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Psychosis: The Aftermath

“It is not heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality.”

You know they never tell you how hard life can actually be. They explain bits and pieces as you grow up but they never elaborate on the details of what you may or may not encounter. Everyone is told that they can be anything they want to be, you are pushed to do your best and you walk through life with this ringing in your ears that life is your oyster. Until that fateful night when you feel pain, witness injustice and embrace tragedy.  All that I could be, stopped for me. I was diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Type 1 Bipolar Disorder (the worst kind) and with that came limits. Limits to what I could do, who I could be and the loss of control that I so desperately seeked. I’ve seen despair and all the triumphs that life enfolds but I have also seen the most beautiful moments that this world has to offer. I am compelled to dive into my depression or rise instantaneously into mania but there are moments that remain a memory. Moments that exist before the mania fully takes hold.  In that moment, I sense the uplifting joy, I recognize the enfolding happiness and suck in the wonders that this world offers.

I know that I’m happy, I know that the smells and sounds are intensified and that life is embracing me back. The music is liberating, the breathe of fresh air is intoxicating and the laughter around me is contagious.  I am conditioned to ask myself, what is the cause of my happiness? I am programmed to sense the beginning symptoms of mania but at this very moment I don’t care. This is the only moment that I am grateful to be like the average person. This is the moment that I can see clearly and enjoy my surroundings despite the realization of whats in-store. Theres a sense of peace and genuine happiness that not even I knew was possible. A weight that has been lifted as the stress of life’s struggles have been forgotten. Suddenly nothing seems impossible.

What a relief.

I drive with the windows down and the AC on, music blasting with all genres thats manifest strength and joy. I take in deep breathes that have never been sweeter. I take a passing glance at myself in the rear view mirror and see the beautiful, smart and ambitious woman I have become. I allow myself to suffocate in this moment; as this moment is always brief. This moment will evolve into full fledge mania. I am only hours, minutes or seconds away from losing full control of my emotions and in essence my mind. Eventually everything will intensify and become an overload of sounds, feelings and thoughts. Soon I will blast the music at an ear bruising rate, I will inhale cigarette after cigarette with no resistance and down red bulls as if they were water as I feel every emotion with an intensity thats unexplainable. The rapid thoughts that list the to do’s for today, tomorrow and next month. The feelings of happiness, insecurity and uncertainty mix itself within and I am simply a bucket of confusion.

In this moment though I try to slow down, I try to embrace the feelings that reinforce my present joy. I do not prepare for the storm; I simply bask in the ambience of simple pleasantries. Even the loneliness can be replaced with endurance, the insecurities can be replaced with self esteem and the anger can be replaced with pure humility. In this moment, I try to save myself. I wish I could always feel this way. I dream for a life where this feeling is the norm. I grasp at the feeling and watch it slowly slip away. I have lost control…..

The darkness protects you in a sense so that you are completely unaware. Some where inside of you, there are previews.Seconds really, where you can see from the passenger side. I’m frightened and I have no control but thats not what scares me. Its the way I feel, its the voices I hear and the delusional thoughts that I have accepted as fact. A day of severe grandiose behavior, unconventional spending and unlimited drinking mixed with a week of no medication have taken its toll.  I cant remember and what I do remember stops me in my tracks. The feeling of being untouchable, the words I scream out of unwarranted hatred. Somehow I’m barricaded in my room, theres bread, theres laughter and there are voices that say I am not safe. Yeah Bread, no clue why. Maybe that was my meal until help arrived. I couldn’t tell ya.

I awaken the next morning exhausted and confused. Where is everyone? Bruises and cuts on my face. Tons of calls that I have no recollection of. The last thing I remember was sitting with my husband and having a drink. I wasn’t drunk. I was sure of it. The next morning I am faced with the damage that I’ve caused, damage that I don’t remember and seems unreal. As I drive straight to my psychiatrist for help, I cry. My face is swollen from the tears. The shame and guilt have over taken me. I’m afraid. Can you believe it. I’m afraid of myself.

Im catatonic, there are no words or expressions. There is only silence. I faintly hear words such as psychosis, nervous breakdown and delusions/hallucinations. Its my first episode and its common with my diagnosis. Im prescribed stronger meds, spoken to about the next steps, reassured, followed by her warm embrace. I opt out of psychiatric care, I have to work. I call my mother and she tells me all the things I said the night before. She tells me she understands. She tippy toes her words in fear of causing me more distress. I get it because I’m doing the same. I try not to think, I try not to stress and I let go. I don’t want to fall again. I don’t remember but some how I survived. In that darkness, you are no longer you. I’ve read about it and it was something that happened to other people. Until it happened to me.

They never told me that my grandmother had many psychotic breakdowns, they never warned me that my mother had extreme OCD and mania. They never truly explained the seriousness of my fathers alcohol and drug addiction. No one ever assumed that I would inherit it all. So I sit here, wanting to embrace life but afraid of myself and whats to come. Holding on to my sanity for dear life. I pray that I never lose it again because I have lost a piece of myself. A piece that I don’t think I can ever regain. I can never be certain of my actions. I will never be confident in my emotions. I will forever questions my thoughts in fear that I should break. There is no cure. So how many more pieces do I have to lose before the Natasha I have come to know and love is no longer me?

Cause in this world, anything can hurt you and it can push you and then desert you. I cant let this steal my history. I still look the same as I stare at my reflection. I look the same but I’m not. I just cant stop living, afraid of what I will see and who I will be.

I just need to remember me.

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