An Abnormal Reality
In the Beginning
The first highlights of what I now understood to be a war of reality within my mind were probably the most interesting. I sat, probably evening, but who keeps track of time at eight to ten years old? The 38” tube TV playing Full House, my sisters favorite, when suddenly I moved closer to the screen. Or, did the TV move closer to me?
I couldn’t be entirely sure, all I knew was I could see everything in perfect detail as though the screen had wrapped itself about my eyes. I wasn’t sure what to think, but thought it was cool. Then my mom walked in front of me, breaking the immersion of the hallucination, and it went away. However, it did not take long before it happened again.
How cool was it that I could zoom in? Though, I did not know the reality of what was happening until later, which was my brain tripping over itself. I eventually found I could control this to some extent, with intense concentration and no distraction, I could ‘zoom’ in on things.
Although, despite having some control over it, this zoom effect would happen on its own and when it did, I felt queasy in my head. As though my brain could hurl all its collective information. It was and still can be one of the strangest sensations. Oddly enough, as this problem evolved, I had my brain do just that… But I’ll dive into that story a bit later in this write-up.
Locked Away in My Imagination
As things progressed, I began experiencing waking nightmares of some fairly bizarre things. The least of which would be my mom transforming into a giant, spiked and purple flesh-ball. Her body would rotate, but her face always remained, and she would scream and cackle at me. This was a pretty common hallucination too. Some might try to read into this and prescribe their psyche eval. But no need.
I had a very common, trusting and loving relationship with my mother and never saw her as anything shy of an angel, until my late teens. But I digress, that’s an entirely unrelated topic for a different time. My mom never stopped loving me and being there for me, so to say the least, I had zero reason for my brain to personify my mom in this manner.
Yet, there she would be, this monstrous ball threatening to roll me over. It is so vividly etched into my memory, I still recall the veiny details of the bulging variations of purple and dark-blues. How her eyes torn wide open, revealing the red tissue about them, with her mouth opening in gapes baring yellow teeth, gnashing at her tongue as she screeched and garbled out laughter.
When I tell my children that I truly know what it is to fear a lurking monster, for I have seen them with my eyes, that image of my mom pops into my head. Of course, I use it as a teaching tool, not to frighten them as I explain very clearly that these monsters were only in my imagination, just as theirs is. I only pray to God that they never have to endure seeing their monsters come to life before them.
Not all of my hallucinations were terrifying though, some were interesting, fun and even make for funny stories. Such as the little gnomes; these too were common place in my hallucinations. Little red and blue hats cleaning a room, or performing other tedious chores. They always smiled, greeted me kindly, talked with childish enthusiasm in an odd language. Looking back, the language felt dark, but at the time I didn’t consider it.
Though, this particular hallucination always ended with me rolling off a cold-stone slab. Such as this time I was on the couch against the living-room wall; one of those dark-stained oak with country-style cushion couches. You know the kind? With horses, cabins and fences that held nothing in, stitched into tan fabric. I was sitting there, bored, feet pressed into the carpet when these little colorful gnomes came in, greeted me, and wobbled about, doing their standard routine.
Later, probably within several minutes, I was on a cold slab quickly rising into the ceiling. When I rolled from the slab, several feet in the air, I landed on the carpet with my knees. What was most strange, is I awoke from this hallucination, mid-drop to my knees. It felt like I really fell from the ceiling, and come to think of it, my knees have had irregular problems since.
I had some pretty wild rides, even sitting on furniture as the room became a vast ocean, stretching for miles in every direction. That was probably most fun, feeling the faux ocean breeze against my skin and my hair pushed about by it. To smell the salty air, as the sound of crashing waves against the chair brought a sense of peace.
There were those that were so terrifying, I would do everything in my power to run. Just run. To get away, as fast and as hard as I could. Elbowing my parents out of the way, lying about why I looked panicked, and even pretending I wasn’t having an hallucinations so my dad would let me go. My parents always knew though, as my dad described a wild look in my eyes. He could see I was lost within another reality, and my eyes were wild with intense fear and confusion. Or perhaps they appeared wild because I was no longer consciously aware of my surroundings and he was seeing into my subconscious?
In particular there was this time, which will impart to you the portion of my hallucinations I most hate to bring up because I know what it sounds like. You see, I was hearing voices as another common hallucination. Though my hallucinations were often on multiple sensory levels, sometimes they could be on a single sensory level as well. In this common hallucination, I would hear voices, usually hundreds of distinct voices screaming and yelling violently. Often, the voices were incoherent, but when a coherency existed the words were always vicious and vile; full of cursing and evil intent.
In this short retelling, it was mid-summer afternoon. A cloudless sky donned a most perfect and serene country side in which I lived. I was in the living room, taking a break from playing, when suddenly these voices went off. They were faceless, but came from every place around me, and the turbulence of their raging stirred up such fear I tried to run.
My dad stopped me short of the glass door leading to the stone porch, and then outside. He asked me if everything was okay and I nodded, but he didn’t believe me and decided to have me sit on his lap. So I sat there, my uncles and dad conversing when I asked if I could get down. He said sure, and as soon as the glass door was parted enough for my body to fit through, I took off like a horse out the gate. Lucky for me, my dad was fit and fast and he was able to catch me just before entering the woods.
I don’t know how long I would have ran, and where I would have ended up. Giving that running was my thing as a kid, I could run almost endlessly without easily tiring.
Relearning the Basics
I want to fast forward a little bit here, to years later. As an adult, by the grace of a loving God, I overcame the mental psychosis plaguing me relentlessly. I worked hard toward a resolution that would allow me a normal life, and pushed my mental faculties to the point of exhaustion. It took a while to gain an edge over this affliction and eventually erect defenses so strong that the very large majority of attacks are shut down, even before I recognize it as a thing. Typically, I receive just a feeling that one was coming on.
Sometimes, they get further. I feel like something was just unplugged in my brain, a disconnect from reality. Suddenly objects and people around will no longer feel real (though I know they are, which is where gearing your mind toward logical deduction is very important). It will seem as though they are just avatars of a game, that people and things are as meaningless and intangible as a mindless video game.
Sometimes, it comes another way. I will feel a familiar sensation in my head, and/or will see everything as though it is liquid. The desk and chair of a hotel lobby might suddenly ebb and flow with the gentle waves reminiscent of a small lake. The floor will roll in peels of ripples, and walking becomes impossible.
However, in both examples, I can choose to let my mind handle it naturally and the hallucination will subside, and sometimes I can breathe and force them away. The result is the same both ways, one just requires more concentrated effort. This happens maybe a few times a year anymore.
Sometimes though, sometimes… the psychosis evolves in a way I am not prepared to combat. Such as the time my brain did hurl everything up in a single shot. I was deep asleep in an odd dream in whence I was four people simultaneously. It was actually rather incredible, to feel, think, and act as four distinct people who were living completely different lives. Or I should say, I was living four different lives, as I was these four people.
Then, one at a time, I became only three people, then two, then one and as my last body became numb and those thoughts faded I was suddenly faced with nothing but static on a screen. I felt my own thoughts begin to fade as well, as though I was losing myself, then the static flicked off, and I was looking into perpetual blackness.
When I awoke, I was empty. I didn’t know how to talk, where I was, who I was. Heck… I couldn’t even tell you that I was human. I don’t know how much time passed, I couldn’t think, couldn’t even purposefully form thoughts in my head, let alone speak them in my mind. I recall fear being the only thing I experienced, confusion came later as I had nothing to be confused over yet. But fear that something was terribly wrong, I just had no idea of what or anything.
First, I noticed my wife, I honestly couldn’t distinguish her from the blankets, aside from a feeling in my heart. Something there told me that this 'object' (I didn't know what she was from an intuitive perspective) beside me could help. I had to figure out how to reach her, which oddly enough, looking around with my eyes were natural. I had to learn however, to move my neck and head, which led me to my arm. Seeing my arm and acting on pure extinct I was able to make use this clear extension of myself to get my wife’s attention.
It took, what felt like a while, but finally my arm landed on her. My wife woke up, saw me and saw the look in my eyes. She ran to the bathroom, and grabbed wash clothes, doused in cold water. She began dabbing my head and neck in bed, and slowly I figured out how to move to the end of the bed. She spent about a half hour working me out of my stupor, constantly dabbing me down with fresh cold wash cloths.
I recall trying to communicate with my wife several times, but I didn’t even know what I was saying, let alone how to form the words. Thinking was still a hard-enough task. My wife’s retelling is funny, as she will tell me that it was like communicating with a baby. I was making noises akin to a baby at first, then half or slurred words. Eventually, I started speaking in broken sentences and with more practice I could talk. It took a bit to regain full memory, but I did quickly recognize my wife as just that toward the end of learning how to talk again.
All that does seem to indicate that there might be a link to stress. And while hindsight is 20/20, I only see where stress increased the likelihood of an episode by less than a third of the time. Like anything, unhealthy stress increases the difficulty of nearly any problem you may be facing. So I cannot say it’s the trigger with any certainty. But trusting in God helps keep my stress lower than it would otherwise be.
Remember to Hope
But, I will end with this tidbit. I hope you enjoyed the read and I want you to remember, that in this whole story the highlight is that I climbed out my pit. Sometimes I glimpse back into the pit, and sometimes the pit tries to reclaim me - but it never will. I want to instill hope in you, and you should be hopeful, that if someone like me, who was a kid at the time, can climb out of a pit such as this then you can too.
I had so much help from the God who breathed life into me, not only into my physical body but into my spirit as well. God gave us an incredible tool we often neglect, and yet, aside from God it is the most powerful thing in the universe. Our mind traverses time and space, it flips physics on its head and gave reason to develop theories in quantum physics. There is no other thing in which we can use to rewire our brain and alter our physical well-being into something more than what we were born with.
I am also so thankful for the parents God gave me. If not for them, I may have been lost a few times, trying to run into the wild. Likewise, without them, I may have been lost completely; doomed to constantly playthrough the fantasies of an abnormal reality.