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Delusions December 10, 2009

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness, Psychotic.
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The problem with having delusions and hallucinations is that when you have one, you can’t tell. You don’t realize that you don’t know what’s “real” and what isn’t, because it’s all real when you’re insane.

Because delusions and hallucinations affected each and every one of my senses, my whole sense of reality was messed up. Nothing was sacred or safe. And I couldn’t tell.

Hearing:  That delusion is what started all of the others. I heard voices in my head that weren’t there.  I thought I had the God-given gift of ESP.  Famous people, people I worked with,  and even people who didn’t really exist at all in the real world were at my beck and call 24/7. Although she wasn’t a real person in real life, Claudia, my Diet Guru/Shopping Buddy, was real enough to me. She controlled what I ate and what I wore.

Taste: Because I was overweight, Claudia had me on a diet. One of my favorite foods is Costco Cashews. Big bucket. Lots of calories.  When I first opened the jar and started eating the first handful of cashews, all was well. They tasted marvelous as usual. But as I ate the second handful, the cashews started to taste just a tad bit on the moldy side. The third handful was moldier than the first. As I continued to eat the cashews, they became progressively moldier. Finally, they tasted so moldy that I couldn’t eat another one.

At first I attributed that moldy taste to a bad batch of cashews. Costco’s quality control was on the fritz- at least that’s what I thought at first. But as I thought about the situation more closely, I realized that Costco’s quality control system wasn’t at fault here because the more cashews I ate, the moldier they became. Finally, it dawned on me that it was really my “Duet Guru”, Claudia, at work, controlling the taste of the cashews in order to stop me from eating too much. It was actually Claudia’s control system rather than Costco’s at work.

Smell: Although I couldn’t see any of the people in my head with my own eyes, I could smell them. Or at least one: Claudia.  When she showed up in the “room” inside my head, I smelled her before I heard her. Her perfume was, I was sure, a very expensive brand in keeping with her expensive taste. When she left, her perfume left with her.

Touch:  Touch was, in my view, one of the more interesting delusions. Mermaids, it turns out, can’t wear the color pink. 🙂  Neither sheets, socks, clothes, or even racks of clothing in a clothing store could touch my skin without burning me- as if  I’d touched a hot iron. It didn’t leave a blister, surprisingly, but it was hot enough that it could have. So I had to be very careful not to brush up against anything pink. When a red-headed little girl wearing pink passed me at the mall, it was all I could do to keep from calling CPS on her parents.  Speaking of color…

Color: In addition My color delusions were the most amazing. I had no idea how much color delusions shaped my world until after I was hospitalized and the mania left. Only then did I realize that I even had color delusions. Color delusions, like the others, are hard to spot until after they’re gone.

Shopping with my mom at Target (post-manic), I saw a green snakeskin wallet sitting on a shelf that was identical to one that I had purchased while I was manic. Identical, that is except for the color.  Compared to the vivid, explosive shade of green of my wallet, the wallet on the shelf was a ghostly shadow of mine.  When I finally realized that those two wallets were identical in every other respect, I came to understand that  realized that the two wallets were one and the same. that I saw before I was manic, the real wallet was a much paler, washed out shade of green. With the realization that my vivid, explosive colors of my imagination were all delusion-induced came a sadness that all colors had lost their intensity in my new post-manic world.

Vision:  I saw things- like green skin on fellow swimmers that I identified in my mind as fellow Mermaids. I spent several hours speaking with a man who may or may not have been real. If he was real, then he was as bizarre as I was, taking the time to whip out his wallet and show me pictures of the Alien Baseball team he owned. With the exception of the Alien photos, the cards couldn’t me distinguished from real Major League Baseball cards.

Either I was talking to a man who wasn’t there, or I was talking to a man who was just as mentally ill as I was. If I was talking to a man who wasn’t there, I was exactly like one of those mentally ill people you see sitting in coffee shops talking to themselves. Not good either way.

Having experienced delusions in all of my senses, it’s difficult now to be absolutely sure that what I’m seeing or smelling or tasting or hearing in the here and now is “real”. How can I trust my senses after the Hell I went through?  I can’t be 100 percent sure of anything at all.

Why does the answer matter?  Because if I can discern the real from the imaginary, then I can head off a manic episode. But how do you spot a delusion when you’re in one? Is the food really moldy, or is another psychotic/manic episode on its way? Is that pretty shade of blue real or imagined?  Did that woman passing me on the sidewalk really wear perfume? Am I sinking into another delusion? How do I know?  That’s the scary part: you don’t know when you’ve lost touch with reality. It’s all real when you’re insane.

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