I had my first lucid realization of just how convoluted and contorted I had become a few months back. I had been sitting on my bed, probably the safest and most secure place that exists for me.
The long, opaque, rich, velvet purple drapes were drawn over the sheers and their butterflies. The trees in front of my house afforded another layer of privacy, and even had I stripped the windows of everything, they faced only into the very innocuous cul-de-sac I had lived on for more than two decades.
I can honestly say I like very much all of my neighbors; some have lived here longer than I have, others have only moved in within the last decade, but most of them I know well and feel comfortable enough with that were I in the throes of an acute psychiatric emergency, and really in need of help, I know I could go running to their doorsteps, despite the fact that they have no knowledge as to why I am my age and living still with my parents, why for years I didn’t leave the house very often, why for months I left only with one of my parents driving me. . . You get the picture. These neighbors may wonder, but they are all extremely kind souls whom I would trust with my life.
That day. . . I really don’t remember any specifics of what I was doing or why I had to get up or what the plan had been.
What I do remember is this. I was getting up to go to the bathroom and shower, but in my depression, my radical, all-encompassing, consuming depression, things didn’t go quite as planned. I slid my feet to the floor next to my bed, but instead of standing up, I let the rest of my body pool onto a blanket that had fallen there. I was so tired, weary in every cell in my body, weary in my mind, weary in my spirit, and a little rest was in order before I dragged myself to the bathroom and under the unrelenting spray of the hot water.
This is when it happened. The minute I settled to the floor, I relaxed, I let out a breath I hadn’t the slightest idea I had been holding. Between me and the windows now stood my bed and a bookcase, two sturdy, totally solid objects – a nice little wall that blocked even more entirely any view from the outside. And I finally felt safe from the eyes of the world.
It didn’t take more than a second or two of sinking into the floor when the full magnitude of what had just occurred came to the forefront of my mind.
‘What the – I just – why in hell – there is something incredibly not right going on in my head.’
Allow me to translate that a bit. I realized that the involuntary sense of calm that washed over me as I finally found myself a place to hide completely was not normal. Even for me, it was an utterly foreign experience. Because in order for that peace and safety and, ultimately, relaxation to hit me in that moment, in those circumstances, it meant that I must have been scared as hell, in a more subtle and deeply ingrained way than I had ever realized.
I’d known that there was something deeply amiss in my fears and beliefs about people, the world at large, and my personal thoughts and reactions to all of it for some time. I spoke at length to my good friend Em months before, trying to suss out whether what I had been experiencing was just a healthy (if unusual) mistrust, or something more. She told me she thought I had a ‘paranoid personality’; more aware and concerned and distrustful of the world at large than most. I guarded myself and my secrets rigidly, always questioned motives, and never took anything at face value. Unusual, but just part of who I was. No reason for alarm.
I couldn’t communicate to her then the changes that had begun more than a year prior. I couldn’t communicate to her how much more this was, how deeply in the thrall of this monster in my mind I in fact was, because I didn’t know.
It wasn’t until that morning, cocooned on my floor, months later, that something snapped into place in my brain and I started to understand how severely and seriously delusional I had become.
That was it, that was the moment when I began to look at how incredibly distorted my mind had become. It wasn’t only paranoia and delusions, there was more. There was much, much more.
But that was the moment that changed everything for me. That was the beginning of the end, though I didn’t know it at the time.
That was when I started to take myself back.
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