At the time of writing my last post (on writers block and mental illness) I was fairly stressed. I sometimes think that it’s hardly the symptoms which have the real affect on me now, it’s my reactions to the symptoms.
A psychotic or delusional thought/notion will pop into my head, and it pisses me off because I immediately think “I know that’s crap, why am I still being affected by these bat-shit crazy ideas, why are they still coming into my head?”
Then I freak out, and think “what if this never goes away, what if I keep having these experiences forever, what if I keep feeling like this forever?: I create this nice little ‘thought knot’ with anger, fear and frustration- all the best feelings to lump together.
This is the point at which psychosis really comes into its own (read in a highly sarcastic tone) – because it allows my head, or my thought process, to jump past all the rational barriers preventing a ‘sane’ person from worrying about such things as “what if the sky were to fall down,” and causes that ‘thought knot’ to take on a malevolent life of its own.
I start to freak out, about the possibility of freaking out; I start to freak out about potential.
This is a brilliant “self fulfilling prophesy” which is made all the more frustrating because I know that that is what’s happening, I know that I am creating this feeling of the sky descending onto me… all by myself.
The only person I can beat up for doing this to me is- myself.
The negative sensations are so strong that when they start to come on, when I start to sense them, they freak me out and I start to tense up. Queue start of an emotional sequence that feels so strong it’s as if something is trying to break it’s way out of my chest, and is wrestling with my rib-cage in its manic desire to be free of me.
The problem with this illness, is that the sensations and emotions it provokes are so strong, that trying to leave them behind can be tricky. It’s like being punched in the face multiple times, and then being informed that they only way to prevent it happening again is to forget about being punched in the face.
It seems paradoxical, which is so very frustrating.
The flip side to this is that the positive experiences, which come hand in hand with the ones which make you want to retch with stress, are also so profoundly strange- trying to forget about them is as hard, if not harder than forgetting about the negative ones.
I often find that a part of my mind has wandered back to the last ‘positive’ symptom I had, and is wondering “what was that?” It is like having the most vivid, intense dream; you wake up, and think “wow that was so strange!” It leaves an impression because it was so strong, and so utterly mind boggling.
This is the other side to my mental illness.
Moments when my vision seems more acute, and colours seem brighter, or sharper somehow. It is as if my eyes have opened up a tiny bit more and I’m able to see the edges of things differently, like all boundaries have a different feel; they’re softer somehow.
Every now and again one of the voices will say something that is so insightful, and so thought provoking, that I am left wondering “what aspect of my head was that, where did that thought come from?”
I think that the last such comment was “let the lines flow naturally; let it all flow in the way that makes the most sense.” This is fairly abstract, but when I conceptualise my illness as being caused by some kind of blockage in my mind, this advice starts to seem astute and sensible.
I sometimes cannot help but wonder about my illness, wondering about the ramifications of it, and whether it means more than purely brain chemicals over or under producing.
Unfortunately, wondering about it does not let me move on from it! It only keeps me spiralling around a massive black hole of uncertainty, intrigue and stress.
Moving past these experiences is achieved by finding things which are as fantastic, as profound to fill the gap in my soul which mental illness filled for a while. I know that, and the process is already into it’s later stages. Since being with my boyfriend these negative experiences have slowly yet steadily decreased, and I find I’m not wondering about any of them so much anymore.
When reality is rich enough to plug that hole in your psyche that psychosis blasted- that is when you know you’re on the right track. I have made a conscious decision to leave all the mystery of this illness behind- it was fun to consider for a while, but I now find that I am preferring solid facts, rather than meandering possibilities and delusional jigsaws.
I spent a long time searching for lost pieces, before I realised the picture I was staring at really wasn’t that compelling anymore.
Psychosis is mysterious and strange, profoundly moving at times and terrifying at others; but now it is what I want to leave behind me, something which I want to move past.
Stressing about it isn’t going to help me, it is a long process of re-tuning, readjusting so that my focus is outwards rather than inwards. It is a process of actively forgetting- or at least accepting that all the things which seemed to happen to me which were mind-blowing and deeply profound now only work to enrich my imagination.
I am currently working on several ideas for novels which have characters suffering from various kinds of mental illness, and I hope to be able to re-frame all of my wondering and intrigue into stories of protagonists who are suffering but ultimately reach peace and places of empowerment after their baffling experiences.
For this illness can definitely called baffling. It is baffling and moving and downright strange; if I can put channel half of its mystery into my fiction then I will have written something important, something which I think needs to be read- I will have been successful!