused by living such an extended length of time with psychosis.
Writing under a pseudonym, Noose Girl, writing about the absurdity and loss allowed me to fully accept what had happened and gave me an outlet where, aside from therapy, none existed in society. The stigma surrounding the stereotype and the internal shame weighted me down and fortified my depression.
But as I continued to write, I began to experience the most unexpected, remarkable, interactions. Comments began pouring in. Others struggling with pain and loss from their own psychosis or those with loved ones challenged by mental illness began to thank me, share their own experiences, and encouraged me to continue to write.
The feedback not only encouraged my writing but inspired my movement into advocacy and my life has dramatically been transformed into a vehicle for change and progression.
Now I write about much more than my journey into insanity. But they are unique and mesmerizing stories all the same. This page is a collection of my posts about what it is like to live with acute paranoid psychosis.
Posts about what it is like to live with psychosis
The last significant social upheaval that ushered in an enormous amount of stress and inconvenience in my life and community was the 2015 Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore. Capturing the attention of our country and covered by national news, the unrest was incited by outrage over the death of a 25-year-old black man at the hands of the Baltimore police. The crisis lasted for five days, during which the entire time, I was full-blown psychotic.
I found myself on youtube searching for vintage Mr. Rogers episodes. The shows were pure, kind, inspiring . . and most of all, I was unable to detect any subliminal messages or directives from the government.
I get home and search the basement to find the two tools needed to complete my strategy in undermining the government’s efforts from contaminating my food. I find what I need is in just the places I knew to look. The duct tape sat dutifully in the toolbox. And the six-pack sized Igloo resting alongside it’s larger cooler counterpart.
Now that my psychosis has cleared and I am almost two years into the recovery effort, it is hard for others to understand why I’m not immediately back up and functioning in a high-level management position as if nothing ever happened.
Sitting on the floor in front of what appears to be the beginnings of a start-up band, I am racking my brain to make sense of it all. Why did the government want me to be proficient in music? They had trained me in piano, but I had no experience with drums. Why would they include a full drum set along with free furniture and a piano?
Experts tell family members to keep their statements short, simple and clear. Speak in a calm voice. Give the person physical space rather crowding them. Don’t challenge them over the delusions.
Because of my mom’s interest in science and my dad’s fascination with technology, I was heartily fed a steady diet of STEM-oriented toys and social engagements. Instead of Barbie, I was given chemistry sets, programmable toys, rock and fossil collections, electric race car sets, and home computers. Instead of sports camps like many of my friends, I was sent to science camps, museum schools and foreign language lessons.
I found this new approach of stimulating empathy and understanding by combining neuroscience and video games particularily interesting. As VR, and VR type experiences, increasingly become woven into the fabric of our culture for entertainment, industry, training, and education. It is not surprising that a “video game” has been created to allow the User to experience severe psychosis. It is the technological version of what I am trying to communicate with this blog.
In frustration and protest, I called my own personal strike. I refused to get involved or participate in any thing with my new housemates. And to further demonstrate my objection to these oppressive conditions, I refused to help with anything until someone finally agreed to be honest and explain who they were and what was going on.
I recognized the young grasshopper phrase from Kung Fu, a show on television I watched when I was a child. I don’t know what prompted him to address me in such away. But my internal response was quick and powerful, this man was a government secret agent and he was delivering a message to me.
At the Tool concert, I was full blown psychotic. The environment delivered an overwhelming assemblage of “weird people” or actors and secret agents.They congregated and circulated all around me, each one purposefully placed to manipulate and deliver coded instructions.
Because of this one business card, I concluded that I would be made to defecate, bleed and urinate in front of the cult. And I believe the completion of the ritual would require that I perform humiliating in the cage. I knew the experience was engineered to break the human will and create a vulnerable demeanor complementary to execute procedures meant to forge obedience and condition the mind for control to create the disposition of eager acceptance dependant on orders and direction.
And just like the prior 3 years of living and working in psychosis, no one knew the hidden truth. No one suspected the depth and pain of my internal struggles. No one had an inkling that I passed the weekend away in a hospital mental ward. And no one would have ever fathomed that I believed the entire business was a government front and that most of the employees were secret agents.
The loss of Shade was one of, if not the most, devastating and heartbreaking casualties resulting from my cataclysmic collapse into severe psychosis.
I took several photos for Instagram and Twitter. But as I took the photos, an unsettling awareness lingered throughout my body. In the near future, this uneasy discomfort would evolve, intensify, and become a part of my daily existence. It was one of the first samplings of what it feels like to live with acute psychotic delusion. Nevertheless, I carried on with my project. And as I photographed the mourners, I was certain that someone else was watching, photographing and following me from store to store.
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.”