How delusions can be an experience and not a symptom; Trish’s story of acceptance

I'm just right the way I am cartoon

Written by Trish

I believe I am just right the way I am.

I believe every indication suggesting otherwise has been dead wrong.  Especially my own thoughts.

I believe the same about you.

How do I know you’re just right?  Well because we all deserve to live in acceptance of who we are.  It is our divine right to take that back from the naysayers.

I believe if we could practice a state of acceptance instead of resistance then illness would decline, the earth would heal, and wars would end.

I was not born with this belief.  It became established through my intention to achieve my most desired want; to accept who I am.  This intention was born early on, in what continues to be a trippy and psychosomatic experience resulting from me going mad after spiritual shock in 2007.

Acceptance does not mean giving up

The last time I remember having delusions was June 2008.  My delusional frenzy of saving the world to get back in the good graces of God was abruptly aborted when a practitioner suggested I was psychotic.

Suddenly I became hyper-vigilant to everything going on in my mind so I could judge the sanity of it.

Kinda like mindfulness’ evil twin.

To the relief of my family and most of my friends, I decided I had to find help in traditional western medicine.

It took 2 years to find the right combination of medication to begin to take the edge off the anxiety, depression and my psychedelic-without-the-acid experiences (often called symptoms of psychotic disorders).

This enabled me to start focusing on accepting my experience.

I could be in the middle of an anxiety attack with my body frozen in a state of tension, the sensation I was floating off the ground, and my mind dizzy with the fear of passing out and I would ask myself ‘what if I am just right in this moment?  What if everything is as it should be?’  My body would follow by relaxing and I would become present for a millisecond.  It was enough for me to recognize acceptance is powerful stuff.

So I applied it whenever I could; a mantra during meditation, an affirmation while working out, a coping mechanism when my mind was racing with anticipatory anxiety, ruminating on acts of injustice toward me by the Universe, problem solving to fix myself… whatever was causing me to tense and labour my breathing.

Acceptance does not mean giving up on what you would call recovery.  It involves taking responsibility for your experience.

This was the jumping off point for me to discover the tools that have helped me the most so far:

  • breath work
  • mindfulness
  • the energy work modalities of:
  • using my sixth sense to bring information from my subconscious into consciousness to gain an understanding of the root cause.

Prior to this, my fixation on being ‘cured’ and trying to get back to the person I was before the trauma had only resulted in relapse after relapse.

It’s primal

I have undergone a lot of healing since finding tools which support my potential to heal.

So to say I was distressed to find myself in the makings of a delusion two weeks ago would be an understatement.

But this time I wasn’t delusional.

Consider this for a second.

One evening I realized I no longer felt constant fear and most of the key memories that triggered my terror were so faded they didn’t even cause arousal.

Sounds like a good thing, right?

Well it wasn’t.

I thought ‘how will I be ready for the next unexpected event to transport me back to the crawlspace of hell if I can’t remember what hell feels like?  What did this mean about me relating and connecting with others who have been to the hell only our minds can create?’

Our need to belong and protect ourselves is primal and when we feel it is jeopardized, we experience stress and fear.  And if you’re like me, the engulfing feeling of terror that falls into the my-survival-is-being-threatened-in-a-really-big-way-and-I-am-not-safe category.

Delusions to cope

Immediately following the feelings of impending doom, I found myself in a fantasy and I let my mind wander until I fell asleep.

For the next day and half I kept returning again and again to this fantasy.  As it continued to develop and become more vivid, I felt more and more elated.  It was so compelling that my ability to do daily tasks on autopilot was disturbed by me forgetting steps.  This got my attention and I started to tune into my mind.

What I found when my mind pulled to this fantasy was encroachment on my reality.  I was doing dishes (in reality) and not only could I see myself in my mind’s-eye doing dishes surrounded by my fantasy world, I sensed the presence of the people, place and things in my fantasy in my kitchen.  If I was not in a state of observation, I would have turned around from the sink expecting to literally be in my fantasy.

Of course my first thought was textbook; delusions are a symptom of psychosis.  I pushed it aside.

I went with my instinct instead.

I have had so many trippy experiences in the last 7 years my first instinct is to go back to find a thread that might lead me to what could have been the trigger.  I remembered the fantasy started the night I felt so unsafe by my realization.

I also remembered a TED talk by Elenaor Longden — a woman who hears voices and how these voices were not a state of schizophrenia but the result of her mind expressing the emotions related to trauma.

That totally made sense to me.

It occurred to me the fantasy turning toward delusion was a coping mechanism for the terror I felt when I thought I was not safe.  This made sense because my fantasy was a creation of a world where:

  1. I belonged; and
  2. my past mental health experiences were not only remembered but valuable in helping another.

Both the things I feared losing that night by no longer feeling the constant fear.

What I found behind the delusion

It has been my experience my mind will show me what I need to ‘see’ to heal because the psyche will always facilitate coming back to wholeness.

I immediately began to use Matrix Reimprinting to connect with the parts of me that needed this delusion to feel safe.  They personify as younger versions of me in my mind.  I gave them compassion and assurance I had their back.  I told them I loved them and accepted them just as they are.  I asked them how they felt and worked with them to give them what they needed.

This turned into actionable steps of finding safe ways to express the emotions I have suppressed so long.  I am now using outlets such as journaling, drawing and writing this story for Mental Health Talk.  I also scheduled to further reduce my medication — gradually and under supervision.  I feel my meds are playing a role in some of my emotional suppression.

It also meant having a backup plan if things got worse which involved keeping my therapist and husband informed.

The fantasy itself was telling.  It brought to light my tendency to leave unacknowledged the parts of me I feel intimidates others.  I realize now that until I accept these, it will be difficult to connect with the people who are interested in knowing and loving me for the full expression of who I am.

And in my darkest hours of questioning and wanting to know why, I reminded myself I have faith that everything is as it should be.  That I am just right.  That all things shall pass.

The delusions faded and went.  I still veer off to my fantasy occasionally which now is a sign I am feeling unsafe and need to address it.

What does recovery look like for you?

I am now practicing acceptance for wanting to stay in my fantasy world—it was emotionally hard at times to maneuver my mind back to reality.  If I did not believe with everything in me that staying present with the pleasure and pain of life is truly where I want to be, this story would have ended differently.

I have also finally defined what recovery means to me.  I encourage you to do the same because if you go with what you’ve been told, it’s either 1) being 100% symptom free or 2) being a “productive” member of society again 3) cannot be defined because it is not possible.

I now define recovery as living with my mental health experiences in acceptance.

This definition comes with benefits.  It has guided me to:

  • a deeper understanding, compassion and love for myself, life and others;
  • self-healing;
  • never a dull moment.

I’d really like to hear from you

I think the old phrase ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ is the best way to drive this story home.

So will you tell yourself right now you are just right as you are and stay tuned into how your body feels?

Please let me know what you experienced in the comments below.

 

Cartoon credit: Trish Hurtubise

 

Trish HurtubiseHi. I’m Trish Hurtubise…the founder, curator and an editor for Mental Health Talk. I love serving those who are relegated to the shadows by society by giving them a platform to share their voice and be seen and heard… hence my passion for working with all the wonderful people who have shared their stories and wisdom on MHT.

You may view all posts by me here.

I believe deeply in embracing what it means to be human. I believe trauma and/or emotional wounding is at the root of mental illness and what stops us from being who we really are.

With that in mind, I have a written a romance novel (under the name Tricia Best) that is a story of two young adults struggling to come together and embrace their sexuality when faced with PTSD and addiction. I wanted the book to have meaning as well as entertain the reader in true new adult romance fashion.

Please visit SayMyNameTheBook.com to read the synopsis and sign up for when the book with be release this fall (late 2016).

Much love to you.


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Comments

  • Bob Brotchie

    A stunning story of ‘life and mind in action’, Trish, thank you so much for sharing.

    For me, I believe I am sharing similar cognitions, emotional states and ‘wondering, and although I am without “delusional” states, I may not be far off at times!

    One person’s delusion may well be another persons reality, and advances in neurosciences are proving this to be the case. What makes this less anxiety provoking is that which you have so beautifully shared in finding “acceptance” for your state of mind, rather than what we believe to be a threat.

    “What we resist – persists”

    Isn’t that so often the case, especially in matters of the mind!

    Only – when I started to accept – and I put out the welcome mat – to the turbulence the mind sometimes finds itself engulfed in, did I find the counter-intuitive acceptance to that which appeared to be threatening me.

    The works and research I study demonstrates clarity in these processes, which not only helps me, it helps those I wish to help! The mind in turbulence, as the body in pain, will refer to previous times for reference; to try and make sense; and it often gets this wrong in these attempts.

    When we stop placing attention on solving a perceived problem, we free up space in which to simply ‘be’.

    I am so blessed to engage with people such as yourself Trish, and the other community members – and all because of our challenged mind; our inquisitiveness, tenacity and desire for peace.

    We are remarkable! Even more so perhaps when we seek to be the very best version of ourselves – whilst welcoming the impermanence of the mind – and life.

    • Trish

      Thank you Bob for sharing your insight–what you shared could be a post in itself! Wonderful. You ARE remarkable.

  • mom

    Trish, I like and accept the person you have become. With everything you have gone through it would be very easy to just slip back into that other world but you have become a much stronger person and you now have the tools to accept the person you have become.

    • Trish

      Thanks Mom. Love you.

  • Twyla

    Hi Trish,
    I just want to take the time to let you know that your post is beautiful and I admire your strength for sharing such a hard part in your life. Recovery is ongoing, and yes… never a dull moment. With your sharing, it is not only beneficial to others reading, but it sounds like it is also healing for you. Keep up the great posts- I admire you and your strength. Thank you for being you. Although the challenges you face are sometimes hard, they are apart of you… and make you who you are. It is an honor to know such a strong lady.

    Sending hugs to you.

    • Trish

      Twyla… I am speechless. You have articulated the reasons I wrote this post… something I could not have done until now.

      The most amazing thing about MHT for me is getting to meet and work with people like you and, as it’s been with you, staying connected after your guest post is done (Twyla’s guest post on MHT: http://mentalhealthtalk.info/depression-suicidal). You are a bright light in my world and a source of inspiration for me to be a better person.

      Much love to you Twyla.

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