Why I Won't Apologize for Experiencing Psychosis
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
I was walking home from visiting the store today to buy some milk. I tend to wander up the street in deep thought about my past episodes of psychosis. In my episodes, dissociation makes me lose memory, but afterwards, the memory will come back to me in clear imagery. The imagery I longed for when I was experiencing it. Not the memory coming back where it’s too late to change anything or take control of my mind.
Psychosis is a very complex and abnormal frame of mind where I experience a loss of reality. When I’m experiencing psychosis, I can have a complete character change and my thought patterns can go from rational to irrational. Depending on how heightened the episode is, my behaviors can become so erratic I may have hallucinations, delusions and catatonia. In my most recent episode, I experienced all three.
I was walking up the pavement towards my house when a certain memory from a previous episode surfaced. You were sitting on my bed while I was adamant you should stay with me the night. We weren’t seeing each other anymore, but I really just wanted to feel safe. I wanted someone to be brave for me because in that moment in time I couldn’t be brave. I needed someone to hold up my fort because in that afternoon my mind had gone from rational reality to a living nightmare. Its like I completely had stepped out of my head, looked back and said ‘I am just going for a wander, but I will be back once I deal with these black ghosts floating beside me’.
It took me a while to gather what had happened when I went wandering from my mind with these ghosts. You refused to speak to me, which I understand. You said boundaries were crossed, even though you reassured me if you ever saw my illness come to life, you could differentiate between who I am and what I struggle with. It still hurts to know after all this time and after trying to make amends, you never came forward and showed you did understand or wanted to understand. Or a more assertive approach, that you could forgive me for the experience I had.
For so long, I had racked my mind to figure out what I did that was wrong. To me, mental illness is just like every other illness. But I sometimes forget we live in a society that is not quite there yet. I thought with you having knowledge in the field and struggling with mental illness yourself, that I would have been approached lightly and with compassion after ending up in hospital from suicide attempt.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. I am lucky enough to have support around me from people who do understand. But I also have the few I put all my time and energy into, who as soon as I slip up mentally, leave me behind and don’t look over their shoulders, thinking they made the wrong choice in leaving me behind. It’s not even the leaving behind that gets us the most, it’s the abandonment in times of distress. Times when I need someone to be there the most. It isn’t relying on someone to fix my problems for me. It’s wanting someone to make me feel safe when I feel like my life is in danger.
I never asked you to be my fixer, support worker or anything of that nature. I never asked you to do much at all. I groveled at your feet for understanding, while you looked down on me and frowned because you think my mental illness episodes are “choices” I make.
My memory has come back and I refuse to apologize for hallucinating, being in a deluded state, running away from my house during my episode, crying in fits of despair because I was so scared, for saying goodbye because I believed I was about to lose my life that night and most importantly, I will never, ever apologize for being sick. I will be accountable and I will never blame you. I showed you I was accountable by seeking help and making sure I got back up on the tight rope after I lost balance time and time again. But I will never, ever say sorry to you for something I didn’t choose to experience and for having a debilitating mental illness.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via aroas.