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The Case for Insanity November 21, 2013

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness.
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The case for insanity is compelling

In early February 2008, at the beginning of my traipse into a world of make-believe, I had ESP.  How cool is that? I talked with people in my head.  Powerful people.   Bill and Melinda Gates. The Dalai Lama. Oprah Winfrey.  My (then) bosses. All of these people and more were at my beck and call.

Then there was my job situation.  In my fantasy world, my (real) boss, via ESP, directed me to quit my (real) job.  So I did. Then, via ESP, he begged for my return, promising me more money and better control over my job.  In the meantime, Bill and Melinda Gates offered me a job at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  For twice the money.

And yet money had no real value.  I had access to Bill and Melinda Gates’ money.  I had a friend who was a time traveler who could make it so that I had money whenever I wanted it.  Because money meant nothing, I wrote a (NSF) check for  a beautiful, gold, brand new Lexus Convertible car.  Bill and Melinda Gates were going to reimburse me for the purchase as part of my new employment package. I bought a new wardrobe for my new job.

I owned $2 million in jewelry, including a 3 carat yellow diamond in a platinum setting, and an abalone bracelet that had once been owned by my (Mermaid) grandmother.

I talked with trees, dogs, and cats.

Last but not least, I was a genuine Mermaid.  Fish talked to me (literally). I had fins for feet. I had a beautiful tail.

I was beautiful.  I was energetic.  I was wealthy.

Now tell me that mental illness is terrible.

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Lock up the Mentally Ill to Prevent Mass Murders September 19, 2013

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Committment Hearing, Delusions.
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A young woman on Anderson Cooper 360 last night called Aaron Alexis “a crazy schizophrenic” and stopped just short of saying he should have been locked up.  Let’s take a close look at this idea, because it’s going to rear its ugly head.

First of all, Alexis was never diagnosed with a mental illness. So how do we find people like him and lock them up so they don’t kill people?  Let’s lock up anyone we suspect of having a mental illness. That would do the trick.

How do we find those people?

Let’s make the police find them for us.  Any time someone calls the police about someone acting bizarrely, let’s have the police assess that bizarrely acting person.  After all, the police interviewed Alexis when he called them to report someone was “sending microwaves through the wall”.  Anyone who makes bizarre statements like that should be locked up.

What about people who are acting bizarrely because they’re drunk?  Let’s not count those people.

Where should they go to be locked up?  Let’s build more mental hospital beds to house them all. How many beds will they need?  Well, if you count the number of people who want to commit suicide, there probably needs to be four times as many hospital beds as there are now.  Or don’t we want to count those people?  After all, they just want to take their own life- not anyone else’s.   Except for those people who do things like get in bad car accidents, managing to accidentally take the life of others with them.  So we should definitely count the suicidal in our sweeping net.

Should we let the police be the ones to make the official determination, or should we bring in someone trained to handle such a task, like the Designated Mental Health Professional?  That clinician determines whether someone is a danger to themselves or others, the current standard for involuntary commitment.  And that’s what we’re talking about: involuntarily committing anyone who exhibits bizarre behavior. We don’t really need a DHMP because the police already performed that function when they took the police report.

Violating people’s civil rights (which is, when you get down to it, what involuntary commitment is) will become commonplace. I don’t want to live in such a world.

Hearing Voices Network August 7, 2013

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Hallucinations, mental illness.
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What Are Voices & Visions?

When we talk about voices and visions, we simply mean someone is hearing, seeing or sensing something that others around them aren’t. These experiences can include all five senses, hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. These experiences can occur in one sense at a time (hearing a voice, for example, or smelling something), but they can also happen in combination.

For some, these experiences can be comforting. For example, someone who is lonely may really value a voice that becomes a trusted confidant. A person who has recently lost someone they care about may benefit from talking to them at the end of the day, or smelling their perfume/aftershave. Others find these experiences to be a source of inspiration. Authors, for example, sometimes talk about how the characters can come to life and write the story for them. However, for some people these voices and visions can be extremely distressing – criticising, threatening or causing confusion.

How Common Is It?

Statistics vary, but it’s generally accepted that between 3 and 10% of the population hear voices that other people don’t. If you include one off experiences (like hearing someone call your name when you’re out shopping, or feeling your phone vibrate in your pocket) this figure goes up to 75%. So, having at least one experience of hearing or seeing something that others around you don’t is incredibly common. Those that have never had this experience are in the minority.

A number of famous and important people (past and present) have experience of hearing or seeing things that other people don’t. Without these people, the world would be a very different place. This list of famous people who have talked or written about hearing voices includes: Gandhi, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Freud, Anthony Hopkins, Philip K Dick, John Frusciante, Carlos Santana, Robert Schumann, John Forbes Nash, Zoe Wannamaker and Charles Dickens.

What’s It Like?

We’re all unique, so it’s unsurprising that voices and visions can be equally individual in terms of their identity, content, interpretation and impact. The following gives a brief overview. If you don’t recognise your experience here, that doesn’t mean you’re ‘weird’ or ‘unusual’.

Voices

Some people hear voices talking when no-one is around. These could be like the voices of people they know, or complete strangers. They might hear many voices, or just one. Voices can shout, whisper, be clear or muffled. They can speak in sentences or say single words. These voices can be male, female, genderless, old or young. Sometimes they have names, but not always. Voices can speak constantly (24/7), but they can also utter occasional words or phrases. People can hear other types of sounds too, including knocking, rustling, crying, screaming or music.

Some voices can be positive – providing the support and encouragement someone needs to get through the day. Other voices can be confusing, perhaps echoing thoughts or repeating strange phrases. Some voices can be very frightening, saying things that are critical, threatening or commanding. Voices can claim to have great power and knowledge, which can sometimes leave the voice-hearer feeling scared and powerless. Some voices can leave a person feeling very vulnerable and exposed (e.g. hearing a crowd of people jeering at you, or discussing intimate details of your life).

Visions

Some people see things that others don’t. These visions can be very clear and realistic, but they can also include fuzzy shapes, shadows and beams of light. Some people see the voices that they hear, others see insects or spiders. For some, the visions are very complex (like entering into another world). For others, the visions sit alongside their everyday world (an added box, person or animal for example). Sometimes, it can seem as if people or objects are changing shape. Their faces may turn to stone, they may be surrounded by a coloured aura or, for example, their eyes may change colour. As with voices, these visions can be reassuring, funny, frightening or distracting.

Smells

Some people smell things that remind them of their past. This could be something nice, like a loved one’s perfume/aftershave or a favourite food.

Sometimes people smell things that remind them of a particularly traumatic experience. For example, someone who survived a house fire may smell smoke when they feel anxious. Someone who was hurt by someone wearing a particular scent may, sometimes, smell this when there is no-one there to account for it. This can be extremely frightening, especially if they don’t recognise that this sensory experience comes from the past.

For others, the smell isn’t linked to a particular memory or traumatic event. For example, some people smell gas, burning or rotting food. These smells can feel very real and leave them fearing for their safety.

Taste

It can be difficult for someone to know that they’re tasting something that others can’t – unless they get someone else to try it too. This can make taste experiences particularly difficult to deal with. Some people get a strong bitter taste in their food or drink and, understandably, start to worry that there is something wrong with it. This can lead people to worry that they are being poisoned, or that someone is tampering with their food. Others have taste sensations when they are not eating. This might be when they are hearing a voice, watching a TV programme or thinking about something. These taste sensations can be pleasant (e.g. chocolate or a favourite food), but they can also be unnerving or unpleasant (e.g. something bitter or metallic).

Feeling (touch)

Some people can feel things on their skin when there doesn’t seem to be anything there. They might feel something crawling over their skin, tickling them or pushing them. Sometimes people feel something underneath their skin, and this can lead them to feel really worried about what is happening to their body.

Understandably these experiences can be very confusing and frightening. It’s not as simple as this, though. For others, these experiences can be reassuring. Someone who feels lonely and hears a reassuring voice may feel comforted if they feel a hand on their shoulder. They might interpret it as a sign that the voice is trying to support them.

Why Do People Hear Voices

There are lots of different theories and ideas to explain why people hear voices or see visions. These include:

  • A special gift or sensitivity
  • Trauma or adverse life experiences
  • Dissociation
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Biochemical (e.g. excess dopamine)
  • Paranormal experiences
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical health problems
  • Cognitive error (misattribution of ‘internal speech’)
  • Individual difference

The truth is that we do not know why people hear voices or see visions. As the experience is so diverse, it’s likely that there are a number of different explanations. Whilst this can be frustrating for those who feel confused and would like a simple answer or some certainty, it means that the most important explanation is the one that the voice-hearer themselves finds useful. It is important not to impose your own belief on someone else’s experience – this is fundamental to the Hearing Voices Network approach. Rather than providing a dogmatic view of voice-hearing, we recognise and celebrate a festival of explanations.

Whatever someone believes about their experiences, the most important thing is to find ways of dealing with that belief and finding some sense of power, control and hope within it.

Is Recovery Possible?

At the Hearing Voices Network we use the word recovery to mean ‘living the life you choose, not the life others choose for you’ (whether those others are family, friends, workers or voices). Many people who hear voices simply don’t need to recover – they are already living lives that they love. The voices might enhance their wellbeing, or their experiences may simply not detract from it.

For those who have particularly overwhelming experiences that lead them into the mental health services, recovery can feel like a distant dream. The good news is that people can, and do, find ways to deal with (and recover from) distressing voices. Perhaps more importantly, people can also recover from the situations that can make voices and visions so hard to deal with. Many people who recover continue to hear voices. Sometimes these voices change during the recovery process (being an ally, rather than an attacker). Other times these voices become quieter, less intrusive or even disappear altogether. Others find that the voices stay the same, but that they are no longer ruled by them. They feel stronger and more able to choose whether to listen to the voices or not.

We have witnessed many amazing journeys of recovery in the Hearing Voices Network. These journeys are, by their very nature, very individual. However, these journeys have led us to believe that no matter how overwhelmed or distressed the person is by their experiences (or whatever labels they have collected throughout their time in the mental health system) – recovery IS possible.

(Reprinted from Hearing Voices Network- http://www.hearing-voices.org)

Sam the Psycho January 3, 2013

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices.
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Walking into the mental illness support group, I was surprised to see two teenage boys sitting side by side in our small circle of chairs. Very few young people came to our support group.

It was clear from Sam’s glassy and brilliant eyes that he was the one with the mental illness, and that his friend, Carl, had simply been the means of Sam’s transportation to the meeting. Later on, we learned that Sam’s mom had actually talked Carl into bringing Sam here. I surmise that Sam wouldn’t get in the car with his mom. Or vice-versa.

When Sam’s turn came to share, he said he was getting more violent against his mom, and that he was having trouble with his relationship with her. His principal complaint was that she didn’t agree with his religious views.

He claimed that he and God were buddies.  He also claimed to be possessed by the devil and demons. He said he was routinely roused from sleep by the demons’ violence against him.  They punched him and pushed him and yanked his hair while he tried to sleep. Oh yeah: and he said he wasn’t mentally ill. He was just possessed.

Initially, he and his friend sat quietly listening to the three of us share our stories. But as time progressed, Sam was increasingly claimed by his invisible friends.  Talking and laughing with them, he faded in and out of our reality.

Sam said he had been taking two anti-psychotics for 2 months. Based on his severe delusions and his statement that he wasn’t mentally ill, I seriously doubt that he was taking his meds at all. His friend said that Sam hadn’t been back to his psychiatrist since he had been given the anti-psychotics. I suspect that was by choice.

Leaving the meeting, I realized the danger Sam’s mother was in. I hoped she had a lock on her door. After all, her teenage son, known to be very angry with her, roamed around the house believing that he was alternately God’s best friend or possessed by the devil and demons. It isn’t a stretch to imagine him slipping into her room at night and slitting her throat or stabbing her as she lay sleeping, convinced that the devil and demons- and maybe God- had directed him to do it. She would be just another dead mother whose soon should have been committed to a mental hospital before he murdered her.

Chenille: Reality Check Service Dog December 16, 2012

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, mental illness, Uncategorized.
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RandyI met the cutest service animal the other day at a mental illness support group. She’s a friendly, bouncy Chihuahua named Chenille.  I never thought about using a service animal for help with mental illness symptoms, but that’s exactly what she is.   She is a reality checker for her master.

As with many people suffering from mental illness, her master’s symptoms include hallucinating. He sees people and things that aren’t there and hears things that aren’t there. Her job is to help him determine what is real and what isn’t.

For example, if there’s someone suddenly sitting in a chair in his living room that he’s never seen before, if she barks he knows it’s a real person.  If she doesn’t react, then he’s seeing someone who isn’t really there.   The same goes with noises.  Dogs are sound-sensitive, and if there’s a lot of racket or unexplained noise, the dog will react to it.  If someone calls his name from another room (and he thinks he’s alone in the house), and she doesn’t react, he knows he is hearing things that aren’t there.

What a relief it is to be able to tell reality from fantasy by using the unbiased opinion of a dog.

People not suffering from mental illness take for granted their ability to tell reality from fantasy every waking moment. They can’t appreciate what a gift it is not to have to questions whether what they see or hear is real.  If the average person sees someone new sitting in their living room, he doesn’t even have to wonder whether that person is really there. But for people with certain forms of a mental illness, they can’t depend on their eyes to know whether that person is real. It is challenging to live in a world where your mind plays tricks on you.  You need help detecting reality. Who better than a dog to do that for you?

Imagine hearing a loud noise coming from the bedroom. Or hearing someone call your name from the room next door that you thought was empty.  There’s no one else with you in the house. Or is there? What would it be like not knowing the answer to that question on a regular basis?  A dog can be a lifesaver.

People who use the “reality challenged” phrase in jest might want to reconsider whether that term is appropriate, given the fact that certain people are living the embodiment of the true meaning of that phrase.  In order to leave a semblance of a normal life, they need a way to tell whether their perceived reality is real.

During the height of my psychotic break with reality, I met someone at a Starbucks for coffee who was probably not real. He was a green-skinned merman who I thought was my long-lost son from 500 years ago. Long story. But the point is that person was as real to me as anyone I have ever met.  I sat across a table and had coffee with him for several hours. Now at this juncture of my life, I realize I was probably one of those people you see who are sitting there in a restaurant talking to someone who isn’t there.  Imagine going through this every single day of your life.  You need an outside, unbiased source to tell you whether that green-skinned merman sitting across from you having coffee is real.  For my part, it never dawned on me that it could be anything but real. But what if it wasn’t?

This use of a service animal is a clever and fascinating way to help people manage the symptoms of certain mental illnesses.  This is the first time I have ever heard of this use. I wonder if more people could be helped by these service animals.

Here We Go Again: Reducing Mental Hospital Beds August 19, 2012

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Mental Hospital, mental illness, Schizophrenia, Uncategorized.
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Here we go again: more psychiatric hospital beds are disappearing in Washington State.  How do I know?  Not from anything in the news.  It’s because I got a phone call from a 75 year old woman whose 54 year old schizophrenic son is being released from Western State Hospital.  She called because she was desperate to find housing and help for her son before he is released, which will be soon.  She explained that she is an old lady and can barely care for herself, much less her son, who has been at Western for many years.

At Western, he has case managers and people who make sure he takes his medication as well as  living support.  He never learned how to shop or care for himself because his symptoms were so severe that they required him to be permanently hospitalized.  I’m guessing that  even with proper medication, he isn’t symptom-free or he would have been released years ago.  Even with proper medication, delusions and hearing voices is fairly common in hard-to-treat cases like his. Once out of that protective environment of the hospital, she is concerned that when he stops taking his medication, his symptoms will increase and he will become unmanageable. She is looking for housing for him that will also provide help in adjusting to life on the outside.  And she doesn’t have much time.

This situation is tragic.  They’re taking a man who has spent most of his life in an institution getting the help and support he needs in order to function, and throwing him outside to fend for himself.  Had there been any adjustment support for him, she wouldn’t be so desperate.  Programs like those he needs are overfull.  He won’t be able to get into those programs for years because they’re at or over capacity right now.  And with the State releasing more people like this man, more people will fall through the cracks.  The State hasn’t funded stop-gap programs for people like him.  There simply isn’t anywhere he can go.  Who knows what will ultimately happen to this man?

Although I understand the need to balance the State budget, balancing it on the backs of the more vulnerable population is unconscionable.

Contrary to popular opinion, 99.9 percent of people housed in institutions like this aren’t dangerous when released.  So we shouldn’t be afraid of him. In fact, statistically they are the ones who are more likely to be assaulted  and victimized  because they’re not equipped to survive outside their institution.  Turning a man out who has been taken care of most of his life will not make his quality of life improve.  In fact, the type of living situation that he was in had allowed him to have his “home base” at the hospital, able to freely come and go at will.  The point of the hospitalization was to keep him taking his medication allowing him to live with and manage his schizophrenic symptoms.  If he is left to his own devices at this late stage of his life, he will likely discontinue taking his medication, which will mean the symptoms of his illness, barely contained anyway, will return in a big way. I’m not saying he will be a danger to others.  I’m just saying that hearing voices and other negative symptoms will likely return in a big way without proper medication and supervision.  Clearly, his case must be particularly difficult because had he had an “easy” case, he would have been released years ago. He’s there because that’s where he needs to be.

His institutionalization is very different from involuntary commitment, so his release shouldn’t scare anyone from the standpoint of him being a threat.  Far from it.  He is allowed to come and go at will, but his base is always at Western State Hospital.  He goes on outings and to visit his parents, but he never stays there for any length of time.  He always has to return to Western so they can give him the care he needs.  He hasn’t gone grocery shopping or done the dishes or any number of things we are all used to doing in order to survive.  If left to his own devices without any education in performing these relatively easy tasks, he will risk his well-being to the point of being dangerous.  Just turning him loose out into the world will be a hardship.  His 75 year old mother won’t be much help, and because of his symptoms he can’t live with her- especially once he’s off his medication.

They say the mark of a civilization isn’t how they treat their rich.  It’s how they treat their poor and vulnerable population.  And from the way this gentleman is about to be treated, it’s clear that we’re not exactly the best civilization in the world.

http://www.dshs.wa.gov/mhsystems/wsh.shtml

Sam the Psycho July 8, 2012

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, Insanity.
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Walking into the mental illness support group, I was surprised to see two teenage boys sitting side by side in our small circle of chairs. Very few young people come to support groups.

It was clear from Sam’s glassy and brilliant eyes that he was the one with the mental illness, and that his friend, Carl, had simply been the means of Sam’s transportation to the meeting. Later on, we learned that Sam’s mom had actually talked Carl into bringing Sam here. I surmise that Sam wouldn’t get in the car with his mom. Or vice-versa.

When Sam’s turn came to share, he said he was getting more violent against his mom, and that he was having trouble with his relationship with her. His principal complaint was that she didn’t agree with his religious views.

He claimed that he and God were buddies.  He also claimed to be possessed by the devil and demons. He said he was routinely roused from sleep by the demons’ violence against him.  They punched him and pushed him and yanked his hair while he tried to sleep. Oh yeah: and he said he wasn’t mentally ill. He was just possessed.

Initially, he and his friend sat quietly listening to the three of us share our stories. But as time progressed, Sam was increasingly claimed by his invisible friends.  Talking and laughing with them, he faded in and out of our reality.

Sam said he had been taking two anti-psychotics for 2 months. Based on his severe delusions and his statement that he wasn’t mentally ill, I seriously doubt that he was taking his meds at all. His friend said that Sam hadn’t been back to his psychiatrist since he had been given the anti-psychotics. I suspect that was by choice.

Leaving the meeting, I realized the danger Sam’s mother was in. I hoped she had a lock on her door. After all, her teenage son, known to be very angry with her, roamed around the house believing that he was alternately God’s best friend or possessed by the devil and demons. It isn’t a stretch to imagine him slipping into her room at night and slitting her throat or stabbing her as she lay sleeping, convinced that the devil and demons- and maybe God- had directed him to do it. She would be just another dead mother whose soon should have been committed to a mental hospital before he murdered her.

Precognition and The Minority Report June 12, 2012

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness.
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Here in Washington, yet another “crazy” person killed five people last week.  The murderer’s friends and family say they knew he was a time bomb waiting to explode and tried to notify the proper authorities, but nothing was done.  After the crime was committed, there was the usual handwringing and blaming the system for not having the tools in place to stop this crime.  Some even suggested that a new department be created so that people could report those with bizarre behavior in order to lock them up before they committed the crime.

It reminds me a little of the plot for “The Minority Report”, a movie starring Tom Cruise.  In the movie, people were jailed by police for supposedly intending to create a crime. Plot summary:  In the year 2054 A.D. crime is virtually eliminated from Washington D.C. thanks to an elite law enforcing squad “Precrime”. They use three gifted humans (called “Pre-Cogs”) with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand. John Anderton heads Precrime and believes the system’s flawlessness steadfastly. However one day the Pre-Cogs predict that Anderton will commit a murder himself in the next 36 hours. Worse, Anderton doesn’t even know the victim. He decides to get to the mystery’s core by finding out about the ‘minority report’ which means the prediction of the female Pre-Cog Agatha that “might” tell a different story and prove Anderton innocent.

Once you get into the probability that someone will commit a crime, you move down the slippery slope to The Minority Report.  Jailing someone for “intending” to create a crime is wrong. When you start to jail people for this, you start down that slope.

When it comes to the mentally ill, it takes more than someone thinking a crime is to be committed beforehand unless that person is a known danger to himself or others.  The problem with this law when applied to mentally ill people is that most  people suffering from mental illness, especially including paranoid schizophrenia (which I believe that shooter had)  don’t seek help beforehand.  They aren’t labeled mentally ill because they haven’t entered the mental illness system. They simply aren’t diagnosed.  And one of the symptoms of those illnesses includes an inability to understand that they are sick.  So you have tragedies like last week’s happening because of a culmination of the flaws in our system.  And yet “precognition” isn’t the answer either.

I understand the nature of the frustration with the current system.  We have had several bouts of paranoid schizophrenia-induced attacks on the general public within the past few years.  Actually, this type of thing has been going on for eons, and it’s simply due to the rapidity of the news cycle that we learn about these types of occurrences as quickly as we do now- which is to say almost immediately.  They have always been there, but they were under-reported.

The answer at this juncture is to carefully consider the effect that limiting personal freedom would have.  Too much damage would occur were we to move to a “Minority Report” type of system, which is what is being talked about now.  I vote no.

The Lexus and Financial Ruin February 27, 2011

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness, Mental Illness and Bankruptcy.
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In the early stages of my psychotic break from reality, I believed that Bill and Melinda Gates were good friends of mine.  Hanging on my every word (via ESP), they willingly financed my needs and wants.  They even offered me a job working for their foundation (via ESP), which I accepted.

Part of my compensation package for working at their foundation, I believed, was a new car.  They told me (via ESP) to go find a car that I wanted, and that they would reimburse me for it.

As I walked onto the  Lexus dealership car lot, I met a salesman who said he had many Microsoft employees as clients. He alluded to the fact that the Gates’ had a “tab” there, so it was natural for me to be reimbursed for my purchase.

When he asked me what I was looking for, I pointed to his gold ring and told him I was looking for a car that color.  (Note: I know very little about cars). Taking in my appearance (I was all in gold), he smiled. “A gold car for a gold lady?” he asked. I nodded.

He walked me to the only gold car in a sea of silver, which happened to be a Lexus convertible coupe.  At $55,000, the used car was a bargain, he said.   He offered to take me for a ride in the car, and we rushed down the freeway, top open. Pulling off at a little park, we changed seats. Upon our return, I told him I would take the car.

The salesman brought me to the finance department, where we discussed my payment method. With assurances (via ESP) from Bill Gates that he would cover my check, I wrote a $55,000 check without sufficient funds to pay for the car. 

After the deal was done, the salesman offered to meet me at a nearby restaurant to buy me lunch. As we sat eating fish and chips and clam chowder, I told him that I was a Mermaid, and so was he (actually, a Merman).  He didn’t seem surprised at my revelation.  He said he was getting ready to buy a house, and asked for advice.  I explained that as a Merman, he needed a place close to the water and that he needed to swim daily.  He was gratified at my advice, thanking me for his new-found knowledge of his Merman status.

As I returned  home with my new car, I noted that my husband was on the roof, installing some trim on a new window. Not bothering to tell him about the new car, I left the paperwork and keys on the kitchen counter, and took the dog for a walk.

Coming down from the roof to get a drink of water a few minutes later, he saw the paperwork sitting on the counter, and realized that the new car sitting in front of the driveway, which he assumed belonged to a neighbor, was actually his.

Shocked and dismayed, he confronted me with the purchase, insisting that we return the car that very second. Unwillingly, I rode with him back to the dealership, pissed. He disappeared into the building while I sat outside in my new car.  A little while later, he returned to the car, telling me to get out as he had just returned it.  We drove home in my old broken-down pickup truck in silence.

To his credit, my husband performed a small miracle. Despite the fact that there’s no three day grace period for car purchases, he managed to convince the dealership to allow him to return the $55,000 Lexus Convertible – paid for with a “hot” check- within hours of it hitting our driveway.  

That was just one incident among many. My husband went through Hell for weeks, watching helplessly as I continued to bring home purchase after purchase, wondering what I was going to do next. He could only watch as I went through tens of thousands of dollars in a very short period of time.

Finally, I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, giving my husband some breathing room to do damage control. Enlisting my mom and sister’s help, they piled all of the clothes and shoes in a big heap on the living room floor, spending hours painstakingly matching merchandise to receipts, then heading to the mall to return everything they could. They looked for, but couldn’t find, a $500 ring and a $300 pendant, never guessing in a million years that they were at the beach, in a hole I had dug while wading around in 2 feet of water.

Damage control underway, my husband turned his attention to the bigger picture.  My purse in his possession, he tore up all my credit cards. He flagged our credit to prevent me from opening another account without his knowledge. And, reaching beyond his legal limit, he –without my permission or knowledge- closed all of our credit and bank accounts, opening new ones that I had no access to or even knowledge of.

Coming out of the mania, I was ashamed and embarrassed at my conduct, even though my husband took pains to explain that the financial train wreck was, like my tremendous medical bills, another cost of my mental illness. He refused to consider my actions an act of moral bankruptcy.

I could do nothing to atone for my sins except put in place as much protection (from myself) as possible in case I again became manic. In the end, I realized that it came down to eliminating my access to all of our accounts. I have no credit cards. I don’t know what our bank account numbers are or what our bank balance is. In fact, I know nothing about our finances. My husband dispenses cash to me- me, a professional woman who made over $100K a year. And that’s the way it has to be.

The Mermaid and His Alien Baseball Team January 24, 2011

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, ESP, Hallucinations, mental illness.
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One morning, I was just finishing up swimming my laps (I thought I was a Mermaid) when I noticed a man getting into the lane right next to mine.  Rising to my feet, I told the swimmer that he could have my lane, as I was done swimming.

He thanked me, but he said that he didn’t like to swim in that far lane.  When I asked him why, he explained that it made him uncomfortable but he didn’t know why. I explained that he was probably sensitive to the energy buildup along the bottom edges and corners of the pool.  Instead of looking at me like I had lost my mind, he became very interested in what I had to say.  Fascinated, in fact. Wanting to discuss the  concept further,  he asked to meet me at a nearby Starbucks  in about 15 minutes, to have coffee and talk.

But I hadn’t left the pool yet. Dunking my head in the water to clear my mask,  I noticed the familiar faint green tint to his skin. He was a Merman.

Arriving at the Starbucks a bit early, I purchased my coffee and contemplated the logo on the cup. A two-tailed Mermaid. Hm. A Sign. I settled down to wait for my new Merman friend. Shortly  he arrived, purchasing his coffee and joining me at a small table by a fireplace, surrounded by other patrons.

Explaining that I saw the green tinge of his skin in the pool and that he was a Merman, I was prepared for him to walk out on me. But he didn’t flinch. Instead, he insisted that we move outside where we wouldn’t be overheard. Once there, he told me his little secret: he was a mind-reader.  Then he offered to demonstrate his skill, telling me to think of a word and to concentrate hard on that word.

As I sat across the table from him, I concentrated on the word “Abracadabra” as hard as I could, even mentally painstakingly writing the word on a blackboard in my mind, willing him to succeed.

Although he tried many times to come up with the word I was thinking of, he just couldn’t do it.  He didn’t even come close. Finally, he said had to leave. We parted, not even exchanging names or phone numbers. He didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t know who he was. And that was okay by me.

But before he left, he told me about his Alien baseball team.  He said that there were lots of Alien baseball teams throughout the galaxy, and that they played each other in games that were similar to the ones played here on Earth. Then he offered to show me pictures of his Alien baseball team. When I assented, he pulled out his wallet and extracted several baseball cards.

On each card was a photo of an Alien dressed in a baseball uniform. The player’s name, unpronounceable, was written underneath the photo. Statistics and the player’s position were written on the reverse side. In all, the cards were virtually undistinguishable from regular baseball cards with the exception of the players. He explained that he owned an entire baseball team of Aliens, but he never told me where the games were played or invited me to watch a game with him.

The next day,  the word “Abracadabra” was written in blue letters on a whiteboard hanging on the wall. I was shocked. Directly below that word, written in green,  was another word:  dandelion.  Clearly the Merman had returned to the pool and had written the words on the whiteboard. I understood writing the word that was in my mind, but I had no idea what the word dandelion meant. Then it came to me: that was the Merman’s name. Dan De Lion.

Was Dan De Lion real? I don’t know.  If he was, then he was as mentally ill as I was.  If he wasn’t real, then I was one of those people you see sitting in restaurants talking to themselves.