Trigger Warning: Talk of panic and paranoia.
We’re All Mad Here
I have spent a vast amount of my adult life battling, confronting, denying, engaging and dancing with my nemesis diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia. Most of the time I find myself just stuck. Belligerent thoughts that argue back and forth that are not my own. I can just hear them, continuing in debate like I’ve gatecrashed a kind of business conference. They clank and collide like parts of a machine that has no power down function. I attempt to tune them out and on the rare occasions where I am successful they then resemble a monotonous droning like the sound of quiet background TV minus the habitual comfort.
Having an element of control over the voices enables me to concentrate my efforts on my crippling anxiety that takes many forms. Social anxiety I “conquered” merely by just becoming a recluse. It was the easiest thing to do and eliminated all my fears of the world outside my front door. So a recluse I became apart from midnight runs to the all night store in a hooded top and sunglasses. Nobody knew who I was and I didn’t know who anybody was – just the way I like it. My bedroom became my sanctuary and I made it into my own little world, my own environment – my rules, my space, sparkling clean, no germs and nobody could tamper with my tea or medication. Having such transparent control like this keeps me focused, keeps me running despite it’s damaging connotations.
The panic is tougher to confront. It’s power is quite overwhelming and at any given moment during an attack I feel as if I am facing death constantly or being informed inside my head that I deserve death and it was always coming to get me anyway. The physical torment of these attacks come in the form of terrible shakes and trembling that I cannot control, my heart beats so fast with erratic rhythm and I feel as if it would explode out of my chest. Cold sweats that force me to regularly change my clothes up to several times a day and night – usually pajamas as I hate wearing normal clothes as this represents the world outside to me. I am restless beyond belief and my little enforced routines in my sanctuary cause me to never be able to sit or lay still. I get in and out of bed hundreds of time, over and over to do some little thing – re-light a candle, pit an incense stick on, rearrange books and papers, I start labeling things and panic that my clothes and linen are not folded and rolled properly. It’s sheer panic sometimes and I cannot rest. I am tormented with this and cannot even sit still through a TV show or a movie. My mind will not allow me to rest. To say it’s difficult to overcome such events as my panic attacks is an understatement. Most of the time I feel like I’ve cheated death several times a day and somebody divine is taking pity on me.
My constant companion is paranoia and if I really consider all aspects of this mental illness I would have to say this is the worst one to handle. Paranoia is relentless and unforgiving. It does not stop to take a break and it seeps into every single detail of my life. It will find a way no matter what. Just when I believe I have a grip on the day and might be able to make it through it there it is to greet me. I am forever looking over my shoulder, listening for any words people may say, I write everything I do down in several diaries and journals each day so I can remember events, conversations and details so nobody can catch me out. I am plagued with miserable thoughts of what people think of me, what they say about me and how they feel about me. It’s like a conspiracy and they’re all in it together to “get” me. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I am mobbed with some kind of intervention for doing something that I have no recollection of but it will be terrifyingly bad. My own thoughts feel like they are being chronically stolen and broadcast elsewhere so I am never sure what I have sad or done. I don’t know if the paranoia preys on my bad memory and the fact that I seem to have little control over my mind. My phone and the mail scares me a lot. Yes, that’s right, I can be frightened of a letter being posted into my mailbox. I never know what it’s going to be and with the phone I become frozen and find it extremely difficult to be myself and talk to people, even close members of my family. The only person I seem to find it easy and safe with is my boyfriend who is beginning to understand more about me and this condition.
Hallucinations are another thing all together. For me the word hallucination just doesn’t seem right when describing what I see. They are not visions to me they are just a very normal part of my life. I have never seen anything clearly, fully or front on ahead of me, they are always out of the corner of my eye or if they do appear front on then they are always moving very quickly or running across my field of vision, blurry and fast. I see people and animals, the people are always the same people, the animals vary. They always let me know when they are coming. After a dry taste in my mouth I then get a warm feeling come over me but it is not comforting in any way. They are not always visual, I receive, I suppose, audio hallucinations too, various music playing and I hear names and conversations and other unidentifiable sounds. Over the years I have learned to accept and ignore my “hallucinations” and I have become adept in recognising what is “real” and what is not. In the past, I have engaged with my visions verbally but it was not a pretty experience and I am much better off ignoring them and carrying on like they are not there. I rarely talk about this side of my Schizophrenia as I am often met with mockery, disbelief and criticism. I cannot stand to be misunderstood and judged in this way through ignorant eyes, ears and opinions. I surrender, once again, to silent reclusiveness as it offers me relief from the pressures of this world and the attitude of some people towards somebody like me with this condition.
Night times are exposed as the most formidable for me. I have painsomnia and hardly sleep. If I do it’s broken and laced with night terrors. 3am will arrive and it knows all my secrets. I shrink away in abject terror. I pray, no I beg for sleep before it arrives. It rarely happens and I am forced to confront those things that tumble out of Pandora’s box. I really must get that lock fixed …
I am a tortured writer who used to love cheesecake, I’m slightly crazy but I go everywhere carrying a heart of gold. Whilst battling chronic illnesses – Insulin dependent Diabetes, Paranoid Schizophrenia and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) – and physical pain each waking day I endeavour to record all my thoughts, dreams and ramblings in my many scattered notebooks. I write every day as the worst ink survives the best memory. Writing is my passion, my obsession, especially about my mental health, it is something I cannot live without. It makes me deliriously happy and I adore connecting and reaching out to my readers and my circle with love, empathy and a kindred understanding. I am often crushed by isolation and rejection but I combat this through my writing and hope that I can reach others who may be feeling the same way.
I am a young, slender woman of 36 who believes in the whispers of thrills, the kindness of strangers and has been lucky enough to have found the one who will love me like crazy back. Dave is my rock.
I write about real life, particularly my own but also fiction too usually based on my favourite classical themes or relationships, tragedies and the glorious mess that is life. The people I love dearly are my support network with my illnesses. They keep me going and keep me writing …
Shez can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
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