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Mental Illness and Stalking February 25, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hearing Voices, mental illness, Psychotic, Stalking.
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Stalking is a matter of perspective.  From the standpoint of the stalker stalking a celebrity,  the stalker is convinced  that he has a very real, very personal connection to the person he’s stalking. He would be shocked to learn that what he’s doing- trying to fulfill the celebrity’s perceived request for that contact-  is viewed by law enforcement as well as the celebrity in question as stalking. How can it be stalking, he reasons, when the person he’s accused of stalking wants desperately to see him? It must be a misunderstanding.

When I was slipping into the final stages of my delusion (right before I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital) I was absolutely convinced that I had ESP, and that Bill and Melinda Gates were among my many friends-including the Dalai Lama and Oprah Winfrey-  who talked with me via ESP (voices in my head).  I used to make beaded jewelry, so it wasn’t surprising that (as part of my delusion)  Bill and Melinda Gates had heard of my jewelery-making prowess, and begged me to make some jewelry for them.

I agreed to their request, provided they give me direction on their tastes.  One of the capabilities of people who shared ESP with me was their ability to see the world through my eyes. Literally. It’s kind of complicated to explain, but suffice it to say that they saw everything that I saw.  So it was natural for Bill and Melinda to wander around the bead shop with me, picking out beads for their own special necklaces as if they were actually in the room with me.  When Bill began picking out expensive stones, I balked. But  Bill assured me that price was no object, since he (the richest man in the world) would be reimbursing me in the very near future for the money I spent.   Payment from Bill established  for sometime in the near future, “we” roved the store selecting expensive stones for their necklaces.

“We”  returned to my home where I spread the expensive loot  out on my kitchen table and began putting the necklaces together with “their” direction.  When “we” finished the jewelry,  “we” discussed how they were going to get the necklaces from me.  Should I mail them?  Should I send them via UPS?  Should I send them to their house in Medina? Or to Microsoft’s campus in Redmond?  At first,  “they” directed me to mail them to the Gates’ in care of their (real) nonprofit organization, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. After further discussion, “we” agreed that I would give the necklaces to them when I met them in person, which was going to be in the very near future.   Fortunately, I ended up in the mental hospital before I could do any real damage.

It is easy for a delusional person to cross the line into what appears to the real world as “stalking”.  I had lost touch with reality to the point where I was convinced that the Gates’ wanted their jewelry so badly that had “they” insisted, I would have, without question,  driven to their home in Medina (about 20 minutes from my home) with the intent of personally delivering the necklaces to them as they had requested. I would have been absolutely convinced that they were desperate for my jewelry, and wouldn’t have believed anyone  who tried to tell me differently.  Had I followed that plan of action (rather than wait to meet them as we finally agreed), I would have been  carted off to jail, labeled a stalker.  But in my mind, I would have been absolutely certain that the Gates’ were dying to see me, and I would have insisted that this was so.

In revealing this very personal and embarrassing episode that was part of my psychotic delusion, I hope to show how easy it is for someone suffering from delusions to become a stalker. I ask for the law profession to understand that when they are investigating a stalker, in reality they’re likely with a delusional mentally ill person.  I ask for them to show that “stalker” some compassion by getting an immediate psychological evaluation before sending him off to jail. With proper medical intervention, their  delusion, like mine, will evaporate and the psychotic individual will return to the real world.  And when it’s all over and they’re medicated and back in their right mind, they, like I,  will be extremely embarrassed and ashamed of their behavior.

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Comments»

1. Joel - February 26, 2010

I had my own strange delusion — I avoided a perfectly ordinary person because I was afraid that she might think I was stalking her. Imagine jumping up and running from the room, never speaking, never acknowledging. The fear was total and my illness is the only explanation. Such twists it can screw us into!

2. Serial Insomniac - February 26, 2010

I can understand your embarrassment but of course you were not in control of your behaviour and so can’t be blamed. I completely agree that full psychiatric assessments should be carried out on all those on trial for stalking. Even if they weren’t psychotic at the time, I’d say there is a high probability that many of them have some form of mental illness anyway.

Hope you’re keeping OK 🙂

3. moodybpgirl - February 26, 2010

I’ll admit that when I first went into “The System” I honestly didn’t know people could have a psychotic break and come back from the brink with proper treatment. Like most people I just assumed people who “snapped” could never snap back, so to speak. Through hospitalization I met several people in a very short amount of time who debunked that belief for me- sort of a crash course in cultural competency- but in retrospect it’s made me realize just how uninformed the general public really is.

I’ll never forget this woman I saw on a talk show many years ago who had been arrested for breaking in to some celebrity’s (Brad Pitt, I think) house and going to sleep on his bed. The host asked her if there was anything she would like to say to him, and with deadpan seriousness she said, “That I’m ready to come home.” The audience actually busted out laughing. I was a teenager at the time and I didn’t know anything about mental illness but even I could tell she wasn’t just some overzealous fan; when she talked about being his girlfriend it was completely real to her. It stands out so much in my memory because I just couldn’t believe so many people could laugh at this woman when it was so obvious to me she was lost in her own reality. Activism has taught me you can’t leave anything to innate empathy. Unfortunately, finding ways to inform the public and challenge preconceived ideas is no easy feat, which I’m sure I don’t have to tell you.

Crazy Mermaid - February 26, 2010

I hope my embarrassing incident will help people put things in perspective.

4. Annie - July 29, 2010

Despite what is known about mental disorders that cause stalking and the relative ease in which most of these disorders can be treated, our society still wants to put the mentally ill in jail and worse, on death row. We live in a barbaric society. Re: society’s ignorance of these disorders….. the psychiatric community as a whole is responsible for that. They have the education and experience to anhilate public ignorance using the media, but they do little when they are in position to do much. Public ignorance can cause the mentally ill to take their lives because ignorance causes people to treat victims of mental disease with contempt, isolating the victim and deepening the victim’s sense of hopelessness. I appreciated reading your comments, Crazy Mermaid. Society needs to hear from those who have been victimized by mental illness who made it back. Don’t stop talking about your experiences.

5. deborahbarnum - September 5, 2013

I can empathize with your story. I had a manic episode and I was convinced that I was the next messiah. I was going to save the world from mental illness. Ironic eh? I, like you, felt quite embarrassed once I was no longer manic. I had literally talked to everyone I knew via Facebook, Twitter etc. Actually, the embarrassment was probably the worst part of the whole ordeal. I was so ashamed and mortified that I became severely depressed. Luckily, I have a lot of amazing people in my life who didn’t judge me and accepted me. I’m finally starting to accept that what happened wasn’t my fault. I sure wish there was more understanding about what mental health is. It would make life a lot easier.


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