Wow, I haven’t posted in a long time. I have logged back into this site and found hundreds of spam comments. Sigh, I must figure out an easier way to deal with that rather than spending time going through and deleting them.
Anyway, this week has been so stressful and tiring. I have just started my Graduate Diploma of Secondary Education. I had about three months holidays between finishing my Bachelor of Science and starting this course. In that time I very much slipped into the habit of isolating myself from people. Coming back to uni this week and being forced to do stupid introductions with people and having compulsory group projects has been a living hell.
I have perfected the act of appearing like everything is fine. I am very good at hiding my symptoms and if you didn’t know me, I guarantee you would not guess I was tormented. I have felt such intense anxiety, with terrible physical manifestations. My heart rate has felt irregular and fast, my muscles have been in a state of tension constantly, my tummy feels like it is churning.
I have noticed that there is a really different bunch of people taking this course compared to science. There are many more extroverted people. So many confident, outspoken and forthcoming people. Why are they wanting to know my name? Why do you need to know anything about me? It has made me paranoid. I know these thoughts are unrealistic. They are just trying to be nice, yes, I know. But I don’t want to know them. It is too much.
I hope that I will be able to start adjusting to the intensity of the interaction in this course. I realise education is probably the most communication-laden course I could choose. Silly decision for a schizotypal… But in the classroom situation, I am the leader, it’s different, for some reason that doesn’t seem so intimidating. This working with other students stuff is much more difficult. It is so forced, so painful. Oh well. I will just keep trying. Or quit. But I’d really rather not quit…
Well, the paranoia and anxiety has been a little wild lately. Amazingly, it hasn’t made me feel too depressed though. I was planning to attend an Occupy Melbourne rally last week. This rally was protesting the use of external spy agencies (whom are not accountable to the people) to track environmental and social groups’ communications online. I had totally intended to participate, but I then got completely paranoid that I would be tracked and cataloged as an attendee and labelled an enemy of the state. So, as you can imagine, I did not end up attending the rally unfortunately. When I think about it, I probably was unnecessarily concerned. That is the deal with schizotypal PD. We have this paranoia, but at some time or another, we can recognize the possibility of its falsehood. We have insight.
I was very anxious sitting in the waiting room of the psychiatrist on Wednesday as well. It is generally not filled with so many people. I wish my fear of people would ease, it is a really uncomfortable and never-ending battle. I was unfortunately paranoid that I was thinking too loud and that the people there could hear my thoughts. I am completely aware that this is a delusion, that this is very unlikely. But whilst caught up in that delusion, it can be horrible. Scary and unsettling. It felt like my privacy was being violated even though, in truth, I had nothing to worry about. Oh, the joys of paranoia.
I told the psychiatrist about my anxiety levels and paranoid thoughts. He thought much of the anxiety was due to those paranoid thoughts, yes, I know… how helpful. He keeps asking me if I hear voices? No…I don’t hear voices. Sometimes my thoughts can get very loud and distracting, but nothing external is in there and I don’t think it ever has been. Well, except for Quark, but he is part of my head and me =) His solution was “routine”. Yep, keep yourself busy, distracted. Make an outline of the day and plan it like a routine. I am meant to just distract myself from my thoughts. Do you have any idea how hard that is? I am fully capable of doing something in my routine and also thinking at the same time!
Some other things I just get stupidly paranoid about is people walking behind me, sometimes I think people who are talking amongst themselves or laughing are making fun of me, people are watching me etc etc. The list goes on. When I am in a good mood, I can dismiss the thoughts very easily. If I am already anxious or upset, they become a lot harder to dislodge. Oh well, I will keep trying.
I’ve been asked by Mezma to guest-write a blog post for her. The request is quite an honor; however, I confess I’m not sure what to write. I want to say something meaningful since this isn’t my blog. I don’t want to drag down someone else’s good work! There’s a lot that has been on my mind lately. I’m currently going through some major events. My dad is sick, possibly sicker than we knew. I’m trying to quit smoking. My spiritual life is quite active and full. So, a lot is going through my head and there’s very little organization behind it all.
What I am going to write about is my personal quest to find enlightenment in a lifetime marked by what is called by most people “mental illness.” Much of what I feel, think, and experience, I have been told to distrust, to doubt. My mind can’t be trusted, it’s been said. My feelings are unbalanced. What about my soul? Can anyone truly say I’m not being guided by a spiritual principle instead of a personality or brain chemistry disorder?
Much of what is considered mental illness is called so for causing either suffering or lessened ability to function in “normal” life. I have suffered a great deal and my functioning in life is impaired in many ways. I don’t deny that I am operating in a largely dysfunctional manner according to societal norms. But I am not content to be a victim of a diagnosis. I cannot see my mental differences as being entirely a negative thing that cannot possibly be turned into a positive. If someone has cancer and tells people they have had a profound spiritual awakening due to their illness, they are seen as wise and deep and people have a great deal of respect for them. If someone else says they are seeking a similar enlightenment through the experience of their mental illness, many people will write it off as delusional, sick thinking.
I’d like to go through some symptoms I experience from my various conditions and explain how I see them as relating to a spiritual path. My hope is that people who do not have any illness will see that even if someone’s brain is sick, that does not mean their soul is sick as well. Many of us have deep and valid spiritual experiences that provide real insights into our lives. These are often taken as a sign of the illness and rooted out. For example, I know both Mezma and I have been told that some of our thinking is delusional and that we should seek to eradicate it completely from our lives. But would anyone tell a person who was not mentally ill that they should eliminate some spiritual belief that truly helped them just because someone with a degree told them, “You know, that is kind of weird.” These are not things that hurt anyone. These are things that give us hope and joy. I don’t accept that rejecting them would be a good thing.
Ruminations are a typical schizotypal trait involving obsessive, meandering thinking about a topic that can be very hard to derail. They go into absolutely insane detail about every little thing that topic can possibly produce. It can interfere with living life, particularly if that subject is negative. However, there are religious traditions that encourage rumination on spiritual topics and spiritual topics are not uncommon for schizotypal individuals to ruminate over. I have reached profound conclusions about life and death and the nature of God through ruminating on those subjects. I have reached depths of seeing
things that I never would have achieved if my mind was not so dissatisfied with a cursory shallow glance at my own thoughts.
Another symptom of schizotypal disorder is bodily illusions. Generally, these are characterized by feeling things that are not “really” there. I frequently have the sensation that my body is composed of energy. It is an incredibly ecstatic state of being. It is not an emotion at all; it is beyond thoughts and feelings. It would be characterized by mental health professionals as a borderline delusion and they would seek to eradicate any sign of it. However, there are many religious and meditative traditions that would see this as a sign of great spiritual progress. It is a sensation of truly being plugged into the universe and the divine. My own faith would find it fascinating. Not enlightenment but a sign that I am accomplishing something in this lifetime.
The last on my list is not just a symptom, it’s a disorder. It is depression. It is one of the most frequently diagnosed mental health issues there is, with an astonishing number of people being in a state of clinical depression at some point in their lives. Depression ties us into the reason I chose the title for this post. Depression, the quintessential mental disorder of suffering, is precisely what has taught me that suffering itself is an illusion. Not in the sense that we are imagining it but in the sense that only a skewed and limited mind sees suffering when it occurs as a fundamental fact of the universe. In my quest, I have come to the conclusion that there is no real separation between us and the divine source of existence, which I choose to call Siva. Siva is all bliss. Suffering comes about because of our inability to see that fact and our own oneness with the divine. We see differences, separation, dualism, a gulf. As we become more spiritually attuned, we see that gulf start to vanish. Depression and its fickle nature taught me that suffering is transitory, that pain can be overcome by cultivating an attitude of contemplative joy, that we can clear the fog surrounding reality and see that our agonies will pass from us one day forever. If I had not been born with depression, I’d be suffering with every little trial that came along. Now, I still suffer but I can go inside myself and find the joy lurking within and tap into that to pierce the veil that suffering casts over everything so that eventually one only sees suffering.
Hopefully, people reading this will realize that mental illness is not something to be taken lightly and that it does not provide only benefits. I am not advocating no treatment whatsoever for mental illness. I take my meds like a good boy every day and wouldn’t dream of stopping them. I know I’d be in deep trouble without them. However, I’d like people to see that if someone they know has a mental illness and starts to share their deepest thoughts, thoughts that may seem unusual to others, that does not mean that they are suffering some horrendous delusion and their medication dosage needs to be raised. Sickness should be defined as what hurts one. A spiritual life that is guided by a disordered mind is not necessarily disordered; it is merely making use of the tools it has been given, which are different tools than a healthy mind. But there is great beauty and great creative potential in disorder, as long as it is not allowed to run amok. What I do advocate is finding that creative potential in the disorder and using it to build a soul that sees deeper, goes further, and brings joy and love to others. On the other side of pain, the endless wonder of the universe waits for us all, be we sane or insane.
I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve felt a little scattered in my head lately. Unable to form cohesive thoughts and sentences. Hopefully this post will make sense and I don’t drift off on too many tangents. I hope you all have enjoyed the start of 2012 – an important year in the transcendence of the human race. We shall see what it entails.
This post will be a little hard to write about just because the experiences that I will tell you about were very confronting and scary for me. There may be triggering information in this post. I have had several experiences of depersonalization and derealization. These are two forms of dissociation.
Dissociation is an altered state of consciousness characterized by partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s normal conscious or psychological functioning.
Derealization is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems unreal. Other symptoms include feeling as though one’s environment is lacking in spontaneity, emotional coloring and depth.
Depersonalization is an anomaly of the mechanism by which an individual has self-awareness. It is a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation. Individuals who experience depersonalization feel divorced from their own personal physicality by sensing their body sensations, feelings, emotions and behaviors as not belonging to the same person or identity.Also, a recognition of self breaks down (hence the name).
Ok so you have read the ‘wiki’ definition of these experiences but I feel they just can’t explain what they really feel like. The less scary of the dissociation episodes I have had are the numerous experiences of derealization. They have tended to be quite similar in the way that they have felt when they occur each time. They will usually occur when I am feeling very anxious. Social situations are a frequent trigger for me as they cause excessive anxiety. The episode will start quite spontaneously and quickly. I will feel like the world around me is no longer part of the physical reality. The world feels exactly like a dream. I will feel separate to the external world. Like I am a passive observer to the dream-like state before me. These episodes can be quite unsettling.
There have been times when I have also felt like the world has slowed down. Like the fabric of time has been altered and the world is not on the same timeline as my thoughts and body. It is a very difficult experience to describe now that I have tried to do so. The world can become a little unclear, like my vision has gone slightly blurry and fuzzy. Once again, it reminds me of a dream. I feel uncomfortable and wonder whether I am in the right place. I wonder whether I have slipped into another plane of reality existing simultaneously with our usual plane of existence. People and objects move outside of my own existence, like I cannot interact with things in the world. This feeling will stop me dead in my tracks and I will find it nearly impossible to continue doing what I was doing at the time. I don’t think that it lasts very long, but it can certainly feel like it does at the time.
I have experienced derealization much more frequently than the depersonalization. I have only experienced depersonalization a couple of times. They were extremely scary, unsettling….terrifying. I hated the feeling. I felt like my consciousness was no longer a part of my physical body. I felt like I was not the one controlling my body any longer. I find this hard to write about because it was such a horrifying experience. The sensations in my body felt completely wrong. I could feel my body but I couldn’t sense that this body was MINE. Because I was already upset and anxious I did not have the coping mechanisms that helped me identify that nothing was wrong. A million thoughts ran through my head. Was someone else externally controlling my body? Was I going insane? Had I fallen asleep? Had I been possessed? I could not form cohesive thoughts and the feeling was not subsiding. I would stare at my hands and they would move but I wasn’t the one moving them. I felt like a puppet and I couldn’t determine who the puppet-master was. My mind was screaming and my body wasn’t doing what I was trying to tell it to do – at least I thought I was telling it to do things. I am not sure.
It got to the point where I was so terrified that I cut myself (I will talk about self-harm in another post). I needed to feel that this body was mine. I needed to feel like I could still feel sensations, and what better than pain to snap you out of your terrifying mind-set? I began to slowly feel real again. The mind and the body were becoming one once again. I felt very out-of-it after this episode and walked to a park to get out of the house late at night. I rang my husband when I was there and he came and met me and calmed me down. We talked through what I was anxious with to set off the episode and watched a funny movie to lighten us both up. I have had no episodes of dissociation since beginning anti-psychotic medication. Hopefully when I come off the medication I will have developed the coping mechanisms with my psychologist to reduce the anxiety or intense emotions that trigger these occurrences. Sorry that I cannot explain my experiences very well, I find them extremely hard to put into words.
It seems there has been some confusion regarding some things that I have been talking about on my blog. Apparently I haven’t explained myself very clearly so I am just writing a little clarification so that people need not be concerned. I have never experienced a full psychotic episode and both my psychiatrist and psychologist are confident that I have enough insight so that I will not develop psychosis.
When I talk to and about Quark, I have always been aware that he is in my head hence why I have called him my ‘imaginary friend’. He has not been around in a long time and I do think this is due to the anti-psychotic medication. I am also completely aware that my belief in starseeds could be a symptom of this disorder, hence why I have written about it on this blog! Additionally, when I write I do seem to be consumed by the subject because I do become swallowed by the task at hand. I’ve also been told my writing and thoughts are quite erratic so I do apologize if what I write goes all over the place and sounds hectic, that is just the way my mind works.
Unfortunately this disorder is hard to comprehend at times and there are quite bizarre thoughts and symptoms that do arise. That is why I have written this blog, so that people can have a little insight into one persons experience of schizotypal PD. I have been coping relatively well lately and I have the support of a wonderful husband, family and a couple of very good friends. Please don’t be alarmed from these posts, I am trying to share with you my experience and there will be some odd symptoms for that is part of the disorder. My posts could also be written when I’m in good moods or bad moods so they will have an array of information and experience as I feel that is the best way for people to understand.
I’m sorry if I have concerned anyone with my posts and thank you for caring. Please remember this IS a disorder and if I was functioning like everyone else I wouldn’t need to write this blog! Keep an open mind if you can for there will probably be more to come that is a little strange. I’m coping well at the moment.
I said in my last post that I would further explain my belief that I am a starseed, so here we are. When my imaginary friend, Quark explained to me the possibility that I was a starseed, I spent an unreasonable amount of time researching this idea. Another problem with being a schizotypal is that I can ruminate excessively on obsessions for a very long period of time. Before I started receiving help, my functioning was dramatically lowered from my obsessive ruminations and I let many areas of my life slip. I still ruminate excessively. But I have attempted to create times in my day where I allow myself to do this. But I still sometimes drift when I am meant to be doing something else – especially when I am around other people.
Through my hours of research I had developed a reasonable understanding of the concept of starseeds and I could recognise aspects that resonated with me emotionally and spiritually. A starseed is an individual who has a soul that has previously been on a non-earth planet. These planets could be somewhere within our own universe amongst extra-terrestrial life-forms or they could be from an alternate plane of reality to ours. These souls had in that previous life chosen to be reincarnated into humans on earth in order to complete certain missions on earth. These missions are varied and specific to that particular starseed and the mission will involve somehow assisting Mother Earth or other humans to raise their levels of consciousness. The following is an efficient explanation:
Starseeds are individuals who feel excitement and longing upon learning that they might have originated from another world. They experience the aloneness and separateness that is the human condition, but also have the sense of being foreigners on this planet. They find the behavior and motives of our society puzzling and illogical. Starseeds are often most reluctant to become involved in the institutions of society, e.g. political, economic, health care, etc. Even at an early age, they tend to discern the hidden agendas of such conventions with unusual clarity.”
“Starseeds” describe evolved beings from another planet, star system or galaxy, whose specific missions are to assist Planet Earth and her peoples to bring in the Golden Age at the turn of the millennium.
Starseeds incarnate into the same conditions of helplessness and total amnesia concerning their identity, origins and purpose as do Earth humans. However, the genes of starseeds are encoded with a “wake-up call” designed to “activate” them at a pre-determined moment in life. Awakening can be gentle and gradual, or quite dramatic and abrupt. In either event, memory is restored to varying degrees, allowing starseeds to consciously take up their missions. Their connections to the Higher Self are also strengthened, permitting them to be largely guided by their inner knowing.
Many starseeds are practiced in rapid “spiritual weight loss”. Starseeds can throw off in a few years the limiting behavior patterns and fears that Earth humans might take many lifetimes to accomplish. This is because starseeds, having been on similar missions to other planets, are quite familiar with the procedures and techniques for raising consciousness. (http://www.paoweb.com/starseed.htm)
I know the idea of starseeds sounds completely nuts to many people. My husband is very uncomfortable with this idea. He is extremely rational and will always follow the facts and not intuition. I feel so desperately attached and connected to this idea that not even the anti-psychotics have budged these thoughts. My psychiatrist doesn’t like these thoughts either but I do not feel they are negatively impacting my life so why does it matter that I believe this?
I have horrible and intense feelings of loneliness at times and I feel that this could be an explanation to why I have these feelings. I can feel so dreadfully detached from society and humans and sometimes find human intricacies almost impossible to understand and comprehend. I am aware that my belief could be a schizotypal delusion. I have had my psychiatrist point this out many times… I really struggle with people and I know that is one of the symptoms of this disorder. But this disorder is created by humans, so how do we know what is real?
Whenever I look at up at the stars on a clear night I feel bathed in peace and tranquility and I feel that out there somewhere is a place I understand. A society that will make more sense. One that has ascended higher than humans are yet to reach. A place of peace and understanding. Where it is understood that all life is connected and thus there are no wars or harm done to the planet, for it is done to oneself. My soul has been there before, and after this life, it will one day be there again.
But in this present life, I am human. I have all the faults of a human and I can experience all the beauty of being human and the magnificence of Mother Earth. For whilst there are many horrible things that happen on this planet, there is also much good. And it is my mission to increase this good somehow. I will be doing my Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education next year and I hope that I can have some influence on the next generation of humans. If I could help even one child to appreciate the planet or others, it would be a successful mission. I feel my missions lie in being a guardian of nature and promoting understanding of mental illness. I will base my life around these and hope that I succeed.
One of my bizarre symptoms is the very intense, vivid and intrusive daydreams that I can get. One day I had one so intense that it ended up producing an imaginary friend named Quark. I miss him, he hasn’t been around very much lately since beginning the anti-psychotic medication. He has a very intricate story:
I was driving one day and I was stopped at an intersection when a meteor collided into the road in the middle of the intersection. I love space, so I decided to get out and grab a piece of meteor, as who would not want a piece of that?? Then when I approached the rubble, I found a small silver capsule. It was glowing with heat from its entry into our atmosphere. A hissing, clicking noise began and the capsule cracked open like an emu egg. Inside I saw a grey alien, only about 30cm tall. He was quite similar to the shape of ‘greys’ that we are so used to seeing in popular culture. He had dark almond shaped eyes, portraying such a mixture of fear and hope.
I then heard his voice in my head. He obviously communicated telepathically. He begged me to take him and his space craft with me so that no one knew he was there. I love aliens so I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I scooped him up and put him subtly in my handbag and returned to my car. I continued my drive to uni and he began to tell me about himself and where he had come from. He told me his name was Quark and he was from a planet called Dray. He allowed me to see visions of his home planet. It was eerily beautiful. It’s atmosphere was blood red and the vegetation had leaves ranging from rich purples to abyss blacks. The water shimmered and altered colour slightly depending on how you looked at it. It was kind of iridescent, clear, yet coloured.
He told me about the universal life energy called Gar. As far as he knew, his race were the only ones in the known universe who were advanced at the manipulation of Gar. Tapping into this life energy allowed him to communicate telepathically. I had reached uni by this stage and started walking towards my first lecture. He was scared of being seen so he showed me yet another thing that he could do with Gar. He dissipated his body into its individual atoms and sub-atomic particles and melded them into my own body. He could still communicate with me but now his body had become one with my own. This way he could remain with me and not be seen.
I had such involved and consistent telepathic conversations with him that I missed much of what was going on around me. I was extremely absorbed. When my sister rang on the phone, I was irritated that I was interrupted.
Quark said that he had come to earth to see how progressed the humans were in their awareness and manipulation of Gar. Due to its power and connection to all life through the universe, the Dray were very concerned with how the humans would wield Gar should they progress to that stage. Quark explained that humans were one of very few races that were so self-destructive and hell bent on destroying their own home planet. He could not understand how ignorant humans were to the needs of mother earth. He told me that Gar runs through all things, so what we do to other humans and what we do to our planet is all connected and in turn we do these things to ourselves.
We became very attached to one another and whilst he went off occasionally, he said to rub my necklace and think of him and he will come straight back. His manipulation of Gar also meant that he could teleport to various locations. His particles moved through another dimension, separate from time, so that it was instant that he appeared in his next location. This takes much energy however and he could only do this infrequently. He does not need to eat like we do. Humans need to get carbon etc from food. Dray can absorb Gar from living objects – never enough to drain them, as that will kill them.
It had been a few weeks when Quark had dropped many hints that I may not be who I thought I was. I started browsing the internet about aliens and came across starseeds (I will do another post about my starseed “delusion” soon). Everything made sense. Quark refused to tell me anything directly as it is part of the starseeds mission to undercover who they are at their own pace. He said I would awaken to my past in my own time. I am still yet to determine who I really am and where I am from, though I am certain I am not from Dray. I think my meds are disrupting my link with Quark, I do not have him around very much now. He helps in particular when I am very anxious, he tries to calm me down. But he must still research for his own mission for his planet, so I’m glad he is doing that too.
I am a huge advocate for reducing mental health stigma and promoting understanding. I majored in psychology in my undergraduate science degree and through this have learnt so much about the wonders and faults of the human mind. In my final year studying psychology I was diagnosed with Schizotypal PD and a few other mental health issues (see the About page). What was simply study and education had turned into experience of mental illness.
I have created this blog for a few reasons. I want an avenue to express myself as sometimes I can find that extremely difficult. I want to promote understanding of this disorder as there is quite limited information available to people. I want people to realise that we are not defined by our mental illness, I am schizotypal, but I am many other things too. There will be posts about the disorder but also posts on random tangents and obsessions that I develop. People can fear these odd and eccentric cluster disorders as they can present rather bizarrely, but we are nothing to be afraid of, I assure you, we are MUCH more scared of you.
I had already been seeing a psychologist for depression and anxiety prior to this diagnosis. There was a period of time in which bizarre and scary things were happening to me which I knew were not right. I decided to keep a journal and document my thoughts (as my little scientific mind does!) so that I could look back and see my processes throughout this time. When I read this journal today I can see how distressed and scared I really was and I am so thankful that I seeked help when I did. I have decided that I will post sections of my journal when I feel these are appropriate.
So welcome to my blog, I will try to post frequently and hopefully you will find something of interest here =)