This post is dedicated to Drew Underwood, a classmate of mine, who ended his life after a battle with severe depression, my family, friends, and coworkers, without whose support I wouldn’t be healthy today, and my psychiatrist, Dr.Hoyt, who is unbelievably awesome.
In the spring of 2013, I experienced a two month long psychotic episode. A sample of my delusions include delusions of grandeur: thinking I could apologize to a few people causing a chain reaction leading to world peace, thinking I had predicted the future, and briefly thinking I was the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah, as well as persecutory delusions: thinking I was the victim of a network of demon possessed people, false memories of being abused as a child, and briefly thinking I was cursed by God, among nearly countless more. (A testament to how wild psychosis can be is the ironic fact that at one time I thought I was the prophet Elijah and at another time I thought God cursed me.)
Psychosis is a bit like having no sailing experience and being thrown into the world’s toughest ocean, during the ocean’s toughest storm. At times, it’s amazingly exhilarating. You feel like you’re in total control, you can do anything, and you have special powers. At other times, it’s relentlessly overwhelming. You can’t distinguish fiction from reality, you can’t gather your thoughts, and you feel like ending it all would be the best solution.
The main things that got me through this difficult experience were the support of family, friends, coworkers, and religious belief. Without my family providing encouragement, a sense of normalcy, and a safe place to go, I probably would have ended up stranded somewhere talking to myself and trying to bring about world peace for the rest of my life. Without certain friends who spontaneously wanted to hang out on a certain night, I almost certainly would have committed suicide as I had planned to do. Without coworkers who graciously listened to me and allowed me time off work when I crucially needed it, my symptoms could have become much worse and potentially untreatable. Without my religious beliefs, which developed right around the time the episode began, providing the hope and love of God, I would have potentially descended into a deep, hopeless, unending depression. (One of the things that prevented me from committing suicide was the threat of hell, something that’s typically considered the most harmful doctrine of Christianity. A phrase that got stuck in my head one day, that I mistakenly thought was from my childhood, was, “By the time you realize what I have done, it will be too late, you will not be able to cry enough tears, you will not be able to hate me enough, you will want to talk to God, but you know he will not hear you, you will want to kill yourself, but you know you will go to hell.” But, for the most part my religious ideas tended to be the rare bright spots rather than this dark.)
The primary purpose of this post is to encourage people who suffer from mental illnesses of all varieties. You are not alone, and it does get better. The secondary purpose of this post is to encourage the “sane” people. Helping people with mental illnesses is largely up to you (because the crazy people have no idea what the hell is going on!) The little things make a HUGE difference. If someone tells you they’re depressed, believe them. If you notice a friend or family member acting or thinking in a peculiar way, go out of your way to spend time with them, help them in any way you can, encourage them to seek professional help and above all, graciously listen to them. I owe my mental health to the community around me that supported me and listened to me. I really can’t thank you enough. Peace. (…to the World)
BONUS: This awesome comic: http://imgur.com/sctxlJK
BONUS BONUS: This awesome tweet from the based god, Lil B: http://i.imgur.com/B9DnpcY.jpg
P.S. Most people with mental illnesses, as I’ve learned from subreddits and forums and personal experience, seem to have a pretty good sense of humor about it. But, if you know someone with a mental illness, make sure you know them well enough to joke about it. There was one occasion when someone made a joke about one of my delusions that made me feel uncomfortable, but I used the magical powers of my awesome brain to build a delusional bridge and get over it.