I open my Eye.
The Light dances with Darkness
In gravest beauty
photo credit: Engines of Light via photopin (license)
I open my Eye.
The Light dances with Darkness
In gravest beauty
photo credit: Engines of Light via photopin (license)
If I could do everything over again, I wish I had set aside my mission of interpreting my psychotic experiences aside for later to work on after I had recovered more. Think of it as allowing the fresh, immature flavors of the experience to steep for a while and come back in a truer form that turns into something remotely consumable.
A psychotic experience is inherently an experience so great that I can’t wrap my mind around it. As every month passes, I understand more of it, and every few years, my interpretation of it may completely shift in certain aspects of it. Not only can I not wrap my mind around it, I have no frame of reference within my experiences in real life to contain it or frame it or allow my mind to interpret it.
The stories of my psychotic experiences have taken years to unravel as much as they have and allowed me to start understanding them. I liken these stories to a fractal. I can zoom in on any part or aspect of it and it has a seemingly infinite number of interpretations and implications, no matter where I look, and I find myself getting lost in the beginning.
If I need to revisit my experiences before I’m ready to, I do it in two ways.
The first is to talk about it with people I trust, to vent and to describe to them what happened. This helps me expose some air to all those experiences I had.
The second way is to deal with them more in my journals. If I have problems obsessing about them, I write down the content in my journals, and develop a mental plan of action as to how I can ignore these thought patterns in the future and explain to myself why I need to do so. I need to focus on what is important, recovery, and deciphering fractals of psychotic experiences right after they happened is not the road to recovery. It only leads to more grief.
That being said, after I get to a point where I can handle doing so without triggering my bipolar symptoms, I find it helpful to write down snippets or stories in great detail of what happened during my episodes. This serves two purposes: 1. It helps provide a fresh look later on when I reflect on my journals and look to see and remember what actually happened during my breaks in the forefront of my mind. 2. It helps me process the experiences at face value and understand what content there is in my psychotic breaks to allow me to recognize thought patterns I need to avoid.
In both of my psychotic breaks, God did not abandon me. He was there on every level each step of the way. Sometimes I was aware at the time, sometimes I wasn’t. In any case, God gave me a lot to handle but never anything more than I could. The same is true today. Always.
photo credit: Borderline Biennale 2011 – L’Histoire de l’Oeil, François Moncarey & Kevin Ramseier (CENC) acting performance IMG_4165 via photopin (license)
Everything can be interpreted in my mind as spiritual, if I wish to do so. It could be God’s will that this timer went off on my phone right at this moment for a reason, possibly to call a girl I’m interested in, or a reminder from God that I’m loved by him. Perhaps the very numbers in the hour, minutes and seconds in accordance with the date mean God’s trying to tell me to do something extraordinary out of the blue.
Also, my disorder tries to tell me things as well. It really zooms in on seemingly insignificant details and makes them my entire world for minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months, years, a decade – if not in the forefront of my mind then lingering in the background, always. When I throw the idea of demons into the mix, things just seem to escalate, even to the point where I was afraid to look at myself in a mirror for fear of terrible things happening to me when I do so.
What is real? Where has my foundation gone if God is speaking to me in ways that are pathological? Why when I pray does my mood fluctuate and God become so close yet inaccessible? How long will things be like this? Forever?
First, I ask myself… what is important? What is not important?
What IS important? The answer to this, I know, is different for everyone, but some things are universally the same. For instance, getting better is important. Surrounding myself with people whom I love and trust is important. Finding out how to get better is important. Relearning how to become a happy, functional person is important. How does one get there? That is the journey. Embrace it, try not to dread it all the time. In the process of getting better, I have polished most of my life’s most precious gems and gone through the harshest of life experiences.
What IS important? Learn more about bipolar I disorder and schizoaffective disorder. Learn everything I can about it from the clinical side and personal experiences I can gather from people who’ve gone through it in books and conversations. This allows me to take ownership of my disorder and make it a smaller piece of who I am. When fighting mental illness, knowledge can have much power.
What is NOT so important? The number one unimportant thing for me is proving to myself whether something of questionable origin or reality is real or not. It may seem important to know whether what happened was real or not. However, trying to prove or disprove what happened is moot. What happened happened. For example, I will go crazy if I try to prove or disprove the reality of that experience of the boy teaching me real magic in the insane asylum. If it’s not real, then I’m crazy for thinking it in the first place… if I focus on it being reality, I will be sucked into the world of seeking real magic and end up back in the hospital. Trying to prove spiritual or psychotic experiences are real or not real is a lose-lose situation. Instead, I see them as being there as valid experiences I had and set them aside.
What is NOT so important? God speaking to me literally in my thoughts, ears, events, or random associations. The real truth is expressed and lived out, not a revelation straight from God. Does God communicate through the Spirit like that on occasion? Most certainly, but not all the time, to the point where I feel the need to witness to every weary soul on the face of the planet or have a detailed itinerary planned out for every moment that changes in a second’s notice.
So, what do I focus on? I focus on what IS important. I set aside what I cannot handle to deal with later. I figure things out by writing it out in my journal, so I can lay it out in front of myself. I apply what I learn to my mind. When I get a handle on it, I can start living it out in the world.
My apologies for taking so long to write. I hope to write again soon.
Twelve years ago, I was newly diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, reminiscent of bipolar I. I’m now spending a little bit of time reflecting on what that was like at the time.
I remember that every detail had a purpose and God was in control of every aspect of every detail. Every detail, big and small, came from God and I denied myself in the process. It seemed like the Christian thing to do, to deny oneself and give the reigns to God to control.
This added fuel to the raging fires of bipolar problems I was going through at the time. My mood was varying between mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed, sometimes cycling multiple times a minute. One second I feel like things are looking up and God is in control and everything is going to be ok until it hits me and I get a sinking feeling that I will amount to nothing and the pain comes, which is darker than hades itself and all I want to do is kill myself and make it stop.
On top of that, I was extremely confused about who I was. I had no clue, other than that I was successful and intelligent at one point and I felt I was no more. I had lost everything and it wasn’t coming back ever again. I didn’t even like how I looked even though I was a very handsome young man.
My psychotic break was the cherry on top of this whole situation. My mind went places no one could understand. It left me completely and utterly alone, cut off from God. If I were to start thinking about religion or God or start praying, my delusions came back and my mood would skyrocket on the spot. Prayer was of no help. The Bible only fed my delusions.
I was lost in every true sense of the word.
Now, to give you an idea of how lost I was, bring all of the above to the forefront of your mind and don’t stray your attention away from it. All of it happens at once in varying degrees. This was my world, then. It was all I could know and experience for months if not years. Demons followed me and coerced me, God was there and all powerful but controlling and deliberate, yet oh so distant from my mind, heart, and soul to the touch.
I’ll try to put it all together:
I have no idea who I am other than that I’m a loyal follower of God that holds everything in his hands and nothing happens without his say so, but when I try to pray or talk to Him, my heart races and I get an adrenaline rush then my mind starts racing and I have to stop only to keep my head from going up Satan’s ass so to speak, who is also trying to convince me that I’m the second Christ or the antichrist (it sounds silly but all I have to do is say the words and I become more powerful than I can imagine) and he’s using his will power to coerce me into believing one of the two (or both), that is I’m the second Christ or the antichrist, and while all these things are on my mind, my mood is skyrocketing and plummeting by the split minute so God feels so close then so far away the next instant then my mind races again about how I’m such a failure and can’t go anywhere in life and I should just shoot myself now or slice my wrists, but my therapist reminded me that I’m a person who has people in my life who would miss me if I were to die, but it won’t stop and it needs to stop!
It hurt. This was only the surface.
My heart goes out to everyone who has just come out of a psychotic episode. You’re not alone in this experience, no matter how mysterious it was.
It’s good to be back.
photo credit: Beauty Of The Flames via photopin (license)
The second story about a boy I met in the crisis stabilization unit during my first break. Later, I learned to call him, “John Raymond.”
Here I am, sitting in an uncomfortable hospital chair as I flip through the TV channels with the remote. All the usual: news, weather, cartoons, soap operas. I settle for the weather, as I know I haven’t been outside for the past several days nor will I be outside soon. I’m on lock down. I lean back and try to relax just this once.
Then he comes in, that boy, as darkness and pestilence trickles over my inner being and seeps in. I suffer silently and try to ignore him but I can’t keep him out. I look him in his unusually dark eyes as he stands behind me in the corner of the small room. The TV feels different and the sound cuts out. I look back and the caption feature turns on. A black subtitle box appears, filling almost the entire screen with obscene text images scrolling across the TV from right to left. I check for the remote and it’s in my hand. I hadn’t pushed anything and the caption button doesn’t work.
The boy starts laughing hysterically. He pierces me in the eyes with his look and thoughts appear in the forefront in my mind: “Give up! Follow me, and you will have great powers. Denounce Him! You are better than Him!” With all my will and calling upon Christ, the thoughts stop. Not a word is spoken between us.
The TV then switches to the news and the subtitle box shrinks to normal size with normal captions. I don’t feel relief at all, as sure enough the words then begin hailing Satan for the atrocities in the Middle East, the topic of the news special. They then transition into some sort of evil-sounding speech as I tried to pronounce it in my head, with scattered symbols here and there that seem like white noise interference. I sense the army of darkness present everywhere as I recite the evil speech internally: here in this god-forsaken w/e unit it is (not even a hospital), and in every part of the world.
The channel changes to cartoons. More white random symbols appear in the caption box and I look at the boy. He’s staring very intently at me with his body in a contorted posture. I draw my attention to the TV and right before my eyes, there is a story appearing in the captions in front of me: a combination of the visuals in the cartoon, my thoughts, and my deepest fears and darkest secrets, all in a seamless, flowing story of a most obscene nature. Then it describes how and when I die, relating to the cartoon visuals and elaborates on the mess I make after I slit my wrists up the middle in the bathroom.
I clench the remote and try everything I can: turning off captions, changing channel, turning off the TV, all to no prevail. I remind myself that God never gives me more than I can handle. I can do this!
I push the power button on the TV, but it snaps right back on… once, twice, three times. I pull the plug and the image disappears, the remote in my hands the entire time. The boy then makes a fantastic feat with his body in a most unusual contortion and grins. His faded eyes roll back in his head as he begins a deep, dark seance.
The unplugged TV turns on to white noise with evil sounds coming out of it getting progressively louder. I look up a the monitor and an image of a creature begins to appear that I recognize as demonic from an encounter I had previously. I shriek. This is about to make me do something stupid, and look at the new staff member I’d never seen before and mouth, “help!” as I didn’t want to appear crazy and start yelling.
She glances over her shoulder at the boy and he topples over. She yells, “That’s enough!” and the TV shuts off. Darkness and pestilence morph into shalom in a dovetail heartbeat. I never saw that worker again, and wonder to this day if she was an angel.
During my first break in the crisis stabilization unit, I met a young boy who was what I believed at the time to be demonically disturbed. He had the ability to look at me and incite torment, along with putting his body in grotesque postures while channeling negative energy where he pleased. I have a few stories about him, and this is one of them.
The care provider orders me to go into HIS room, the young boy’s room, and she slams the door after I get in. I hear a commotion outside and I see my roommate through the window as he flies by on a wheeled stretcher, going into shock.
Must have been that bag of white powder he snuck in upon arrival, which I retorted to him, “That must not be powdered sugar.”
Fortunately, the boy is sleeping. However, as time passes, I feel a different presence take part of this boy. He is covered in scars from I don’t know what. I feel peace now, instead of torment and agony, and he wakes up. He and I are on the same wavelength.
He grins at me and picks up a fresh deck of cards. The boy must be only 12 or 13 at most. We start to play Indian poker, and I notice that he is winning every time. I ask him how he’s cheating! He explains to me that he is not, and I know that something was going on. Somehow, he knows what his card is – at which point he says, “You have that power, too.”
Next, he does a card trick. The simple – pick a card, any card and I’ll find it for you. This time, I hold the deck, shuffle it, and I pick a card. I look at it, and place it in the deck and shuffle a few times. He then takes the cards from me, feels the cards and pulls out my card every time. “How is that possible?” He does this to every card I choose, no matter how thoroughly I hide it in the deck. He tells me to pick another card, but the moment I look at it he tells me what card it is. I check for mirrors, inspect the deck for sliders and marks; nothing! He says to me, “You have that power, too.”
I felt a tug of war inside of me, one side explaining that I’m crazy and this is all nonsense, while the other explains that I do have faith and all of this is real in its own way. One side explains to me that this is the devil’s trickery, while the other says that I have God’s blessing to listen to this boy. After enduring his hell placed upon me, I’m in the light. Listen.
He looks me in the eyes, takes a deep breath, and closes them. “Know the card,” he says. I shuffle the deck thoroughly. I feel as though I’m letting him into my thoughts a little and I pick up a card. The moment I see it, he tells me what it is, and again. “Don’t look at it! That makes it too easy for me!” He then recites several cards to me without anyone looking at them, every time, then faster than I can pick them up – all correct. Somehow, I am on the same wavelength and I understand. I just have to use the same impulse what I call “faith” and know what card it is.
He starts me with Indian poker. I place the card on my forehead, and struggle to convince myself that I know what the card is without getting anywhere. The boy says, “You’re doing it wrong – have faith.” Ok, so I can’t know, but I can have faith that I know. I feel as though a new muscle in my mind twitches and the card is what it is.
I am able to know what each card is in Indian poker, and the card trick as well.
Then I arrive at the point where the boy shuffles the deck, and pulls up one card at at a time. I start slowly, but recite as though saying a sentence all of the cards he pulls up till I’m looking at him and he’s not looking at the cards. The rest of the cards follow in a stream of faces and suits and I recite the remainder in the order of the deck.
The boy is laughing and grinning very big at this point. “Now,” he says, “Keep shuffling till you know you stop.” I shuffled several times, cutting it, and shuffling, until something felt very much in order. I rearrange a few cards blindly. “Done,” I inform him. “Deal us in.” Queen, Ten, King, Jack, and Ace of spades for me. Full house for him.
The boy, exhausted, climbs back into bed. He looks me in the eye and I see visions of ancient people invade my thoughts, and he informs me, “Call me John Raymond. My mom calls me that,” then falls asleep.
When he wakes up, I call him “John Raymond,” and he snaps into a perfectly normal, sweet young boy: not a demon or a prophet.
I finally got around to making a proper “about me” section. Thanks and enjoy!
In part 1, I described my experiences with phones during my second hospitalization for psychotic mania. My second break was more of a trippy, metaphysical journey I had, and very different from my first hospitalization. During my first hospitalization, I was in hell.
My first break happened while I was on a family Christmas vacation out of state. I completely decompensated on or around Christmas day, and the only place I could go was a seedy crisis stabilization unit. There, the patients were far gone to begin with, and I was in tune with what was going on around me spiritually. It was truly horrifying. Unfortunately, I don’t have my records as a reference point to what was happening in reality, so I just have the memories of what I experienced first hand.
I noticed that when patients would start talking on the phone, they would fade away and start changing into a different person. I didn’t know what was going on at the time, so I just stayed away from the phone. However, curiosity got the best of me, and I tried listening to the earpiece. All I heard were pops, crackles, and a feeling of me being sucked in. I put the earpiece down immediately.
Then it was time for me to see the doctor. When I heard that, all I felt was dread. I sensed he was a truly evil man. When I got in to the room to see him, he basically asked me why I was there. After my manic strings of answers, he replied. I cannot remember his face other than that I saw two voids for eyes and he looked like nothing I had ever seen before. “I can FIX you,” he said. He handed me a phone and told me to talk on it. I refused. He tried pressuring me hard, and I opened the door and ran out.
Later, I had a brief memory of me in a dark room wearing some sort of helmet that someone was dialing in signals that I could feel into my brain. I felt myself going out of my body to some place else, and entering a realm that I experienced later during my second break, verbatim. I saw many things, and I felt like someone was trying to steal me. I fought back hard, and snapped to in the dark room, threw the helmet off, and ran back into my unit.
I believed they were “curing” these people by attaching healthy souls to them, and part of it had to do with the phones they were strongly encouraging people to use.
That psychiatrist prescribed me Geodon. I refused it, because I could never trust a doctor who tells me “I can fix you,” in such a calm, matter-of-fact demeanor; someone whose face I couldn’t see.
Fortunately, they had another psychiatrist on a different day and she seemed trustworthy. I took the Abilify she prescribed, brand new at the time.
Phones of any kind had a strange role within my perceptions while I was in the middle of my psychotic episodes. It was simply bizarre during my first episode, which I haven’t written much about yet. During my 2nd episode, I had a few encounters with phones.
I remember making a phone call on my cell to a friend of mine. On my end, I tried to talk to him and heard him speaking, then my whole perception would change and all I heard was static coming from the phone. As it faded back in, I could hear him talking again like normal. Then it would get fuzzy, and static again. I talked to him while it was static and when I could hear him, he asked questions about what I had just said to him, so he could hear me just fine. It’s like my brain was switching channels on me, tuning in and out of the frequencies of the phone. When it tuned out, I heard the static and something… unexplainable.
The other encounter I had with a phone in the hospital on my second break was I felt an overwhelming dread when I saw the pay phone ring, and I rushed to prevent a fellow patient from answering it. I believed pay phones were dangerous from experiences I had in the hospital during my first episode. However, a certain staff member saw this immediately and told me just what I needed to hear, that this is a safe hospital with good staff, who aren’t out to harm anyone. I then thought nothing further of the issue other than remembering phones at the other hospital during my first break.