*Trigger Warning* Before continuing, please note, this post contains some emotional content as well as discussions of self-harm and suicide attempt which can be a potential trigger to some
Do you hear voices? Or see things that aren’t there?
I do (or I do too). Delusions & Hallucinations are very much part of my world.
I’ve been wanting to share my experiences of this for a while now, but the fear of what others would think of me, prevented me from doing so.
Now, since learning to be wonderfully honest, I’ve come to the conclusion that: what others think is none of my business, and this is my reality and it’s important for me to talk about it. Therefore, I AM GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT!!!
Psychosis is a severe mental disorder or sometimes a symptom of a severe mental disorder. In my case, my psychosis comes as part of my Borderline Personality Disorder package.
With psychosis, individuals perceive and interpret reality differently to what most people consider “normal”. This can also be known as psychotic episodes, and these episodes may involve two main symptoms:
- Hallucinations; when a person experiences things which are not actually there (by usual definition). For example, with auditory hallucinations, the individual may hear voices which nobody else can. With visual hallucinations, the individual can see things such as people or animals (among other things) which are also not actually there (Again, by usual definition).
- Delusions; when a person has distorted ideas of what is real, some of these beliefs are paranoid in nature. For example, believing that they are being watched by the police with no evidence or reason for this, or that people are out to harm them, or that they can fly.
I have been informed by a psychiatrist, that what I have is known as “Pseudo-Psychosis”. At first, this term pissed me off; my first thought was “pseudo” means fake or not genuine. “So, Mr Psychiatrist, are you trying to say that I’m faking this?” I felt deeply irritated by this, as these experiences are scary and I’d rather never have had a psychotic episode, so the thought of someone accusing me of “faking” this, really really REALLY pissed me off. And rightly so.
But! Apparently, I got it all wrong – some advice to other psychs out there: explain shit to your patients, especially if they already have distorted thinking; you can really do some damage to a vulnerable person, by not explaining shit properly!
Anywhozzle, after weeks of confusion and anger, it was finally explained to me that nobody is suggesting I’m faking this fucked up palarva, but “pseudo” is simply added because I know what is real, however I still cannot control my emotions around it. The difference between my experience (pseudo-psychosis) and full on psychosis, is that most of the time, I know that it’s only my reality and it’s not real for others, so I can attempt to control (some of the time) when and how I react to my hallucinations and delusions.
PSYCHOSIS V PSEUDO-PSYCHOSIS
With psychosis, the individual experiencing it, cannot tell what is or isn’t real. However, I can (hence the addition of “pseudo” to my psychosis); I see, hear and believe things which are actually not there and not real (by usual definition), but most of the time I am aware that I am having these episodes. Although, this doesn’t mean the fear I feel is any different to that of another person with Psychosis, as I still believe that what I see or hear can harm me.
So, I know that these psychotic episodes are not REAL real but I still cannot get myself to stop believing that what I am experiencing is true and/or can really harm me. Whereas, in most psychosis cases, people don’t realise that they are having an episode at all – or so I’m told – but I can tell. I just can’t control how I feel about it (not yet) or what happens, and thus in the past, I have ended up harming myself as a result of these voices and visions.
It’s not always gruesome (like you’ll read in a minute), sometimes I simply deal with these episodes by hiding in my hoodie and hoping for the best. Plus, hoodies equals hiding with no suspicious looks from “normal” peeps, so, Win Win!
THE TRUMAN SHOW PARANOIA
I go through phases, where I believe that I’m living life much like Truman in the movie: “The Truman Show”.
I truly believe that there are hidden cameras everywhere, all around me, and that I am always being watched & monitored by some higher power and my loved ones. I also believe that anyone who knows me is involved in this Big Brother type delusion.
I once snapped at my ex-boyfriend and asked him to tell me the truth about his “plans”, simply because I was sure that he, along with an ex-work colleague, had a master plan against me – all part of “The Scary Elly Show”.
You might already know that I hear voices – I have mentioned it a few times on my Instagram. I consider myself to be quite lucky as some people hear between twenty to hundreds of voices a day, whereas I hear three.
- The loudest and most brutal voice is a man – he hates my guts. This voice is always putting me down and shouting at me to do horrific things to myself. I have ended up in hospital thanks to this voice, simply because he shouted at me angrily and instructed me to cut my arms, wrists and keep going until, well until I could no longer keep going.
- The second voice is a woman – she doesn’t hate me as much as the male voice, but she does everything he wants. So, if he tells her to yell profanity at me and tell me to hurt myself, she will happily do it. Needless to say that she’s not a friendly voice either (She’s a fucking bitch actually). I like to call her and the man, my “mean voices”. I refuse to let them name themselves, as I fear that if this happens then it will be easier for them to take control of me.
- My third voice is a little girl – whilst the other two voices are very loud, clear and confident, this voice is the complete opposite; she is vulnerable, weak and I can hardly hear her. She is also always locked up in a birdcage. It looks like she’s been abused a lot; she cries often and is usually sitting on the floor of her cage, hiding behind her knees.
At first, the voices consisted of the mean female voice and the vulnerable child (fairy like) voice. The (mean) male voice came later, and when he did, he took over and things deteriorated rapidly.
This male voice ended up taking control of me often – he’s such a wanker (I couldn’t help myself; I had to highlight the word “wanker” – it’s my blog; I’ll highlight wanker if I want to!)
I made a drawing about a year ago, to portray the female and the child voices. I’ve never been brave enough to draw the male voice, as anytime I give him too much attention – unless I’m trying to challenge his words – it becomes easier for him to take over me. Whenever he does take over, he does horrific barbaric things, so I do my best to avoid these situations.
THE FIRST TIME THE LITTLE GIRL STOOD UP FOR ME
One particular bad day, I heard the small vulnerable (girl) voice trying to stand up to the mean male voice. This episode started off with the male voice shouting at me to cut my arms – in an angry, yet calm way – I did what he told me to:
“Go on, cut your wrists, cut here and here. Cut the other arm too! CUT DEEPER! You’re so fucking useless; you can’t even kill yourself properly! ARGH. You keep leaving gaps in between the cuts; you need to cut, cut, cut, everywhere! Press harder! You fucking idiot, you’re so useless and such a burden; you can’t even kill yourself properly! What are you good for?! You stupid cow. Shut up, SHUT UP! STOP CRYING!!! I’m so sick of your shit, you fat cunt. Just kill yourself already. You’re worthless and a burden to everyone you come in contact with! You disgusting piece of fat shit”
And so, through screams and tears, I continued cutting my arms with my favourite self-harm tool; a razor blade.
Then, for the first time ever, I heard this tiny, distant, shaky voice:
“No, my love, you don’t want to hurt yourself. Stop this. Please! You don’t actually want to hurt us. Don’t listen to him, he’s not a nice person; he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t know us. You do not want to do this. Don’t do this, don’t kill us this way. Please, stop hurting yourself. Please listen to me, give me strength and let me grow louder. I need your help, you can’t keep ignoring me”
After hearing this vulnerable girl, I managed to call my then boyfriend (Duck) for help. The first person that came to mind was actually my mum; I thought of calling my mothership first, but I didn’t want to upset or worry her, so I phoned Duck, whom I have now worked out was a manipulative, abusive person and part of the reason I ended up self-harming on several occasions.
Duck drove to my house and then later forced me to show my mutilated arms to my mum anyway, he did this just before he asked me to help him decide whether he should go on a ski trip with a friend or not – priorities eh! This was one of the many times I wished I had cancer instead. My thought was:
“It’s not okay for boyfriends to go on ski trips when their girlfriends have cancer, but apparently it’s okay when their girlfriends have a serious mental illness and are a danger to themselves”
I know now that I was wrong; in neither scenario is this behaviour considered okay. My (then) boyfriend is a narcissistic prick, and it took me over a decade to realise this, but it’s okay, I’m out now! And I’ll tell you more about that another time (Sorry!)
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first or last time I self-harmed this way – it was the first time I heard the vulnerable voice stand up for me though, but not the first time I mutilated myself like this – there were many other past and future episodes, and for most of those future times, I did call my mum.
THE SCARY LADY
There’s a woman who lives with me, she’s always lurking! Unfortunately, this is something else only I experience (I’m special! Just not the good kind). Nobody else sees the bitch.
This scary thing turned up out of nowhere, approximately one year ago.
One day, I woke up thinking “hmm, this is strange, I feel okay this morning” – this is unusual for me as I usually wake up feeling like a toilet brush on a bad day – unfortunately though, this feeling didn’t last long.
After my usual morning routine, I then decided to wash the dishes. Mid dish-washing, I heard footsteps approaching me from behind. This was especially freaky as I was home alone.
I looked behind me, to check, and nothing.
I turned around again and continued washing the dishes.
Then the footsteps started getting louder and closer. I turned around to check behind me again.
Once again, there was nothing.
I continued with the dish washing, when suddenly I felt somebody breathing down my neck. It was so real, to me there was somebody there. I started screaming and fell to my kitchen floor crying. Shaking life a leaf (on a windy autumn day), I sat up with my back to the sink, and quickly scanned the rest of the house from the kitchen floor.
And then I saw her. There she was; a scary lady, sat on the sofa, laughing hysterically because she’d scared me.
This is still one of the scariest experiences I have ever had.
From this day, onward, I’ve had to learn to live with this woman: The Scary Lady.
She showed up that day and hasn’t left me since (I guess I’m just irresistible).
There was a phase when she would stand in my room and watch me attempt to fall asleep (ew, creeeepy). This was also the phase when I couldn’t close my eyes due to the fear that she would attack me if I wasn’t always watching her.
There are times when she climbs into bed with me and sleeps next to me (so now I LOVE sleeping alone even more, it’s grreeat!)
She often follows me when I leave the house and is always out to get me. Thus, I’m always on guard, watching, waiting (and shaking. Y’know, like that autumn leaf).
She still scares me, not like that first time she appeared, but she does still petrify me. I’m slowly getting used to her being around, but I am always on edge. Thanks to this, I’ve had to make some changes to my routine, such as:
- I’m never alone in the dark, because she will get too close to me when I don’t have a clear view
- Going out alone is a rare occurrence nowadays
- I’m always checking around me to see where she is
- I always shit my pants (not really) when I pull my shower curtains back after my shower
- There is now a mirror on the kitchen sink, so that I can always see behind me when in dish-washing mode
- And I have fairy lights in my room, which I can leave on at night – this helps me check if she’s there and keep an eye on her if so.
I call her “Scary Lady” because, well, she’s scary and she’s a lady. She’s also tall, pale, and has short, curly, red hair. For the first few months that she was around (and now from time to time), she always had this creepy grin on her face, which reminds me (very much) of Twisty the (not so friendly) clown from American Horror Stories – I was kind enough to add a photo of the fucker here, for your reference (Sorry! I just want you to get a better idea of what this is like).
IT GETS WORSE
The paranoia, the voices, and the Scary Lady always become louder, clearer and more real, as the intensity of my emotions and stress goes up.
When my emotions, anxiety and stress are peaking, then they are all (paranoia, voices, scary lady etc) at it, extremely loud, even more real and ever so cruel. The voices tell me to do barbaric things to myself, and shout disturbing words at me – with the exception of the little girl, whilst the Scary Lady stands there laughing and taking part in the mockery. It’s mindfuck at its best, I tell ya!
It’s all been quite traumatic and life changing, but they’ve all been around for so long now that I’m not sure how I’d feel if they disappeared. I know, I know – crazy, right?! But they have become part of my life, I can’t remember what it was like to not have these delusions & hallucinations.
Ideally, I will find a way to live with them and challenge them, rather than put up with their abuse. However, I’m not sure I would be okay with them disappearing completely; I’m scared that I cannot cope with being alone now.
Yes, it is truly fucked up my friends.
“WHEN YOU ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME”
I’ve had many people say to me “you need to take your medication”, when I say that I’m seeing or hearing that which are not REALLY there, but here’s the thing: medication doesn’t actually get rid of these things; not always. From my experience, at its best, the medication helps me to have some (very little but its something!) control over these disturbances, but I still experience them.
I take anti-depressants (Fluoxetine) as well as anti-psychotics (Quetiapine – extended release or XR), and I am also in full, long term, therapy, but these things cannot be quickly fixed. It takes time, and usually, they don’t go anywhere, you just learn to cope and become better at living with them, and as a result, they become less invasive.
So. When you see someone talking to themselves on the train or a poor paranoid soul walking around looking scared or shouting things, don’t judge them – don’t point, don’t laugh, don’t put them down. Understand that they have a whole world in their minds that you can’t see; a truly disturbing & terrifying world that you know nothing of. And we are simply doing our best to cope with it.
On many occasions, people have also told me “It can’t hurt you, it’s not real” OR “It’s okay, it’s not really there”, but here is the problem with that peeps, it may not be real to you but it is real to me, and when you say that it isn’t real; it actually invalidates my reality. This is perfectly explained by Dr David Eagleman (The Brain):
“Each one of our brains is different, and so is the reality it produces. What is reality? It’s whatever your brain tells you it is.”
So, open your minds, folks. There’s a million (and one) worlds out there that you know nothing of…
And if you do, then I’m always here ready to share my experiences xoxo
*Psychosis explanation by NHS Choices < http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Psychosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx >