The Insanity Begins
With my first episode in 2007, I thought that I was Jesus, and in fact, the second coming of Christ. I have since had times where I felt like I was Eve and ate the forbidden fruit and was responsible for the fall of man and the banishment from the Garden of Eden. One of my more recent beliefs was that I was the reincarnation of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and that I had just experienced feeling like Jesus because I was channeling him and confused his experiences with my own.
I have learned several important lessons over the years of having these “crazy” thoughts that help me tremendously when these thoughts arise. First, keep these thoughts to myself in the general course of my day to day, although sharing with my psychiatrist and a trusted therapist has been helpful. I used to feel compelled to share what was going on inside my head with those around me, even my loved ones, and I finally realized this was not helping me as they just did not understand, even if they wanted to and were really trying to be supportive. I think of it much like when you have a negative thought about another person, you don’t go tell them about your thoughts. You go on your merry way and just keep it to yourself as it is just unnecessary to share, and sharing could be more harmful than helpful.
Secondly, through my spiritual development, I have come to believe that universe will put me on the right path and let me know in perfectly appropriate divine right timing if there is something I need to know or some action I need to take. I believe we are all trying to find our way back home to our Source, and that the powers that be are leading us every step of the way. This is a very different feeling that when I first started this mental illness journey, which I will share more about shortly.
The third, and maybe the most important lesson I have learned is to trust in LOVE over FEAR – ALWAYS…every single time! If I find myself feeling afraid, I know what is happening to me is not of the divine, and I need to remove myself from that thinking. I can go take a walk, talk with friends and family about things unrelated to my intrusive thoughts. I focus on love, joy, fun, and laughter. I believe these are the path to God.
In 2007, in my first psychotic episode, my experience was deeply traumatic. On the one hand, I felt elated that I was going to “save the world” and rid it of all the problems – no more war, no more poverty, no more sadness, no more disease. I believed it would be a return to a world of peace, love, and harmony – a new heaven on earth.
On the other hand, I felt I had to do certain things, just the right way, to understand the messages I was receiving correctly, and to take the appropriate actions. I was responsible for getting it right, or the consequences would be dire. I felt like if I did it wrong, people would suffer and die, and more specifically, I knew that my son would die. I had this thought that I needed to “keep watch” over him, and as a result, I did not sleep for 3 nights. My fears for my son were overwhelming. Imagine the terror if you felt the responsibility of providing either a return to heaven on earth or the suffering death of your child, and indeed, of the entire world, rested on your actions. Of course, I was overwhelmed!
After 3 days of this, the following morning, things got out of control. My husband, Steve, happened to be holding my son, who was then in 2nd grade, and I instructed Steve that he needed to run with our son, or he would die. Steve finally said, “Enough. He needs to go to school now.” Steve had no idea what was going on. My terror took over. I grabbed Steve by the arms and said, “If you don’t do this, I will hurt you.”
Looking back and reflecting on how out of control I was, the most painful part is that I could actually be so out of touch with reality that I would threaten someone I loved so dearly. Now, while I’m stable, it seems impossible that could be me, but that just shows how powerful and scary the thoughts can be.
I explained to my friend Cheryl once that it is like I’m standing on a train track with what appears to be a train barreling towards me. I see it coming quickly with my very own eyes, and I hear it rumbling down the track. My dearest loved ones are nearby telling me it is okay, that there is really no train coming, and that it is very important that I continue to stand on the train track for my own well-being. So, I am truly terrified to my core. All my senses tell me I will die (or in this case, my son will die and the world will suffer) if I stay put, but those who know and love me are telling me that I absolutely need to stand where I am. I don’t know whether to trust myself or them. One of us is clearly wrong, and the consequences of choosing incorrectly felt dire.
I am incredibly grateful that this is the only time where my thoughts led me to actions that I felt were harmful. I am grateful that the medication has helped me to control these intrusive thoughts. I think about if this had happened to me years back, before these medications were available, I would likely be living in a mental institution and not able to live a normal life. I have been on a variety of medications, and it took a while to find the one that did not make me feel like I was in a fog. The downside of this medication is that it can cause excessive weight gain, and has in fact, caused me to gain 70 pounds. It also is so good at keeping you grounded in the present reality, it can make it difficult to explore the spiritual side of life. While I am grateful to the medication and my psychiatric care, I feel if I had the spiritual teachers who are in my life now helping me to process the feelings combined with this psychiatric care, perhaps I could have used the medications for a shorter duration, ultimately, better understood the root cause of my thoughts and bring them to some sort of closure or resolution.