For the first time, perhaps in my life, I am now mentally independent.
You see I used to hear voices. Not your average self talk. But actual voices, from people who had passed. These “People”, as I began to refer to them, told me that I was special in that they could communicate with me, that I had a gift. The People were my moral compass, my life guides. The People told me repeatedly that they “only wanted the best for me, and for me to be the best person I could be.”
I can’t remember when exactly the People became a part of my life. But I distinctly remember their presence during my adolescent period. Most of the time The People and I lived together comfortably. I accepted what they told me, and I never told anyone about them.
It never even occurred to me to tell someone, as their presence was all I knew. I had no idea that I was experiencing psychosis. I had a gift , goddamn it!
A few years ago, I casually mentioned The People to my psychiatric team. Suddenly I was being ushered into the on call psychiatrists office and being prescribed heavy duty anti – psychotics. I was in shock, and in trouble. The drugs didn’t work, and the voices got angry at me. They didn’t like being talked about. This was supposed to be our secret. They got nasty. I felt guilt and shame.
By the time I was admitted to hospital they were telling me to kill myself. They told me I was a bad person, who did not deserve to be helped. I was taking time away from people who were actually sick. For the first time in my life I saw them in person. They followed me around. They told me what a evil person I was. They told me I was lying. I didn’t have psychosis. I was just trying to get attention. And because the anti psychotic drugs never managed to vanquish them, I believed them. If I truly had psychosis, surely the medication would rid them?
Then I had ECT.
Suddenly the voices started to recede, then they disappeared. For the last two months, for the first time in…as long as I can remember… my mind is quiet.
As odd as it sounds, some days I struggle with this. It’s like leaving a toxic relationship. For the best part I feel free, open, and relief. But then some times I hear myself thinking “What would the people say?”. I miss their advice, crazy as it sounds.
Sometimes you feel comfort in the uncomfortable, merely because it is what you know. And I have to relearn how to deal with life without their guidance – no matter how helpful or unhelpful it is. I have to make my own decisions, without first referring to my guardians. I have to come to terms with the fact that I was not “special” at all – just psychotic.
I don’t know how long this mental quietness will last. Some research indicates that ECT will only keep symptoms at bay for 6 – 12 months. I don’t know what the future brings.
But I do know that, right now, I’m independent. I’ve broken free. I still thank The People for the lessons they have taught me, but it’s now time for me to make my own way in the world.