The Mental Health Repercussions of Living in 'Another Dimension'
If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
I’m staying with the theme of Mental Health Month! Today I wanted to touch base on a topic that I didn’t have to do much research on. My mind has been very fuzzy lately and I haven’t been able to concentrate at all so research wasn’t in the cards for me. My topic this week is, “Repercussions of Living in Another Dimension.” The reason why is because being in my last relationship was like being in an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
I just can hear Rod Sterling giving the introduction to my episode. “Imagine a world where you thought everything was perfect. Where the stars seemed to line up just right. Then you wake up to realize that the world was never real. You wonder what happened while you were in your trance and have this feeling of delusion and confusion after coming to. You’re searching and searching for answers when you realize it all seemed to be in another dimension. A dimension called ‘The Twilight Zone.’”
Wasn’t that clever? I came up with that all by myself. Obviously the intros of the actual show are way better, but I think you get the point I’m trying to make. My ex-boyfriend made me feel like everything was perfect and when it was all suddenly taken away from me I was left questioning my own reality. I have heard that this is called “gaslighting.”
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that’s seen in abusive relationships. It’s the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them. A victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their own sanity. I never questioned my sanity, but I feel for those who have been pushed this far. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
The term “gaslighting” comes from a play and movie called “Gaslight.” In the movie, the husband manipulates and torments his wife to convince her she’s going mad. Gaslighting, whether intentional or not, is a form of manipulation. Gaslighting can happen in many types of relationships, including those with bosses, friends, and parents. While looking back on the past few years of my life, I have realized that I have been “gaslighted” a few different times by a few different people. I don’t want to get into all the different times this has happened to me so today I am only focusing on my abusive relationship.
The abuse I endured, as I have briefly mentioned before, started after our dating relationship was over. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Taylor you are still the only girl I have been with since we broke up.” LIES. Then he just kept lying and lying to me about everything he did or where he was. When I would catch him in his lies he would call me psychotic. After a while I truly believed that I was psychotic because he convinced me that he was always telling the truth when I would catch him in a lie.
For so long I believed his lies. Since he always told huge lies, I wasn’t sure if anything he ever said was true. Keeping me unsteady and off-kilter was his goal. I believed what he said about me. He knew that if he questioned my sanity, that I would start to question it too. His ex-girlfriend used to tell me a lot of stuff about him and he would always tell me she was lying about him and called her a “cancerous bitch” (which is not true by the way. She’s a lovely person). By him telling me that she was a liar, it again made me question my reality and I ended up believing him for so long. This manipulation technique made me turn to him for the “correct” information—which wasn’t correct information at all.These are just some of the disgusting things he would say/do to me.
You’re probably wondering when “The Twilight Zone” reference is going to come into play again. As described by Rod Serling in Season 1’s monologue: “It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge.” So technically I wasn’t in the twilight zone and it doesn’t really exist, but I just think it was the best way to describe my gaslighting experience. It’s an unusual situation or mental state between reality and fantasy. If someone tells another that they are “in the Twilight Zone,” it means they think the person is speaking/thinking irrationally or whimsically.
The aftermath of this gaslighting experience was terrible. It took me forever to realize what was true and what was not. Over the span of many months, everything finally started to line up. I realized that I was manipulated into believing he could do no wrong and that I was crazy. After realizing all his actions were to make me question my sense of reality, I had this heavy feeling in my stomach and my head felt fuzzy, just like it has for the past week. I felt delusional. I felt like my life wasn’t real. I have experienced a lot of confusion, sadness, and rage because of being manipulated. It took me such a long time to realize what was going on and start taking back control of my life because if I didn’t who knows where I would be right now.
“Call it ‘parallel planes’ or just ‘insanity’. Whatever it is, you’ll find it in the Twilight Zone.” That is part of the ending narration of an episode titled “Mirror Image.” In my opinion, I think it kind of sums up how I felt being in my “relationship.” I’m happy that I was finally able to realize what was happening to me and get out of the bad situation. Many people aren’t that fortunate. My advice to anyone who may read this and think their situation is similar is, know the signs and be stronger than him (or her). Manipulation is a tricky thing but when we can figure out what’s happening before it gets out of hand, we can save ourselves from hurt and save our sanity from being questioned.
A version of this story originally appeared on midwestdepressed.com.
Photo submitted by contributor.