I ran across an article today titled On Mental Illness: The Folly of Trying to Be “Psychic” on The Berkley Daily Planet that really resonated with my personal issues and so I wanted to take a moment to explore this phenomenon a bit further and how it relates to those of us who are mentally ill.
What I would call my life of mental illness began at an early age. Even from birth I knew that the world was not all sunshine and lollipops as it was made clear to me that I did not and would not have a father. In fact, the man who had lent a hand in creating me ( as the story goes) came in to see me when I was born and walked right back out with his new girlfriend. While I realize that this was dreadful and had to be quite a blow to my mother, the realization from my very beginning that something had ended with me and that I was perhaps made of something “bad” since my father was “bad has lent quite a bit to my mental issues. In high school another incident would happen that would prove to me that life, at least, was not fair… and at times was downright cruel. In February of my sophomore year I had 2 friends killed in a dreadful car accident. While they were both nearly like brothers to me… extremely close to say the least, one had been a boyfriend for quite some time and I suppose one of the ones that you never really do think of as anything but “boyfriend”. In whatever way a girl of that age could, I certainly loved him. ( Mind you this was in the early 90’s far before the 16 and pregnant days and all of that… things just weren’t like that back then, at least not in my world) Now, I could go on for days but I will go into detail on a few other of my personal tragedies later and spare you the rest. I think that one can infer from just the beginning of my downslope into depression that I’ve had a lot of weight on my shoulders for quite a while.
I’ll be one of the first to admit it….. I am very drawn to the idea of psychics, the supernatural, the paranormal, alternate religion. I find it all quite fascinating and while I never could quite come to the conclusion that any of it was “real”, I also never really discredited it as being not real. I am always the type to keep an open mind. However, I think that this practice of keeping an open mind is what started me on the path to living in delusion. I began by picking up on little things that after the fact I would realize I knew about an incident. When I lost a baby through a molar pregnancy between my 2 children I looked back and remembered that while reading a pregnancy book I had thought how terribly sad molar pregnancy would be. Naturally, in the midst of my delusion ( and most likely assisted by the fact that I had just lost a child) I believed that I knew this was going to happen… that I had somehow predicted this. With each of the 10 surgeries that I have had I believed I could look back and see that I knew they were coming ( with many of them of course I knew it was for an ongoing problem, however that did not dawn on me for quite some time)
The instances began to pile up where I could look back and in hindsight see that I had known all along that something would happen, and so I began to wonder each time I thought of something “Is this going to happen?”. “Am I being psychic?” I had others comment on my ability to tell the future and encourage these thoughts, not knowing the path I was going down. In the end I got myself into a life of fear as both my anxiety and my belief that I somehow knew what was happening began a painfully cyclic effect. My anxiety would bring about a thought and then I would dwell on it thinking of how terrible it would be and all of the terrible consequences, and then my fortune teller side would think “my god I’ve been thinking about this a lot… it must be real it’s going to happen.” This has been, and to some degree still is, the life I have known for years… at least a good 10 years. I can say in all honestly that not only living thinking that the sky is falling but also knowing how and when and why it is falling because you are “psychic” is such a taxing way to live. I can certainly attest to the author of the original article’s claim that this is “dangerous” for those of us who are living with mental illness. I think that for one reason or another, we more than those who are thinking “properly” can get so caught up in this type of thought and get taken places that actually worsen our state.
So where does it end? How do you break the cycle and stop the madness? I wish I knew… but I’m working on getting there slowly but surely. One thing that has helped me to no end is coming to terms with the fact that shit happens, at random, and there is no stopping it or planning for it. We can’t keep it from happening in any way, nor should we feel guilty when it does happen… it wasn’t our fault. Sure, there are going to be times when we really did screw up and it really is our fault but even then the best you can ever do it make up for it as best you can and move on.