What follows is a depiction of what it feels like to experience first-hand a full psychotic break. This incident happened in my life about 2 yrs ago now. The last handful of posts described what lead up to it and in my opinion why it happened.
Looking back, the wild part about it, is that I pretty clearly remember almost all of it. There are however, aspects of it that aren’t as vivid to me, a little blurry in retrospect. I will preface this by saying this. Being 2 yrs out and in a very healthy grounded headspace, I am aware that much of what I will describe was 100% in my mind and not real as we know it.
But at the time, in my altered state, it was as real to me as the words I am presently typing. I saw things, heard things, felt things, touched things, smelled things that weren’t actually happening. In short, I lost my mind as I know it and that which I lived through is what I would call hell on earth.
What I will share took place over the span of about 3 months. It started slowly, but progressively over time the true darkness descended upon me. At about 2 months into it, the actual decompensation occurred (where there was no reaching me cognitively speaking), and 2 weeks of hospitalization in a psych ward occurred. I should mention that nowhere in this timeline did suicidal thoughts enter my mind, but where I was mentally during those 2 weeks was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, ever.
I was living a true nightmare. And despite this, with the help of modern medicine, alternative medicine, love, patience, forgiveness, and hardwork, I lived to tell as Madonna would say. I believe all of it was necessary for my soul’s evolutionary arc. And feel it is my mandate to share with others so that we all can learn. Present day I feel more grounded, peaceful, humble, grateful, loving and open than at any time in my life... 🙏
Are there “scars” that remain from this? You bet. But they serve as a reminder to me, to do what I can to live and breathe into the present moment; to do the daily practices that keep my mind, heart and body as healthy as possible, so that I may live, serve and love with all that I am while I’m here on planet earth.
When it began, my mind and body were overflowing with stress in the form of fear, depression, confusion, anxiety and overwhelm. Insomnia was what came next (I should add that I had had some sleepless nights here and there throughout my life, but nothing that lasted more than 2-3 nights max). My brain wouldn’t shut off, I was tired but wired.
My behavior was changing dramatically. I began to withdraw from everyone and everything. I started to cancel on my clients last minute, I stopped working out and meditating. And with pretty much everyone, I was lying about what was going on. No one, was getting the whole story.
To try to stop the downward spiral, I started seeing a therapist. But that wasn’t working because the “perfectionist” in me couldn’t fully admit what was happening and why. Only half truths were coming out of my mouth everywhere. I remember heading to an appointment one day and a voice inside was repeating the words “the truth shall set you free”, and I knew this was my higher self trying to reach me, but I just wasn’t willing to listen to it. The walls were closing in faster than I knew what to do.
As the insomnia continued, I started to cancel my appointments with the therapist, my work started to suffer as I couldn’t remember sequences to train my clients. I was completely lost. I started calling my brother and sister pretty much daily, talking their ears off for upwards of 2 hrs sometimes, but talking in circles and non-sensically. I arranged to see a doctor to try to get a prescription for sleep meds and anti-anxiety pills. Pretty easily I was able to get them without much inquiry from the doctors about my history. This reality is pretty scary if you ask me. But that’s for another day.
I took the sleep med for about 2 nights but it provided no relief at all, so I stopped it. The sleepless nights continued as did the downward spiral. It was about 3-4 weeks into insomnia at this point and the first round of delusions and paranoia began to hit.
It started with the belief that certain foods and water were contaminated with hallucinogens, so I stopped eating and drinking a lot of foods. I began to think my phone and apartment were tapped, so I started to whisper in all conversations. It was out of control. I continued to show up for work but was really in no shape to be there. But my rational mind was now being overrode by the irrational.
Soon thereafter, without telling anyone, I set up an appointment with a different doctor to get another prescription, this time it was for an anti-depressant and a different sleep aid. Again I took them for about 3 days then quit as I wasn’t experiencing any relief. (Btw most anti-depressants take about 4-6 weeks to start working). I was underwater and drowning fast. My brother and sister talked me into going to the emergency room to ask for help.
They did an assessment but because I wasn’t suicidal, they sent me home. Things kept getting worse. My family finally talked me into flying home to Ohio for triage (round 1). Which I did. While there, I began to believe that I was being watched everywhere I went.
(I wanted to remind you that what you’re reading about took place 2 years ago. Through a multi-faceted approach to healing and recovery (inclusive of Western allopathic medicine, Eastern alternative medicine, therapy, meditation, yoga, fitness, breathwork, cold immersion, visioning, love, forgiveness, honesty, patience and time) I am feeling as grounded and fulfilled as I ever have. I firmly believe that which I experienced was absolutely necessary for me to breakthrough some seriously limited beliefs and experience/feel/honor/release unresolved traumas from my past so that I could become the person I was meant to be in this lifetime. (More on this another time)).
So back to the story..
...Speaking of bugs, I began to “see” ticks in my apartment and believed they were in my bed, biting me at night. Related to my home, I was convinced someone had gained access to my apartment, was coming in while I wasn’t there and was peeing on the floors and bedspread. They had taken my wallet and had gained access to my identity and tapped into and drained my accounts. I became petrified of my home and saw dirt and grime everywhere.
When I did show up to teach my classes, I’d began to smell a fowl stench coming from my mats. I believed that when my car was “switched out”, someone had covered my mats in a toxic substance. (As I’m writing this I’m realizing that in hindsight, obviously I needed help much, much earlier). Through it all I somehow felt I was ok and that this was now my life.
One day close to when Liz and my family intervened, I remember I was teaching a class (horribly I might add) and I thought the helicopters overhead were hovering overhead so that they could “read my thoughts”. In my mind, I believed they were building a case to lock me up for being a fraud and a monster. I think about 3 weeks had passed since my week trip to Ohio. Behind the scenes, Liz and my family were connecting planning to get me home to Ohio for treatment. At this point, I had sequestered myself in my apartment with the shades drawn.
That night the auditory hallucinations hit a peak. Through the walls I heard the sound of electric saws and human screams, cries for help. It was horrifying but I was paralyzed. I was frozen. I think part of me knew it was in my head but part wasn’t sure. But I did nothing for about the next 6 hrs or so as it continued.
For some reason, the next morning, I went over and knocked on my neighbors door and asked her if everything was alright and she said yes. I didn’t tell her why I was asking and just walked away back to my dark apartment.
That same day Liz came over to tell me I had a flight to catch that was taking me home to Ohio. And thank God she did, I was confused and scared (and unbeknownst to me, soon to completely lose it. She said she was there to check on me and help me pack and then drive me to the airport.
I had no idea what was going on and even thought Liz wasn’t Liz. Driving to the airport, I tried to open the door numerous times to get out but Liz somehow found a way to keep me there. I can’t even imagine how frightening all of this must have been for Liz.
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