I went to a show months ago with a panel of brave folks talking about their mental illness. One girl struck me in particular as she opened her speech with, “I have been diagnosed with ten mental illnesses. I can talk about nine of them.” And then she proceeded to talk about the tenth.
First, I sighed a breath of relief. I long have felt that I have more than bipolar 1. I have other things wrong with me that don’t fit into the symptom list of bipolar disorder. But I’ve finally grown comfortable saying I am bipolar, so I stopped with that diagnosis, believing if there was real scrutiny of my broken brain, it would be more a diagnosis of ‘batshit crazy’ than anything else.
So, without any more hiding, I’m going to say it. I hallucinate. I see things that other people do not see. I hallucinate. I have reasoned out what the shapes are in my periphery and how the message from my eye to brain missed up the air before me with a tangible thing. I hallucinate.
I remember the first time I hallucinated, and it scared the poop out of me. I was not alone and I realized it was not normal when my companion furrowed his brow and gave me that look only a normal could give. And now – actually weeks ago, there was another step in this terrifying brainial thing. I didn’t know it was a hallucination.
It was more than just misinterpretation of a something. It was not a long thing. I just could not tell if it was something that others saw or just me. I looked around deciding whom I could trust with the question, to which my anxiety screamed, ‘not these folks!’ And when I looked back, it was gone. A breath of clarity later, and I knew I had to disclose this development to my psychiatrist. I haven’t even told him I hallucinate, and now I’m going to have to escalate it.
I am afraid of birds. Anyone who knows me understands the sheer terror I have when they are around. There are a few exceptions to this fear. Hawks, Eagles, and Crows. I don’t know why. I am not an expert on ornithophobia or broken brains. So, it occurred to me that the fear of birds is somehow connected to the hallucinating. But then I realized that I do not react to somethings because I either know them to be, or believe they could be hallucinations.
I have bugs mostly. Bugs crawl in front of my fingers as I type and in my periphery. Crawling in the air, unlike the nature of a creepy crawly. Never spiders and perhaps that is the reason I adore arachnids and bug eaters. I have two praying mantises in my bathroom currently hanging out. (Real, not hallucinations – I sent a photo to a friend and she replied indicating she saw the critter.) I am not afraid of bugs. Is it because they are so frequently in my field of view? I don’t know – again, not an expert on broken brains.
I know this is not what people call normal. I don’t want anyone to tell me it’s okay not to be normal or that there is no normal. There most definitely is a normal and I’m not a part of it. What I have is regular stuff. It is regular for me to hallucinate. It is regular for me to sink and speed and cry and yell. It is not normal.
I feel I need to tear my skin off. This is something I have told some people close to me. This is something that, although abnormal, some other people have told me they experience too. I don’t know if it is the same, but it’s fucking weird when it happens and has me concerned for my safety. This week my wrists ache. The flesh beneath my skin is screaming to break free and want me to cut to free the meat within. I am fighting the noise in my brain and the need in my fingertips to scratch until there is a cut I can pick open.
I have bruises all over my body from places I try to cut with my fingertips that I keep wrapped in acrylic now to avoid the blood oozing out. And it worked. I reconditioned myself to NOT scratch myself open to bleed because I could not. Except in the past few months, I have felt the noise and the need so often and so loudly that I use an unbelievable amount of force to get under my own skin, resulting in bruises.
I’ve been physically assaulted and abused. I know what bruises feel like and I know it is not something I should do to myself. One may say that I’m mad enough to give the discoloration because I miss the pain it caused. I miss seeing the changing colors of healing and knowing how long they have to show from the purples, blues, greens, and yellows. And I don’t know if that is it or not, but I know that I see the bruises and I’m embarrassed at them. Not embarrassed enough to over them in shame, but if someone were to ask me what happened, I would respond – I have responded, ‘I was scratching,’ but not a detail of my madness and the need to remove my skin from my body.
I want to breathe. There are days I lay on the couch and I can envision myself with no skin at all. Letting the blood and muscles breathe. It is not normal. It is regular for me. There are days when I feel suffocated with this protective layer and wonder if I am so vulnerable, how is this façade of taut stretched tissue going to protect me at all?
I got punched in the heart this week. I should be offended at the words that were launched with apathy my way. I was crushed. I had tears leak out my face and was not ashamed of the emotion. It wasn’t this single act of apathism for my company, but an onslaught of all the times I’ve been discarded like trash in my relationships with my fellow man. I have said, the stronger one is, the harder they are beaten. I can only take solace in the fact that I must be strong as a fuck to have taken as many licks as I have and still hold it together enough to seem strong enough to be beaten down once again.
I wanted to write this to write. I wanted to share with whomever finds their eyes on my words the moments I feel my weaknesses. I wanted to get it out of my head and hopefully away from my body, so I stop hurting myself. I’m worried about the hallucinations, but so scared to discuss it with anyone, including my doctor. I am terrified of making myself bleed and not being able to recover. I am sickened by the thought that I have lived through much worse than the battle going on within me and I cannot give up regardless of how badly I want a respite from the abnormalities in my brain.