Archive for April, 2013

Reality Checklist

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , , , on April 27, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

This checklist is personal. It is not intended as advice, not even for me. It is my best shot at what might be a realistic conception of my own psychopathology, whatever its nature might be in clinical terms. At the moment I don´t even want to know anymore. I need to re-define myself on my own.

This checklist is something to come back to when I have another attack of madness in the broadest sense. It could be angry inner dialogues, it could be theories about the origin of my illness. I will look at this list, feel invalidated by it and thrust it aside. But once the acute phase is over, I can go back to the list and re-orient myself. I hope that this way I won´t have to figure all this out time and time again. Like I said before, my (inner) life is subject to constant disruption. Maybe you could say that this list is a lifeline from the sanest perspective I´m capable of. It might help me integrate my latest experiences of madness. I hope to be able to understand where I went wrong, where I strayed from realistic and identity-building thinking.

A short, very simplified theory of madness which might prove helpful to me:

  • It lies in the nature of madness that the symptoms (feelings, attitudes, perceptions…) make no sense. Looking into the past for an explanation that gives a seemingly understandable meaning to them is to deny their nature as expressions of madness. If I get terrified in my own room and conclude that something terrible must have happened there I am denying that my fear is irrational and that I am mad. Fear is not a proof of past or present danger.
  • Madness proceeds in several stages: You start with having symptoms like panic or other emotions which seem out of place in the situation you´re in. This is something that simply happens to you. How you deal with it determines if the madness can proceed to other parts of your psyche or if it is stopped, that is, you stay sane, though ill. If you look for explanations for these symptoms which give meaning to them instead of acknowledging their insane nature, you let madness take over your cognitive capacities as well. Not only do you have false responses to situations, you also start to cognitively distort reality. Hearing voices is a hallucination, a disturbance of the senses. Attributing them to CIA mind control is the beginning of a delusion, a disturbance of cognition.
  • There are two different ways of looking at your history: You can acknowledge that you are mad and look at how being mad has influenced your life and your self-image. And you can look at your symptoms and try to deduce from them what must have happened to you in order for a (as you believe) sane person to develop such symptoms. The first way can be helpful, the second way leads to delusions.
  • Sanity is to be free from delusions, not free of symptoms.
  • By believing that your symptoms are meaningful, you make it harder for you to gain inner distance and freedom from them. If your fears and other problems are rational and make perfect sense, then it would be mad to break free from them and stop being frightened. Thus, delusions prolong and intensify your suffering.

How to obtain a narrative which gives me a sense of identity:

  • You can only gain a workable identity from a narrative that focuses on agency. While, of course, sometimes things happen to you, focusing on these things won´t tell you who the person is to whom they happened. If I view myself as a passive object floating in a cruel sea, I´m victimising myself.
  • The answer is not to simply claim responsibility for everything, and especially not for the actions of other people.
  • When evaluating past situations you feel guilty about or ashamed of, ask the following questions: 1) What situation did I believe to be in? 2) What did I want to achieve or avoid? 3) Which observable actions did I commit? 4) What situation was I really in, seen from a distance? This also includes my level of knowledge at the time. 5) What could I at best have expected to achieve?
  • A perspective of agency does not imply that you brought everything upon yourself. It is a biography focused on your thoughts, actions, motivations and evaluation of situations. It doesn´t really matter if much, little or nothing bad happened to you – you´ll probably always need to develop a perspective of agency in order to move on.
  • Look at what was important to you in past situations, not at what turned out to be important after the fact or at what other people deemed important. In order to judge your behavior you need to know your own perspective.
  • Just because you develop a perspective of agency doesn´t mean that all of a sudden nothing happened to you anymore. Things still happened to you, you are just looking at something different for a change.
  • Identity is fluid and needs to be constructed and reconstructed steadily, especially after (social) defeats, attacks on your self-esteem and current identity, being at fault. If you fail at this, you will fall into an abyss of demoralization. Overcoming this abyss is the implicit aim of everything I do.

With regards to inner tension, angry dialogues, shame:

  • No one is saying anything to me at the moment. It is not real.
  • The people who write things that make me feel any of the above are not talking about me. They don´t even know I exist.
  • Whatever the solution to my problems is, it is never that I should feel this way. A real solution will not feel like this.
  • Imagining humiliating scenarios is simply something I instinctively do in order to try and relieve the tension. It might not be the only way, and even if I needed such things to happen to me in order to relieve the tension, it wouldn´t mean that I deserve them.
  • Just because the voices in my head aren´t real doesn´t mean I was never bullied or verbally attacked. While they certainly use every interpersonal defeat or even conflict against me, though, they are an entitity of their own and they consist of more than things that were actually said to me. The dialogues in my head are no flashbacks of dialogues that have taken place in real life. They are fantasy. They have never happened and they are not really happening right now.
  • I feel angry at people I argue with internally even though those people (real people) have never said the things they say in my head. It´s because of this that I don´t feel sure if they have really given me a reason to be mad at them or if I´m just a vengeful person who cannot cope with herself. This, by the way, sounds like a black-and-white distinction.
  • Just because the dialogues aren´t real doesn´t mean it would be alright to talk to me this way. It´s normal that they make me feel the way they do. It´s just not really happening. Therefore, even by winning discussions with them, I don´t stop any kind of real life evil from happening.

Me and Others:

  • It is okay, even expected of me, not to expose my innermost secrets to everyone.
  • Lying and keeping my feelings to myself are two different things. I can give my honest opinion without having to give away how personal the issue in question is for me.
  • People who meet you for the first time don´t know that you believe you can make yourself invisible. It surprises them when you don´t greet them, look away and fail to display a normal amount of self-confidence.
  • People who meet you for the first time don´t know how you think about yourself. You can actually shape how they think about you.
  • Trying to influence peoples´ view of you is not per se an act of people – pleasing or self-denial. You can use it as an act of self-protection. It is very reasonable to keep your vulnerabilities away from people who have views which might hurt you.
  • It is legitimate to protect yourself. You don´t need to use relationships to other people as a punishment.
  • Nobody can read your mind. Most people probably aren´t even noticing you.
  • You don´t have to agree with others. You don´t have to discuss everything. You have a right to private thoughts and opinions and no one can first demand to hear them and then be upset.
  • Other people aren´t all out to psychologically demolish you. You have experience with this. You´ll recognize it when it happens. Relax.
  • It is okay to postpone discussions and responses because you want time to think.
  • When in doubt, keep your emotions under wrap, politely tell people you need time to think, remove yourself from the situation, sleep over it, rethink it, respond.
  • Other people are not the Holy Inquisition. They have just as many issues as you, and those who act like the Holy Inquisition probably have most.
  • When criticism is mingled with aggression, cruelty, scorn, the way you´ll feel about yourself receiving it does not reflect who you really are, even if the criticism itself is justified.

To be, I am sure, continued.

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Agency and Identity

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , on April 26, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I think the unsatisfactory thing about many of my narratives (that is: how I tell my story) is that they tend to make me a passive being. Like this, though, they cannot give me a sense of identity. I still don´t know who that person is to whom all of this happened. The way to get a sense of who I am, then, might be to create an active narrative, a narrative in which I am an agent.

Some people – I´ll boldly say misunderstand – this approach. They seem to think it is enough to claim you are responsible for everything that happened. You are not what you did and intended at the time you acted, you are what resulted from your actions. Implicitly or explicitly those people assume everything that happened is something you secretly (consciously or unconsciously) wanted to happen.

I think that is nonsensical. It defies common sense. This kind of thinking is incredibly wide-spread at the moment, but I think it´s a fairly recent trend that will go away again. If I want to believe this, I also have to believe courts judging people on the grounds that they did or didn´t have certain intentions are acting unfairly. With the approach above you don´t have to ask for intentions. The agent has always intended to achieve exactly what happened anyway.

What I want is a narrative that allows me to feel like I´m the end product of my life story and that I can move on to working on my aims now. I want a narrative that enables me to act, and I think the only such narrative can be one that focuses on my own doings. What else can give me a realistic idea of my behavior patterns and my previous and current limits? The key here is, of course, realistic. Blindly taking responsibility for the outcome of everything I was ever part of is useless because it leaves just as much of a void as seeing myself as completely passive.  It is just as impersonal. Absolute victim and absolute perpetrator are both images which disable me from feeling a sense of identity.

I find again and again that it doesn´t really matter what I did in my life, what matters is how I look at it. The moment I can look at it through the lens of agency I feel safe from the judgment of others. I am my own judge then, and I can decide on my own how to deal with myself. I get a sense of self-respect just from that, independently of the actions I´m judging. Consequently, my current shame and lack of self-respect do not so much result from my real life actions, but from the way in which I´ve seen myself and my life. Most of the time, after all, I have adamantly refused any sense of agency. Everything just happened to me.

This, right now, is a mere assessment of reality. If I want self-respect, a sense of identity and to stop fearing the judgment of others I need to take a realistic and ego-syntonic perspective of agency. This is not yet a perspective of agency itself. It is at best a mission statement.

Actually, nothing changes so much. I still need to look at my life, and in order to get a realistic assessment of my own agency I also have to look at the actions of others or how I perceived them. This “sense of agency” revelation is more like an explanation as to why combing through my memories again and again and writing down the same complaints again and again doesn´t set me free. It becomes clear to me what I need, and it becomes clear to me where the source of my shame lies.

Maybe, just maybe, this sense of agency also describes the difference between sanity and madness.

What are The Voices?

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , on April 25, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

What are The Voices?

I don´t know. Right now, all I can feel about them is a presence. An inner (or invisible, god-like outer) observer who sometimes approves of, sometimes condemns me. Right now there is approval, inner peace, a warm little glow. I feel it where, on other days, I feel the tension.

With The Voices, I never feel alone – for better and for worse. Their approval gives me a sense of security, like: My cause is righteous, so nothing can happen to me! I feel like The Voices can protect me, they can shield me from danger, they can carry me away if they must. Well, those are visions I have when I get scared of something. At other times, it feels like I´m blessed with such protective powers myself, like I´m projecting those shields, or like I can influence things (traffic lights switching, goals being scored) myself. Like I can use such powers for my own benefit. That only works, though, if I am deserving of such privileges. I must be a particularly good person in order to earn it, and I must not have any petty feelings.

In those situations its mostly me who does the talking. I address the voices, I get confirmation or reprimand, and I accept both mostly unflinchingly, only sometimes I try to negotiate. I guess it´s a bit like constant prayer. In those moments The Voices feel like some outer entities who are above all mankind and judge from afar, and I´m very lucky for having such a close connection towards them. It separates me from other people, since they are unaware The Voices even exist. I sometimes feel like I represent all of mankind to them, like I have to speak for everyone.

***

So, here´s the thing: The Voices have been with me for at least 15 years. And while I didn´t always believe in the explanations I found for their existence, I always believed in them. Those states of mind – being the chosen one versus being everything I hate – have always been there. I think to some extent it were The Voices themselves who socialized me, who were responsible for how I saw myself. Maybe they filled a void which my parents had left, I don´t know. Maybe, also, I never even listened to anyone else because I had the voices. Those two interpretations are good representations of the two different states of mind.

The terrifying thing is that I feel like without them I´m nothing. I feel like I have no character strength of my own, it all comes from The Voices and the discipline they subject me to. It all comes from the feeling of being chosen of sorts. Without that, why would I hold myself to any standards at all? When I´m not under that spell, then what do I think and how do I behave?

Funny. I was starting to think on my own after the break in this post, instead of harmonizing with The Voices, and suddenly I´m back to condemnation. Damn, I don´t want to make this any more real by saying “they punish me, they don´t want me to be independent”. “They” do and want nothing, if anything I am delusional.

But why “if anything”? Because I have a nasty feeling that my interaction with these voices is a little too active in order to pose as a victim here. A part of me cooperates with them, in some kind of twilight zone between “in my head” and “for real”. I grew up in that twilight zone. I feel like I was raised more by The Voices than by real people. I feel like I´ve passed the point of no return. I cannot become sane and return to reality. I cannot live without those voices, as it would mean that the last 25 years of my life have been worthless and nonsensical.

I wonder to what extent The Voices are an explanation themselves. I sometimes have moments in which it feels like I´m thinking up their responses myself. It is still very important to me, though, that most of the time I´m not doing this myself, that they are real.

I think The Voices are a strong reason why I do not really live my life. They keep me out of this world, make it seem unnecessary to strive for anything, they make me feel like I´m completely different from everybody else. It´s not anything anyone did. I can accuse my parents of many things, but The Voices are not their fault. They are my very own craziness, and they are the greatest part of my inner history, of my identity even, since I always failed at finding an identity in outer roles.

Sometimes I think that most of my life has been madness and I want to resign. Then I turn it around and say that madness has been a great part of my life – and suddenly I have a story. An identity, possibly.

 

Paranoid visions

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal with tags , , , , on April 22, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Fear and confusion are increasing. I feel unable to describe what´s going on inside of me, and I´m not sure I want anything to do with it. I feel like I´m living in paranoid visions.

A vision of me seeking psychiatric help. A vision of everything I believed to know turning out to be false, of me having to learn that I´m thoroughly paranoid, that everyone I perceived as cruel only ever wanted to help me. The idea that my suspiciousness might be part of crazy.

It what I wrote in the last paragraph is really true, then I don´t want to live anymore. There seems to be no point in it. If all my feelings are completely dumb and paranoid and unrealistic, then I don´t see why I should stay alive. What for? To have a family, have a job, contribute something? If all my feelings and perceptions are nonsensical, then what exactly do I have to contribute? Intelligence? So others set the target, and I work on it? We have computers for that. If I fail in all that makes a person human, I don´t see what I´m supposed to be doing here anymore, goodbye. I´m not going to start some stupid cheesy “journey towards healing”, take pills throughout the last years in which I might pass as young, make myself dependent on so-called well-meaning people who tell me what is real and what isn´t and then work in some job that requires no qualification because that´s a mentally ill´s place in this world. It would be so bloody easy, wouldn´t it, if being insane automatically meant you have no wishes and ambitions anyway, right?

It would be so easy if only I could consistently stay sane and cover up what´s going on. Sanity IS covering up what´s going on on the inside. If you are me, then revealing it would be self-destructive, and self-destruction isn´t sane.

***

Not quite. What´s going on with me is that apparently I´m extremely angry, and that must have been building up for a while. I don´t know why I´m so angry. Maybe those visions make me so angry because their content makes me feel threatened. When I say visions, I mean: It´s like having a nightmare while I´m awake. I don´t believe I´m in some kind of hospital when in fact I´m sitting in my room, but in my head I can hear everything I assume the doctors would say. Most of the time I´m not thinking these thoughts on purpose, only sometimes, when I´m in the middle of such an internal argument, I mentally say what I believe they would say. Most of the time, those thoughts just come to me. They are intrusive and they cause me a lot of inner tension and aggression. I feel like lashing out against anyone who talks to me.

Good. So these visions…they make me angry. That´s most definitely crazy, thank fuck we have that settled. But they´re just visions. I don´t have to do this to myself. I don´t have to go out there and make people punish me like this. Because that, too, is something that goes with these visions: A nasty little belief that I have to make this happen to me. That I need it. That adds to the stress.

Now that I have this figured out, the vision changes. I go see a psychiatrist, I actually manage to tell her about these visions/voices, she thinks that just because I don´t believe they are coming from other people or because I can gain some minimal mental distance from them, they must be some kind of neurosis that can be resolved by looking at my inner conflicts. In other words: She might think there is some truth or some meaningful feeling behind these visions. She might think that I gain something from this, the primary gain that allegedly lies in neurosis, or that I´m just trying to evade something.

That vision makes me feel terrible because it 1) makes me feel like I´m being left alone in this inner chaos and 2) fuels the first kind of vision, the vision where everything is my own fault after all and I “just don´t want to see it”.

Actually, dealing with these visions as psychotic instead of traumatic in nature does not make such a terrible difference right now. It even helps me gain distance and tell myself this isn´t real. If my visions are madness, then what those voices say is madness. That´s quite comforting. It means, like I said, I don´t have to seek out this kind of treatment, this kind of mental breakdown that reduces me to a groveling hysteric sobbing what a moral swine she is.

I´ve heard in that long-ago lecture by Dr. Psych that delusions and delusional belief systems often rely on existing, fairly wide-spread belief systems. A textbook examply is religious mania, but there are also other examples: Alien abductions, current conspiracy theories, the Truman show… Mania attaches itself to whatever it finds. It´s no surprise that with me it was repressed memories and sexual abuse, since I had encountered two such cases some time before. Also, it´s no surprise that my visions deal with psychotherapy since many of its theories cannot be falsified, just like conspiracy theories. The ideas of Freud or Reich are questionable, and I´m by far not the only person to question them. I´m not completely off with the things I say about them. The problem is that I say them coming from a place of deep paranoia. I have voices in my head which interpret my thoughts, feelings and behaviors in a particularly cruel, pseudo-therapeutical fashion (though these voices are informed by what I read and experienced), and I have yet another voice in my head that tells me all this is what should happen to me.

What I feel when I write things like these is deep demotivation. So I´m merely crazy after all. And without some kind of mania my life is incredibly empty. I wrote that two days ago, how empty my life must have been for me to have a vision about the future, slip on another identity and forsake everything. It would be sane to go through with my plans. It would be sane to get a job that binds most of my intellectual capacities so I don´t have too much time to ruminate. It would be sane to get a job that forces me to work scientifically, that gains me recognition and a fair amount of money. It would not just look sane, it would keep me sane. I was my most sane when I was at school. It was always during the summer holidays that the breakdowns came. I need some outside structure that forces me to stay out of the twilight zone for eight hours at least. And yet recognizing how crazy I am deprives me of all motivation. Get a job just so I´m NOT myself? If I´m so bad, then why bother exist?

***

Again, madness is not myself, madness is not who I am. I´m defending something I´m not. The feelings I have because of my visions are part of who I am, but it is normal to respond with rage to the content of my visions. The visions themselves are something crazy, but my reaction is quite healthy and where ever I encounter such behaviors IRL I´d be a good person for responding with anger. Also, the fact that these visions aren´t real doesn´t mean anything that happened to me with Dr. Stoneface and Athena wasn´t real.

It´s useless. I cannot comfort myself like this, I don´t believe in it. It matters a damn whole lot just how crazy I am. If I´m completely nuts, if my perception was always distorted by such visions and voices and expectations, then maybe anything they ever did was brought onto me by myself.

***

Rage. Rage again, because I feel threatened and helpless again. I know no way out of this. All that might happen is that other visions, daydreams come to my aid, that a voice says: “Don´t worry, we´ll kill you!” That would be so damn nice of you, you have no idea. But that, too, is just a result of this inner tension. It is another outpouring of rage. Saying this doesn´t change anything, though.

Distraction, feeling like I can see through things, that´s the only thing that helps. Maybe my feeling in analogies is just the only way I can express my visions? I don´t know, I´m getting so tired.

I wonder if I should ask others what they think of my state. I feel like I need to keep it together in front of everyone IRL, because they cannot afford looking at me as a crazy person who needs help, for one reason or the other. They don´t want to lose me to a world of pills, institutions and big psychiatric terms. It should move me, but right now it only burdens me. And I cannot even be sure if that´s a realistic prediction based on experience and empathy, or if it´s just my paranoia speaking.

***

Embitterment, another tangible feeling, thank fuck. I´m tired of believing I´m crazy, I´m tired of visions of my own mental and intellectual deconstruction, I´m tired of ruminating, I´m tired of feeling attacked, I´m tired of BEING attacked in my visions, I´m tired of having no one to blame, I´m tired of having no one whose head I can bash in for this, I´m tired of being conscious of myself, I´m tired of myself, I´m tired of almost everything and remarkably enough some small little things can still make me want to live for another few days, weeks, maybe months. Overall, though, I wouldn´t mind to take a hammer and demolish all that I am.

 

 

 

 

 

Sinister anticipation

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , on April 20, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I´m not doing well. It must be some kind of craziness again. Somehow it feels like everything will be ending soon. The belief that everything will be over soon and that nothing matters anymore – yes. I´ve had that quite often. It went with my vision of the future. A date popped up in my head then and I “knew” when I would die. It was intimidating, it made me feel sorry for my mother who, of course, didn´t know about it, but I was ready to die and trying to prepare myself for it. And yet there was a touch of unreality to it, like I was just a child taking too seriously her play. With that came a sense of guilt whenever I thought about my mother, like I had essentially decided to die. I have no better explanation. Again, I don´t know what I did and what simply happened to me.

Well, I´m pretty sure that the thought coming into my head was not my own doing. How I responded to it, though, might reveal something about me. To begin with, I wasn´t surprised. Such things never really surprise me. I´ve been living with these mental phenomena for ages. I´m used to my life being disrupted. Still, I was not my usual self in relation to this vision. I was in some kind of mental twilight zone. The vision was revealed to me by the entities I called “the voices” (I had always done so, but never in an allusion to schizophrenia, I didn´t believe I was mad, I thought they were real). I was used to interacting with these voices. I talked to them in my head on a daily basis. I pretty much trusted them, though it got exhausting when they contradicted each other. So when they revealed to me I was going to be executed one day, I accepted that, too.

I was passive, accepting, submissive. They were my version of a strict but good authority. What they told me was the law. I was willing to stick to it. It gave me some purpose, some kind of orientation. I think everything around me, everything else in my life just was very empty. I cannot explain otherwise how I could spend so much time in my head. It was the summer holidays, I was alone all day, I barely managed to get dressed. I was apathetic even at age 14. Just as apathetic as I am now, if not worse.

Why couldn´t anyone see what was wrong with me? Why did I have to become suicidal before anyone even bothered? Why didn´t anyone see just to what extent I was locked away somewhere within my own head while there still might have been time to get me back out there? Actually, I think I was already having casual thoughts of suicide when I was 14. Images, like how I would slit my wrists. Those thoughts were part of the twilight zone, so they could seem far away and absurd at times. Still, they were there.

More deadlines followed when I became openly suicidal. Sometimes I simply had dates in mind, or I felt like I was forced to act now, like otherwise I was apparently just a drama queen. It always seemed unreal, the idea of actually going through with it. One night I had decided to do so, but as the time came closer I wondered more and more how I was ever going to pull this through. In the end I told my mother. I just wonder why I needed some outsider to save me. I didn´t want to do it, after all. It was just that I felt I had to, I was supposed to, like otherwise I´d prove my depression was just a self-serving illusion to cover up for…I don´t know. It would have been proof that I wasn´t really miserable. This is so nonsensical I don´t even know where to start, but it will be interesting to investigate. One day. I´m getting dizzy with the depth of my craziness. It is like an undercurrent that drags me to the strangest mental places while I´m so busy staring up at the stars that I don´t even realize I´m floating in the sea.

Now here I sit again feeling like  everything will come to some dramatic finale soon. I´m nervous, heart pounding heavily, slight belly cramps, feeling generally shaky. I´ve been looking for explanations for this feeling, “maybe there will be a car accident when we go for a ride on Tuesday”, “maybe this is a warning that I might fall and break my neck”. Already I´m wondering if I don´t have the duty to stop those things from happening by avoiding anything that could lead to it. Or the duty to warn the people I´m going on a ride with. I know I won´t act on it, but this really sucks.

I don´t know what it takes for this state of mind to go away. Maybe lots of sleep. It´s interesting, but still…

 

On Delusions and Accountability

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , on April 16, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I wrote before that I´m starting to believe my abuse obsession was a form of psychosis. It´s not the whole story, but it´s starting to look more and more likely to me. At least it feels somewhat consistent with my experience of it. It is another time of my life for which to take responsibility I can try endlessly, and yet there is never a moment when I can just say: “Yes, I did something very wrong here, but it´s long ago, I did what I could to repair the damage and I feel at peace with it now. I won´t suddenly fly into a fit of self-hatred if I encounter the subject somewhere.”

There is one thing, however, I can take responsibility for. There were times in those months of madness when I woke up and experienced a moment of normalcy. Moments when I recognized madness as madness. Naturally, those moments caused me great distress. Who likes to wake up to the realization that he´s been spewing absurd accusations over the last few weeks? In those moments of sanity, I felt massive shame. I felt like my life was over. Also, like I was trapped in some dead-end. If my ideas about the past were wrong, then what was I still supposed to believe, what was I supposed to think about myself? I had no idea that what I experienced there might have been genuine insanity. There would have been nowhere to turn to, no explanation other than that I was a terrible person, and that, too, did not correspond to what I had learned about myself and reality. Here is where madness could pick up again. Because if I couldn´t really be such a terrible person, then my mad beliefs had to be true. For all I knew, there was no third option.

When I briefly dropped back into sanity, I started to feel a sense of urgency, like something was slipping through my fingers. I wanted to be able to hear the voices of my “alters” again, or become them. Live in a different frame of mind, perceive myself and the world differently again. Of course I realized in those moments I was essentially hoping I had been abused. At least that´s how I viewed it then. Under normal circumstances I wouldn´t have hoped so, but I guess most people would experience extreme denial if I they were suddenly faced with the possibility that they had been believing and passionately defending completely unrealistic accusations over weeks and months. You could arguably say this terror and denial is a normal reaction to the disease, in which case it wouldn´t have much to do with my specific personality.

At any rate, at the time I was terrified at the notion that I desperately hoped my delusions were true. It raised the stakes, escalated the false dichotomy. Either I was so rotten that I might as well have been a rapist myself, or there had to be some explanation as to why a person who wondered if she had repressed memories of abuse could want it to be true. And in those relatively sane moments I was actively searching for such explanations, driven by the terror of what kind of person I seemed to be. I was encouraging and fostering my madness.

When I say I can take responsibility for that, I´m not talking about finding grounds for condemnation. All I´m saying is that those were things I did intentionally, and with a purpose of my own. Evaluating or judging my motives is only the next step. First and foremost, I´m trying to figure out what parts of my behavior were sanity/madness and what I can actually hold myself accountable for. And my definition of sanity here is not: healthy, well-thought out, good, functional, well-adjusted, balanced. It merely describes instances in which I felt I was acting on my own accord, intentionally, in response to what I thought was my situation. It doesn´t mean that I wasn´t driven, under massive inner pressure and misguided by believing there were only two alternatives.

 

When I later reflected on this time I always knew there had been moments when I had actively cooperated with my madness. I remembered wanting to prove I had been abused, I remembered wanting it to be true. What I was falsely convinced of for many years, though, is that these wishes were not merely a reaction to my manic belief that I had been abused, but the cause of it.

What I believed was that having abandoned Lola despite her history of having been abused threatened my self-image as a martyr and victim of everything, and so I had to make up a story that was even worse than hers. Actually, I always knew I hadn´t intentionally lied, but needing to believe in a delusion for narcissistic reasons made me just as guilty in my book. In fact, it additionally made me a ridiculous person. Even though it seems more reprehensible to lie on purpose than to go mad, I´d probably feel a whole lot better if the former had been the case.

What I think now is that by the time I developed the manic belief I was already caught up in a similar false dilemma. I couldn´t deny that my delusional fantasy world had been more important to me than Lola, but at the same time I couldn´t see myself in what this seemed to say about me. My illness had started with the “vision” I´d had two years earlier, had probably announced itself far earlier in the form of the voices, which had been with me for ages, and little, anxiety-inducing misgivings.

I just wondered if this is some kind of personality disorder after all, since I must have had it for such a long time, and since it seems to be interacting with my sane mind so tightly. And yet it seems unfair to ascribe sudden, manic ideas and the fantasies that develop in my head to my personality. They do not reflect who I am. I will not be held accountable for the content of my delusions. Where I don´t try to shake them or even let myself slip into them, you can call me passive or lazy and I will consider how I myself judge my behavior, but being sucked into the manic belief that I will have to save mankind from a future dictator does not make me a person who is greedy for fame, attention and a grandiose self-image. If you absolutely want to, go ahead and judge how I dealt with my madness. I´m actually interested in re-evaluating my sense of who I am that way. My deliberate actions and conscious attitudes are what makes me who I am. My delusional thoughts and manic ideas are something that happens to me.

 

Blog for Mental Health 2013 Project

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , on April 11, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Writingthebody has asked me to join the Blog for Mental Health 2013 Project. First and foremost, I´d like to thank him – I´m touched and honoured that he thought of me. Nonetheless, I´m not sure I actually want to make a pledge. To begin with, I´m not entirely sure what I´m committing myself to. I interpreted the text so that there are two main goals: 1) Writing about mental health issues not just for myself, but also for others. 2) Trying to educate the public on mental health in order to erase stigma.

As far as the first goal is concerned, I assume that as long as I have readers I´m giving them something even if these are merely my own personal ramblings. I think my blog might actually lose some of its value – if not for others, then for me – if I tried to make it less personal and more objective and science oriented. It is a – sometimes fairly dreary – playground where I test my theories about myself and mental health related issues. It is called Possible Truths because I don´t have any definite truths to tell yet. For precisely that reason I´m not sure if I´m in any position to educate the public on anything.

Then the stigma thing – my problem here is that there are two kinds of stigma. There´s the stigma surrounding certain mental illnesses, like the idea that people with schizophrenia are dangerous. I´m all for removing that kind of stigma, although I´m not sure in what way I can do that. If writing publicly about the absurdity in my head contributes to that, I´ll gladly continue to do so. I have to admit, though, I sometimes shudder at the sloppy use I make of psychiatric terminology on my blog. I sort of need to do so because my fears  and my self-loathing speak in those terms, but I guess that doesn´t really help erasing stigma, so my blog might simply not be the best place for advocating acceptance. The stigmatizing use of psychiatric terms is so deeply ingrained into my head that I´d be a bit of a hypocrite, in fact, if I presented myself as accepting.

Side note: I think the non-clinical use of psychiatric terms is not necessarily directed against mental health patients, but against just about everyone we disapprove of. Girls who cheat on their boyfriends are suspected of having Histrionic PD by said boyfriends, emotional and aggressive girls are said to have Borderline, all managers are sociopaths, all nerds have Asperger´s, and absolutely everyone is a narcissist. Diagnosing your opponent is a very popular slight. And afterwards you can even accuse HIM of being the one who stigmatizes the mentally ill. Because if he interprets your diagnosis as an insult, it only shows he has a problem with mental health patients. Clever and destructive, both to your opponent and to actual mental health patients.

This is pretty close already to what I call the second kind of stigma: Pathologizing behaviors. I do some things many people see as a sign of mental illness. My sexuality is probably the aspect of me most vulnerable to pathologizing. I think if my blog was dedicating to fighting any kind of stigma, it would be dedicated to fighting the stigma of being called ill while feeling healthy.

Anyway, though, my blog is already dedicated to something else entirely, namely to being a place of experimental honesty. Being honest means to say what you believe to be true. My beliefs are so conflicting and elusive that I can only TRY to do justice to them. I naturally do take sides. I need to believe certain things if I want to be able of doing anything other than sit on my bed and hate myself. Sometimes I feel capable of looking into the abyss of doubts over which those frail, necessary beliefs float, sometimes I´m busy fighting back the stare of the abyss. The first state of mind I´d now call relative sanity. The second one – some years ago I believed it was the path towards healing. Maybe it´s telling that I distinguish healing and sanity. The latter has a positive connotation for me, the former doesn´t.

I´m not sure if I can combine this experimental honesty and the resulting inconsistency with an agenda of any kind, however worthwhile. Long story cut short, this blog is simply not the right place for me to promote anything. Nonetheless, thank you again for approaching me with this, it has given me a lot of food for thought!