Why I Saw My First Psychiatrist, Part Two

The following entry was written for a series I am publishing at RealMental.org. The first two parts were published on November 8th and 22nd, 2007.

(...continued from "Why I Saw My First Psychiatrist, Part One")

I left off in Part One of this story with my arrival at my boyfriend's house after hallucinations of dead bodies slumped over the steering wheels of cars on my way home from a friend's house. At the time, I lied to him about why I was out of breath, and I feel that I should backtrack in order to explain why I did so.

Although such full-blown hallucinations as the bodies in the cars were new to me, the sudden excessive paranoia and scattered thoughts were not. When I sat down on my boyfriend's couch after fleeing my nightmare of a walk home, the only thing I could think about was when I was in grades ten and eleven in high school. During those two years, I went through greater and lesser phases of paranoia that involved, at times, keeping my back to walls at all times when alone so as not to be sneaked up on, checking the houseplants for video cameras and microphones, worrying that I was being drugged through my food, hearing distant music coming through the hot-air vents at home, believing that I was waiting for a sign to take my position as the new prophet, assuming that all men were rapists in waiting, and on and on. There were periods during which I was less fearful, but for the most part, I believed that I was under surveillance at all times, and I learned to keep my anxiety to myself accordingly. I would not allow a suspicious look or word out into the public eye lest They find out what I knew: I knew that They were watching, and They knew that I was direct threat to their hegemony.

I hated being fifteen. It was far more complicated than I had bargained for.

Aside from my parents asking me if I wanted to "see someone" once and an English teacher sending me to the guidance counselor over a dark piece of poetry, I managed to keep my behaviour well enough in check to remain unnoticed, and then, with no real effort on my part and for no apparent reason, the cloud of erratic thinking began to ease up. I was no longer a future prophet, They receded into a muddy memory of fanciful thinking, and the houseplants were no longer blinds for spy technology. And yet, the reversion to my old self terrified me.

What was I now without what I had believed I was becoming? Prior to my delusions, I had always lived with depression, and that is where I found myself again. I wanted neither state. Knowing how to behave as a functioning person had saved me from what I saw as unnecessary intervention at the time, and my plan was to continue that way, even though I was deeply unhappy. I wanted no one to know where I had been, because if it came back, and I had been correct, my secret still needed to be kept. As difficult as it had been to suffer so much paranoia and anxiety, I still harboured a desire for it. The possibility of the assurance of my own universal importance was intoxicating.

And then, the next four or five years passed without much incident. I graduated from high school and I moved out on my own. I was unable to hold down a job due to depression and anxiety, but I passed that off as simply being ill-suited to customer service. I was well relative to how things had been, and I wanted to believe that I could remain that way. I saw myself as having dominion over my own mind. I would overcome, and that was that. And then, slowly and quietly, I began to slip away from myself again.

This time, though, I no longer believed that I was a burgeoning prophet or that I was being continually surveilled. The world I grew in my mind to inhabit this time was a wasteland. There were dead bodies in cars. It snowed softly all through long June evenings and nights, as though the weather did not know its own mind, either. My tastebuds went numb, but my ability to perceive colour skyrocketed. I liked to sit well back from riverside paths as a lonely, forgotten thing in the trees and watch the passersby. I had one foot in reality and the other in a place that was never quite there, and I was frightened by my secrets.

So I did not tell my boyfriend when the paranoia returned with such suddenness. I did not want to be told that I was wrong. I did not want to be locked up in an institution for seeing and thinking differently. As scary as it was to have my world shifting out of range, I wanted it to be real. If it was not real, I was lost, and if I was lost, I had nowhere to go. The other me was interminably sad. In the end, I was too scared to be able to keep up the ruse of normalcy as I had before. I knew how far my fear could go.

That June or July, I made an appointment with my doctor so that I could get a referral to a psychiatrist. Part of me worried that They might be real, that I was basically turning myself in to Them. Another part of me knew that the snow I saw falling and settling on spring's new leaves was seen only by me. I simply wanted to stop, get off somewhere soft, and sleep.

Some time later, I found myself seated in an office building watching impossibly large, six-inch aphids grazing along Dr. Ragu's hanging plants while I tried to decipher english through his thick, East Indian accent. He asked if they were green, and I said Of course they are. Finally, I felt I had an ally.

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50x365 #63: Vern R.

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