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Anatomy of a Breakdown September 23, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Involuntary Committment, mental illness.
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Looking back at my diaries of 2 years ago, I again became enmeshed in my identity crisis.  It reminded me of how difficult it was to lose who I was. And to find out that who I was wasn’t exactly pleasant.

Before I became psychotic, I was Kathy 1.  Then, when I became psychotic, so many things about me changed that I lost my identity as Kathy 1.  While I was psychotic, this change from Kathy  seemed a very natural turn of events, since my delusion had included my belief that I had always been someone else.  According to my delusion, I was, and always had been, a mermaid named Pangea. For 48 years I just never knew it.

During my psychotic break, Kathy 1 was no more, wiped out of existence, replaced by an entirely new personality: Pangea the Mermaid.  Transfering my identity from Kathy 1 to Pangea was easy. It was an act initiated by me. It was an act controlled by me. I was drawn in gradually over a four month span of time into my new identity as Pangea. My final act of recognition of this sea change was that I planned to change my real legal name to Pangea.  But before I could carry out my plan, I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.

When I was hospitalized, the staff began the long process of stabilizing me.  Part of that process was administration of medication that pushed me out of my delusion that I was Pangea. Logically, removing Pangea from the equation should have left me back at identifying with Kathy 1.  Unfortunately (or not), this didn’t happen.”

It’s difficult to put into words, but the person who was Kathy 1 had certain thought patterns, certain ways of doing things, certain tastes in clothing, hair styles, and expressions of who she was, as well as a much faster speed of thinking, and other brain-related characteristics that made up her very soul. Her very existence.  Those characteristics are gone.

There’s a void where my identity is supposed to be. I try to feel a familiar pattern of thinking or feeling or being and there’s no familiarity at all. Zero. I have no idea who I am. It’s as if I woke up in someone else’s brain. I have no reference points.  I’m in a strange place and can’t find my way back to who I was before. But then do I really want to return to that person?

Through counseling, I learned to analyze  all of the little choices that Kathy 1 made in her life that brought her the total control that she was looking for, which ultimately led to her complete break with reality.  Little things and big things loomed in my head.  Overall, I realized that my efforts at control not only led to my complete break with reality, but in the process had turned me into what I would term a “flaming bitch”.  I had attempted to control virtually every facet of my life down to the last speck of dirt in the house to the greatest extent possible.  Everything was always about me.  It was embarrassing to come to this realization at the age of 48.  How horrible, how narcissistic. It was depressing to consider all of the wasted years, all of the misery, that I had inflicted on people, including those I loved, through the years.  Was there anything I could do to make up for my past bad behavior?

I need to find out how to get me back to who I was before- only nicer.  And if I can’t do that, then I need  to figure out who I am now. For lack of a better word, I’ll call myself Kathy 2.  I need help to discover who she is.

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Hearing Voices and A New Identity September 16, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, ESP, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness.
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I admit the first time I heard the voice of my boss, Mark, while driving down the freeway alone in my car, I was surprised.  He wasn’t in the car or on the cell phone, and yet he spoke to me as clearly as if he were sitting next to me. I realized immediately that I had a special power: ESP. It didn’t seem unusual at all to be gifted with special powers, and it didn’t even cross my mind that I could be mentally ill. I was simply gifted.

I assumed from the very first time I heard Mark’s voice that I had control of my ESP. I assumed that I would be able to simply stop hearing the voices whenever I chose to, and that was how it worked. At first.

Then things changed, and suddenly I was no longer in charge.  The voices were. As the voices slowly increased in number- around 50 at the high- they also increased their grip on my mind, ultimately refusing to leave. When I eventually begged and pleaded with them to leave, they wouldn’t go away.  That’s where the strength of my personality played into the situation.

I should have been terrified when the voices wouldn’t leave. I should have sought immediate medical intervention when I felt my mind being smothered by theirs, wrapping their thoughts around mine and choking me off  like morning glories on a rhododendron.

But because of the nature of my personality, I felt strong enough to handle the situation. I had always succeeded in everything I had undertaken before, so this wouldn’t be any different. I fought hard to keep a sense of self, knowing that I would prevail, despite the increased smothering of my ideas by theirs. To keep things from unraveling, I learned not to express fear. To express fear brought on the evil voices. But to embrace the voices with love kept the voices slightly off-balance. Where there should have been fear in me there was a sort of pity for them.

My saving grace was that the voices never learned how to read my own independent thoughts. This situation is hard to articulate even now, but suffice it to say that they tried to smother and replace my thoughts with their own, but they never knew what my thoughts- my real thoughts- were.

Trying to maintain my separate being from being taken over by the voices was like being in a room with someone fighting for possession of increasingly more space. Never satisfied with taking just a part of the room, they moved their line of possession to increasingly larger sections of the room. As long as I could maintain even a tiny portion of the room, I could hold on to my identity.  That was what protected me from total destruction.

Eventually, the voices took over my entire mind, cleanly breaking my mind off and replacing it with their own, plunging me into a total and complete break from reality. Their reality became my own.

In the days and hours before my involuntary commitment to the mental hospital, my independent personality was a sliver of what it had been before the mental illness took over. As my husband drove me to the emergency room, the last shreds of what used to be me disappeared, replaced in totality by Pangea the Mermaid, the identity of the new inhabitant of my body. The old Kathy was lost forever.

Only strong medication administered in a mental hospital under constant supervision broke their thoughts from my mind. But as their claw-like grip on my mind receded, what remained in the room was not what used to be there. The thoughts that took over my mind also took over my identity, and the medication that wiped out Pangea never replaced it with the old Kathy. My former personality was destroyed first by the voices and then by the medication. The mind emerging from the tunnel isn’t the mind that entered it.

As you might imagine, this situation created an identity crisis of major proportions. I’m not the old Kathy, and neither am I Pangea.  I’m someone entirely new. And that’s where therapy comes in.  My therapist has slowly, over a two year period of time, helped me define and identify who this new person is.  I hate to think about how empty my life would be  without the help of my counselor. Her assistance in rebuilding me from scratch has made life worth living for me and my friends and family.  Without her help, I would be in a horrible place- neither one nor the other. Now I realize that I’m not Kathy 1, and not Pangea. I’m Kathy 2, and that’s just fine.

Psychotic Wife Tests Marriage August 5, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Bipolar Disorder, Delusions, Hallucinations, Involuntary Committment, Mental Hospital, mental illness.
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My nervous breakdown tested my marriage in a major way.  I’m very lucky that my marriage has survived that horrible ordeal- at least for the present.

From the time the voices started in February to the time I was hospitalized in late May, the voices tried to convince me to divorce my husband of 25 years.

The first reason that the voices told me to divorce him was to protect my newly acquired $1.5 million jewelry collection. This collection included a supposedly “yellow diamond” ring acquired at Target for $20, which the voices assured me was actually a real yellow diamond ring worth a million dollars (not true) and an abalone bracelet that I bought from Goodwill that the voices said was an antique bracelet once owned by my Great-grandmother Mermaid and now worth $500,000 (also not true).

The second reason they said I should divorce him was that he was the real behind-the-scenes person responsible for locking me up in a mental hospital, and he was going to keep me there as long as he legally could (not true) and that my only chance of escape from my “prison” was to divorce him as soon as possible. So the first chance I got at the mental hospital I called my attorney to get the divorce proceedings started.  But as the medication began to take effect, I lost the ability to follow through with my actions because I became lethargic and confused. Finally, as the medication began to cause the delusions and hallucinations to go away, I came to realize that my husband wasn’t really trying to keep me locked up, and that I really didn’t have a $1.5 million jewelry collection for him to go after.

After I returned home and began to realize the magnitude of the damage I inflicted both personally and financially, I became convinced that he was going to divorce me, and that he was just waiting for me to get well enough to divorce him. After all, why would he stay?

Besides the paranoia about what I perceived as my impending divorce, I was undergoing a major medication-induced identity crisis.

The reality was that Bob was free to divorce me at any time, and many less patient men would have simply walked away from me at numerous points. Some husbands would have left back in February or May, when I started talking about wanting a divorce, or in late May when I was spending tens of thousands of dollars. Others would have served me divorce papers in the hospital, as happened to some of my fellow patients.  Still other spouses would have waited until I was on my feet again, able to take care of myself, before cutting the cord.

He put up with the trials of living with a woman going through a severe break with reality, including the delusions and paranoia that accompanied the break. He watched helplessly as an out-of-control woman who was legally still his wife but whom he didn’t recognize begin to dismantle his financial future by spending thousands of dollars on clothes and plants and even a $50,000 Lexus convertible.

Then, he suffered through the three weeks I spent at a mental hospital, unable to share that fact with anyone due to the tremendous stigma attached to that fact. As if the fact that I was at a mental hospital wasn’t shocking enough, he found the courage to visit me on a daily basis, despite my less-than-pleasant reception ( I thought he was holding me there on purpose against my will). He didn’t understand what kind of world I inhabited, but realized that I wasn’t really “there” when he visited me, but nevertheless suffered through his daily visits with me anyway. He watched as I tried to take up smoking. He listened when I continued to ask him for a divorce, even listening patienly as I gave him a piece of paper that represented a preliminary breakdown of the assets I planned to receive in our upcoming divorce settlement.

Even when he saw that I was not getting better, and when I ignored him when he visited, he still hung in there. He understood the very real possibility that my mind might be forever locked up in my fantasy world, unable to return to the real world. He realized that he might have to take care of me – what was left of me- alone, might have to raise our kids- alone.

My real road to recovery didn’t begin to materialize until several weeks after I was released.  But as the medication that would bring me back to the real world began to take effect, the side effects from the medication were another nightmare. Depression, suicide thoughts, Parkinson’s disease symptoms, grogginess, fainting, constant crying, weight gain, and a myriad of other medication-induced symptoms became the norm. I couldn’t read, couldn’t drive, could barely walk, had balance problems, couldn’t comb my hair or peel a banana or make my bed. I was anxiety-riddled, having to have my days planned out to the last minute or I’d become miserable. I was almost totally helpless, and there was no guarantee that my physical health would ever return. He supported me through that horrible period without complaint. He was always there for me.

As my side effects slowly began to diminish over time, and as I again returned to the land of the living, some of the pressure is off.  But without the love and support of him and my family, I would still be in the psychotic world, disconnected from reality, for the rest of my life. I’m one of the few lucky ones who has managed to find their way back.

My Own Voices Return (Again) July 7, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness, Mental Illness and Medication.
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My sleep cycle got off a few days ago when we were camping.  I was sleep-deprived more or less when a 1 ½ year old boy belonging to one of the families we were with kept waking up about every 2 hours during the night. Combined with the inconvenience of sleeping in a tent in a strange place, my sleep and my schedule took a severe beating which meant that my stress level increased proportionally.  Not surprisingly, I began hearing voices again.

Although hearing voices would be scary to the average individual, someone like me, who has a history of hearing voices, isn’t frightened by them for several reasons. The first reason is that they’re relatively comfortable- like an old shoe. I’ve had them before, and I will probably have them again.  Secondly, thanks to my wonderful psychiatrist and counselor, I know that with proper treatment they will go away. Just how severe that treatment has to be to get them to leave is the real question.  Can I just reduce the stress and make them go away by myself, or do we need to escalate treatment up to the Haldol level or commitment to the mental hospital level?

Whenever I hear voices, I have an agreement with my family and physician. I must always tell my husband and sister, whether I want to or not. I realize that not telling them is a slippery slope, leading me back to the point where I once again get comfortable with them.  I want to discourage that mindset as soon as it starts to rear its ugly head.

Regardless of my own relative lack of concern, learning that I’m hearing voices again is always scary from my family’s perspective. Besides my family’s fear factor, one of the more unfortunate and upsetting points about hearing voices (for me) is that once again I have to come face to face with the fact that I have a mental illness.

Before the camping trip, I was feeling so good that it was easy to convince myself that I was no longer mentally ill.  Maybe, in fact, I had never really been mentally ill. Maybe it was all a mistake. Based on the relative stability of a couple of weeks or months,  I had convinced myself that I no longer needed any counseling and that soon I would be going off my meds entirely.

But now with this latest episode bringing back the voices, I must once again confront the fact that obviously am not “cured” like I thought I was, and that’s a major disappointment for me.   I really had myself convinced that I wasn’t sick any more.  I believed that I had grown out of my illness (or was misdiagnosed), and that very shortly I would be going back to my old way of living and working.   I thought I didn’t need my medications anymore because I was no longer mentally ill.  Things were going so well before the camping trip vacation that I really thought I had the illness under control and maybe whipped for good.  It was so nice to feel that good, looking forward to an illness-free future.

My latest episode of hearing voices returns me back to the point where once again I have to acknowledge that I have a mental illness and that I have certain limitations in my daily living.  I have to adhere to those restrictions or else I will find myself going back into my old psychotic ways.  Because I took action right away, although the voices came back, they weren’t nearly as loud and dominating as they used to be.  But when they returned, I realized that if I didn’t do something about them (get more sleep and reduce my stress levels as much as possible) the voices would increase in loudness and frequency, and it’s possible that I would find myself hospitalized once again.

And so yesterday afternoon I began my program of doing nothing, and today I continued that program.  The only thing I accomplished today was doing a blog on anosognosia, which is the inability of a person with a mental illness to realize they are ill.  It’s ironic that I did that blog, since I believed based on my own personal lack of symptoms for several weeks that I no longer had a mental illness. Because I had been symptom-free for so long,  I was so sure that I was no longer mentally ill that I was prepared to stop my medication because I believed that I was close to being “cured”.

It’s easy for me to understand how someone with a mental illness can be in denial.  It’s  a lack of symptoms kind of thing.  I think that’s what a lot of people on medication get caught up in.  It’s a logical point: If I take medication and I get better, then I actually get well entirely and no longer need that medication. Therefore, I can discontinue its use and return to my old way of life. It’s a cause and effect thing. No symptoms for a certain amount of time means that I am no longer ill.  It’s such a symptom-driven illness that the absence of the symptoms indicates an absence of the illness itself.

And so, it’s not particularly surprising to learn that roughly 70 percent of people with mental illness stop taking their medication at some point in their life.  We so badly want to be cured that we wish ourselves into being cured.  In my own case, I was really, truly symptom-free for weeks  (which is forever in the mental illness realm).  No voices, not even a hint.  And with a little lack of sleep and stress, a cocktail of mental illness symptoms raised its ugly head.  That fast.

Of course, going off my medication, had I decided to go that route, would have doubtlessly put me back into a severe case of psychosis, bringing me to the point (possibly) of hospitalization.  At the end of the day, I would have returned to a much stronger cocktail of medication designed to make the psychosis, whatever its form, go away, along with the voices that would surely accompany it.  It likely wouldn’t have taken me long to fall back into that abyss of voices and psychosis. And what a horrible thing that would have been to do to my family.  So I’m glad that I had that little episode while camping. It kept me from having bigger problems than just a few voices.

Out-of-Body Experiences and Brain Chemistry May 5, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Medication, mental illness, Mental Illness and Medication.
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During the course of my psychotic break with reality, I experienced a deep understanding of God and the Universe. As part of this experience, my sense of “self” expanded to include the entire universe and everything in it, including God.  I was literally One with the Universe.

As the hospital personnel administered increasingly larger doses of antipsychotics and mood stabilizers in an attempt to snap me out of my psychotic state, the medication brought my sense of “self” back inside the physical confines of my body.  My sense of Oneness with the Universe was gone, replaced with a sense of containment inside the constructs of my human body.

As the medication continued to course through my bloodstream in ever-larger doses, it eventually built up to a point where my sense of self was removed from my body entirely.  I viewed my body from a point about a foot above my head at a 45 degree angle, experiencing life as an observer.

Complaining of this symptom to my psychiatrist, he knowingly shook his head, declaring it a side effect of the lithium. Reducing the dosage of lithium and eventually replacing it with a different drug served to return my “self” back into the confines of my physical body, where it continues to reside to this day.

Based on my experience, it is clear that we can induce an expansive sense of self as well as a minimalist sense of self in the same person using chemistry.   The expansive self incident was induced by stress-related changes in brain chemistry, while the minimalist incident was induced by direct injection of a drug that changed my brain chemistry.  Both incidents were two sides of the same coin.

Illegal drugs are another route to induce either an expansive sense of self or a minimalist sense of self, as evidenced by the popularity of drugs like LSD. In fact, when I have relayed my psychotic experience to acquaintances that ingested LSD, they said the stress-induced state of psychosis I experienced is almost identical to the drug-induced state of psychosis they experienced.

Some acts, such as meditation and talk therapy, help a person get a more expansive view of themselves and the world around them which seems to change their brain chemistry (for the better).  Yoga acts something along these lines, helping the individual bridge the gap from containment inside the physical body to expansion of the “self” beyond the boundary of the physical body.

It’s well-known that some people experience an out-of-body sensation while in surgery, viewing the action from outside their bodies.  The chemical changes in their brains from the drugs used in the surgery are the obvious culprits. I experienced the same phenomenon as a result of antipsychotic and mood stabilizer drugs I took. It’s easy to discount the out-of-body experience as not legitimate.  And yet let us not discount the reality of the experience by saying that it isn’t “real” because a “self” can’t really be outside someone’s body. The perspective of seeing life from outside the physical confines of your body is as legitimate as any other perspective.

(Note: This blog was inspired by the Neurophilosophy blog of December 2008 titled The Body Swap Illusion)

Mental Illness and A Sense of “Self” May 3, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Medication, mental illness, Mental Illness and Medication.
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One of my favorite bloggers is Neurophilosophy. (Well) written by a neurobiologist who keeps abreast of findings in the neurobiology world, he manages to distill these findings down into an understandable format for those of us who are non-scientists.

In his December 2008 blog The Body Swap Illusion,  the Neurophilosophy blogger delves into the physical and psychological boundaries between “self” and the various appendages of “self” (including hands and various other body parts), taking his data from  experiments cited in the blog.  The experiments, conducted primarily using the sensory inputs of sight and touch, were focused solely on the quantifiable scientific sense of “self”.

My first mental-illness related experience with the sense of “self” was the expansion of self that I experienced  during the tail end of my manic phase (right before my hospitalization).  As my connection with God expanded and as my understanding of all things in the Universe expanded, so did my sense of “self”.  Eventually, right before I was hospitalized, my sense of self expanded way beyond my physical body.

After I became hospitalized, they administered a large amount of medication in an attempt to snap me out of my psychosis as soon as possible. As the medications began to take effect, my sense of self contracted from way beyond my physical body to containment inside my physical body, which is what we call “normal”.

As the medication built up in my body, my sense of “self” went from grandiose all-encompassing to a return back inside the normal confines of my physical body.  But then I reached the tipping point, crossing over the threshold. My “self” moved from inside the normal confines of my physical body to completely outside my body, about a foot above my head at a 45 degree angle. From this perch, I watched everything happen to me as if I were watching a movie.  I wasn’t connected to the reality of my existence at all.

As I related that out-of-body symptom to my psychiatrist, he knew exactly what I was talking about. Attributing it to the lithium, he then proceeded to adjust the dose of lithium to the point where I no longer experienced this “out-of-body” feeling.

Both of these situations involve the location of “self”.  So where exactly is “self”? Or more precisely, what is the proper location of “self”? And who decides?

Those without the ” proper”  location of “self” are deemed mentally ill in our world today.  In my case, at first I had an expanded sense of “self”, encompassing the entire universe and God.   Because society deems that location of “self”  is dangerous and wrong, that situation must be managed. The management of this condition involves medically shrinking the “self” back into the confines of the physical body.  But too much medication forces the “self” completely out of the body.  At that point, the medication must be adjusted to bring the “self” back into the body.

So it’s a fine line between having enough medication to prevent the expansion of self beyond the physical limits of our bodies and having too much medication which moves the self completely outside the physical limits of our bodies.  It’s interesting that both conditions were engendered by a chemical reaction in my brain.

New Hallucinations in the Mental Hospital April 7, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in ESP, Hallucinations, Mental Hospital, mental illness.
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It’s understood implicitly that once you enter a mental hospital, you don’t have any new kinds of hallucinations. If you have any at all, they’re supposed to be simply a repeat of hallucinations that you’ve already had.  But that’s not true.

On June 8, 2008, I was at the mental hospital during the 2008 NBA Finals, when the Los Angeles Lakers played the Boston Celtics at Boston. Having been involuntarily committed the week before, I sat in the commons room with Bruce, a patient diagnosed with bipolar 1 with schizophrenia, watching the beginning of the championship game from a point about 8 feet away from the screen of a tv encased in plexiglass.  Bruce was a huge fan of the game, which was being broadcast live from Boston, home of the Celtics.

For the record, I never grew up around basketball, so never had the opportunity to become a fan of the game.  I don’t know the various basketball players except for the extremely famous ones like Kobe Bryant, who happens to play for the Lakers. I don’t know the positions each of the players play, and I don’t know the rules of the game. About all I know is that a player takes the basketball down to the opposite end and tries to put the ball through the hoop. If he succeeds, his team gets a point. But unlike many other games, the game doesn’t stop once a player scores a point.

Before the game started, faint squiggly lines, resembling a flashlight moving rapidly across an object, superimposed themselves on top of each player, keeping within the outline of each player’s body.  As the camera zoomed in and out and the size of the figures changed on the screen, the light kept in scale to those changes without going outside the outlines of the player’s body.

As the game started and the players began to move, the intensity of that white light increased. When a player went “all out”, their light became especially bright. When the player stopped moving, his light dimmed. As he sat on the bench, his light dimmed almost to the point where it disappeared. At least that was the way it worked in the beginning.

In one player, the intensity of light was about 3 or 4 times that of the other players. I made a point of finding out who that player was, and was not surprised when that player turned out to be Kobe Bryant. After I figured that out, it was easy to pick out Kobe while he was on the floor, since his light was so bright.  Even at rest, his light was brighter than the others. It didn’t really matter what was going on around him, because his light intensity didn’t vary much. It was always very bright.

Once the game started, each player’s light changed in intensity depending on what was going on in the game. For example, if the Lakers had the ball, all of the lines of the Lakers players dramatically increased in intensity. Bryant’s light lit up like a Christmas tree. As the Laker lights increased, each of the Celtic player lights decreased in intensity to the same degree.  When the Lakers lost the ball to the Celtics, the reverse would happen. The Celtic lights, once dimmer than the Laker lights, increased in intensity while the Laker lights, once brighter than the Celtic lights, dimmed. Back and forth the light intensity went, depending on who had possession of the ball. That was all very interesting. But even more interesting was the crowd.

Before the game started, I noticed that the stadium crowd, like the players, had those same squiggly white lights on them as well. The difference was that the spectators were wedged rather tightly together, so that their individual lights formed one large ring around the stadium.

Mirroring the players, that light brightened and dimmed, depending on how their team was doing at any particular moment. As the home team did well, the crowd’s ring brightened up. As the home team did poorly, the crowd’s ring dimmed. Bright and dim, bright and dim, the crowd’s light changed over and over.

That particular game was unique in that the game came down to the wire. The closer to the end of the quarter the game got, the brighter the crowd’s light got. The bright lights got the brightest they had been during the entire game, and the dims got the dimmest. Violent swings of intensity marked the crowd’s lights.

It didn’t matter to me who won and who lost. What mattered was that I had this hallucination, and that this hallucination was shared by Bruce. As the game began, I asked him if he could see what I did. When he answered in the affirmative, we whispered our awareness with each other as the game progressed.

So it’s not true that the delusions stop once we’re hospitalized. And it’s not true that we don’t start having new hallucinations once we enter the hospital.  I know what I saw.

House Bill 3076, Vampires and Cop Killers March 17, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Involuntary Committment, mental illness.
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Yet another case of an un-medicated mentally ill homeless person in Seattle made recent national news. A  little different than normal,  this individual in question believed that he was a vampire, entering a homeless shelter looking for “food” in the form of people he could eat. When the shelter refused to serve him his “food” and shuffled him outside, he strapped a metal device to his arm with electrical tape and proclaimed it was a bomb, shutting down a large section of downtown Seattle while his (false) claims were investigated.

What do a vampire and a cop killer have in common?  Each of these individuals exhibited behavior that should have gotten them involuntarily committed to a mental hospital prior to their acts of violence. But due to the way our commitment laws here in Washington State are constructed, both the cop killer and the vampire were able to put up a good “front” of sanity as they were being interviewed by the County Mental Health Professional for possible involuntary commitment prior to their acts of violence. With the stroke of a pen, Governor Chris Gregoire can change all of this, making Washington State a safer place to work and play.

Passed by the State Senate on March 9, 2010 and the House on March 10, 2010, House Bill 3076, sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting her signature, is nothing short of an overhaul of the State’s involuntary commitment laws.

The way the law stands now, a judge cannot take into consideration any evidence from witnesses regarding the behavior of a person being evaluated by a County Mental Health Professional for possible involuntary commitment.  If an adult son or daughter living with their parents exhibits severe psychotic behavior in front of the parents but manages to keep it under wraps before the County Mental Health Professional, there is no way for the parents to act as witnesses to their son’s psychotic behavior.  The County Mental Health Professional’s report to the judge making the decision regarding whether or not to involuntarily commit the person with the mental illness cannot contain any information except that which the Professional obtained directly from the person with the mental illness. No outside witnesses are allowed to give evidence or testimony.  This means that if the person with the mental illness is sufficiently lucid enough, he can avoid commitment by simply holding it together long enough to get through the exam without blowing his cover. The exam over, the person reverts to his psychotic behavior once again.  This scenario played out in the case of both the cop killer and the vampire. But after Governor Gregoire signs the new bill, this scene is much less likely to play out- at least in Washington State.

The new law gives witnesses, including family members, neighbors, landlords, or anyone else with significant contact and involvement with the person, the ability to give testimony to the Mental Health Professional as credible witnesses. The Mental Health Professional must rely upon information from this testimony from these credible witnesses in reaching a decision regarding whether to detain the individual.

The end product of this new legislation will be that people with severe mental illness who have been able to bamboozle Mental Health Professionals will be caught up short by people they have significant contact with. No more lying to keep out of the mental hospital.  No more fooling the professionals with 2 hours of acting “normal” followed by 2 months of Hell when they get back home.  Although this won’t catch all of the cop killers and vampires out there, it will go a long ways towards finding them.

(Note: House Bill 3076 was signed into legislation by Governor Gregoire on April 1, 2010).

The Merman and Alien Baseball Cards March 13, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, mental illness.
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One morning, I was just finishing up swimming my laps 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 told him 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, despite the fact that he had just entered the pool. I agreed to meet him.

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 settled down to wait for my new Merman friend. Soon afterward he arrived, purchasing his cup of coffee and joining me at a small table by a fireplace.

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 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.

Each card had a color photo of an Alien on it, with the name of the player under the photo. On the other side of the card was the player’s position, batting average, and all of the other statistics typically found on a typical baseball card.  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, walking around the side of the pool where the hot tub was, glancing up at a whiteboard that was hanging over the hot tub, I saw the word “Abracadabra” written in blue letters. Directly above that word, written in green,  was another word:  dandelion. I was shocked at seeing the word “Abracadabra”. Clearly the Merman had been back at the pool and had written the word on the whiteboard for me to find. But what of the other word? What could it mean?  Then it came to me: that was actually the guy’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.

Suicide: Opting Out of Hearing Voices March 5, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness, Suicide.
Tags: , , , , ,
4 comments

As my psychosis progressed, I became increasingly more frustrated with the voices in my head. With me from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep, their incessant talking was driving me crazy.  I couldn’t be alone in my head. There was always at least one person- and most times more- with me in my head.  It was like being at a perpetual party where the guests never left.  It was never quiet.  Finally, I decided that I had had enough. They needed to leave.  All of them.  So I started out by politely asking them to go away.  They ignored me.

When that didn’t work, I used the mean route.  I was nasty to them, answering their questions with rude comments or ignoring them.  Fortunately for me, they never had been able to tell what I was thinking. Nevertheless, their incessant chatter wore me down. And, to make matters worse, they began to treat me the same way that I had treated them.

Failing the other attempts,  I begged them to leave.  I pleaded with them.  I told them that if they really cared for me, they would leave me alone.  I tried to reason with them, doing everything that I could think of to get rid of them. Despite my best efforts, they remained.

Then, they started filling my head with nightmare-type thoughts.  Devils, blood, stabbing people, gore- that sort of thing would pop into my head.  I was a little afraid, not knowing whether I was going to act on any of it.  But I knew it was them, and not me, putting those images in my head as punishment. They were trying to control me with fear. It came close to working a few times, but in the end I was not going to let them win.

My choices, as far as I knew, were to live with the voices in my head for the rest of my life, to tell someone about the voices and be locked up in an insane asylum for the rest of my life, or to commit suicide.

As the voices continued to take their toll on me,  the suicide option soon began to look good. Except for its effect on my family, that is. Strangely enough, it didn’t dawn on me how terrible their lives would be without me.  My sole concern was protecting them from the embarrassment of my suicide. I was obsessed with making my suicide look like an accident. Then I came up with the perfect scenario. Hitting a bridge abutment at 60 miles per hour late at night fit the bill nicely. I would, I hoped, die quickly and painlessly, and it would look like an accident so my family would be spared of the pain associated with suicide.   It was like one of those “death with dignity” situations- at least in my mind.

Armed with my new plan, I presented the voices in my head with a choice. Either they leave- forever- or I’d hit the bridge abutment.  One way or the other, they were going to leave.  If they stayed, I would kill myself and they would lose the body they were inhabiting. If they left, they would also lose the body they were inhabiting.  Leave or else.

The first time I threatened them, they left for several days. But then they returned. I threatened again. They left again (for a shorter period of time) and returned. Soon, my threat started to lose its power. In the end, they came to believe that I didn’t really mean it.

I came very close several times. Driving down the road at night, looking for overpasses, I almost turned the wheel many times. It wouldn’t take much. Just a slight adjustment of the steering wheel and the voices would be gone forever. But in the end, I just couldn’t do it.  I chose insanity over death.

NOTE: My suicide- had I committed it- would have appeared as an accident because absolutely nobody knew about the voices and delusions at that point.