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Why Didn’t I See This Psychotic Episode Coming?

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I knew my disorder like the back of my hand… until I didn’t.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) came around the corner the way it did, I had started to go downhill with my mental health. I lost my job, and that added to everything. The race relations going on in the country are vital, yet so dismembering to my psyche. I really thought that by the month after the protesting had started, I was on my way back to feeling how I was pre-COVID-19. By that, I mean feeling good, feeling fine and stable. Stable is the word I’m looking for here. What happened next was a total miscalculation on my part, thinking I was fine.

My 15-year-old cat, who I’ve had since she was 5 months old, recently became ill. The exact time of day I realized that is when this all began. I probably spent three to four hours crying over the fact that she may pass away. My mom picked her up the next day to take her to a very specific vet that knew my cat well. This vet is a good hour and a half away from me.

You know, I’ve worked in mental health. I write about mental health. I have a few diagnoses under my belt, with schizophrenia being one of them, but this threw me through another loop I didn’t see coming. I became ill, once again, and it wasn’t very manageable this time. It started with me crying and being upset over my cat’s health. I remember taking some holy water that night, that my catholic mother gave me, and putting it on my cat’s head. Now, in the past, my delusions have been religious and governmental related. I should’ve seen it then, but I didn’t.

I spent the next two consecutive nights awake. I paced all of the first night in a dark room, while my fiancé slept, out of worry and anxiety. Within a couple of hours, I started looking out the window, thinking maybe someone was breaking into my car. This was a fear based on a real, similar event that happened a year ago. My soothing action has always been rubbing my arms, the back of my neck, my hands, or some other repetitive movement on my body to calm myself down. I have even rocked back and forth sometimes, it’s actually very helpful and soothing. I can’t exactly pinpoint when I lost insight into my symptoms, but I can say it was a pretty quick transition. It was something, in this case, that didn’t particularly get away from me, but rather I needed a higher dose of medication. I started to develop the delusion that my fiancé was planning to do away with me. Something simple as him trimming his mustache that day had me to where I did not recognize him. I completely thought that, maybe, this was someone else in his body. I was cautious and skittish around him that day he trimmed his mustache. I told him that later on, but not at the moment, for both our sakes.

This was a three-day-long episode. I ended up talking to my doctor and going on a bit of a higher dose of my antipsychotic. I started to wonder, afterward, where did I go wrong? How did I lose insight? I write about mental health, I’ve worked in mental health; how could I not see this coming? That’s the funny thing about insight. It reminds me of the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” when John Nash says he can “will” himself out of the delusions. The doctor says, “Your mind is where the problem is in the first place.” That’s what makes insight so interesting. You have insight until you don’t.

Photo by Jorge Salvador on Unsplash

Originally published: July 22, 2020
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