Mental illness shows itself in many ways, it can be sad, joyous, tiring, energetic, destructive and ultimately confusing. There is one aspect though, that is often not talked about, it is the good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one, it is psychosis.
When I started having psychotic episodes, they were exciting, wonderful and unsettling all at once. You’re probably wondering how this is possible, well it is and each involved emotion plays an important part.
I do not always know I am heading into a psychosis, often someone will see it long before I do. What I am aware of, however, is what is going on inside my brain, a mystical place full of wonder and promise, hopes and dreams, confusion and fear, all put together in a room, let out in pairs and given the ability to experience life in the “real world.”
For me, this is how it begins. Hopes and dreams appear first, being a writer and photographer I am suddenly struck with the most amazing ideas and decide that all of them are going to work, so I begin implementing each one all at the same time. A new book idea is started, Writer’s groups are joined, and a photography site is set up as I wait impatiently for hundreds of adoring fans to praise my work – after all it is fantastic, right?
Wonder and promise are not far behind. I go for walks and am amazed by the images I see, the boats on the water, the birds flying and not falling, surfers and paddle boarders riding the waves. I think of what it must be like to be on a fishing boat, to walk on an island and take those breathtaking pictures that people are waiting to see. The whole world is in front of me, the promise of what is possible and with every part of my being I know I can make it happen. I am restless and wandering is my only desire.
Lurking in the back of that room are confusion and fear, they ease their way out, often unnoticed, and begin the not so nice side of this otherwise joyous experience. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, there is a flash of something out of the corner of my eye. A person, an animal, a car passing by, I can’t really be sure; all I know is it doesn’t feel right. When the two little trouble makers feel the hallucinations are not enough they add sound bites as I hear my name called when no one is around. These two little imps are clever, for fun they throw in uncontrolled thoughts, and I begin to wonder if people are mad at me, why are they not talking to me, did I do something to upset them, am I not good enough? These are often combined with the idea something is about to go terribly wrong. Ah, they are devilish, cunning little things.
See all this goes on at once, a tornado swirling around my brain. There is the part of me that wants it to end, the power of confusion and fear are too much, but the idea of endless opportunities and ability could stick around, but I know it won’t. They will go back into their room and wait for another time to come out, and with them take the brilliant sunshine and promise they brought me. I know it’s not reality, I figured that out a long time ago, but for a period of time I am on top of the world, I was invincible. Sadly, when it all ends I feel I am nothing, my photos will seem dull and lifeless and my brilliant writings are junk.
I know people are scared at the mere idea of this, but to me it’s normal. My mind, in all its chaos is a place I can hide, and sometimes it decides to come out and play; we understand each other – sort of.
No matter how you look at it, my brain has a mind of its own and what it is capable of is nothing short of amazing.