I am pretty sure you have wondered before, “What a mad person is thinking while sleeping on the streets naked, dancing when there’s no music or even talking to himself.” We see crazy people on our streets in Ghana everyday but what we don’t know is how they interpret their environment.
In doing my mental illness series and writing my novel, “Boy Behind the door” somebody sent me an email telling me how it felt like to be insane. He hardly tells anybody about being crazy or hospitalized for mental illness because of the stigma so finding someone who’s empathetic enough to understand him, meant everything. We’re friends now and I am super excited about it. This was his story,
“I went mad once. I even was institutionalized and put under antipsychotics. I was conscious of it, at first, I guess it was because I’m introverted. I noticed my mind was working awkwardly, logical actions started to seem illogical. Thinks like Why am I stuck in this line when I could just walk over that table and get to the door?. Another symptom was that the stress was gone, things that normally worried me wouldn’t cause me anxiety. I felt so light, so good, so confident, full of energy (and I haven’t been sleeping well lately), and colors looked brighter. I’m a pretty shy person, but in that time I could talk to anyone of anything without feeling uncomfortable. I was concerned about this changes, so I told my parents that I believed I was going crazy. They told me that there was no way that I was crazy, because crazy people don’t know they are crazy. They told me that my extraversion was a sign of maturity.
Days passed and the symptoms worsened, I stopped sleeping because I found it unnecessary, and not only I kept questioning normality, but also I started questioning reality. If reality is just stimuli interpreted by my brain, then does objetivity actually exists? what is the difference between a dream and reality if both are dependent on the brain? what if reality is just like a non-lucid dream, what if it just had turned lucid, and now I’m able to control it? Maybe that is what people call awakening, maybe that is what people call enlightening, they got it all wrong!. And I googled it, and people talked about life being a dream, and it reinforced my theory.
And then I became a god.
Reality is a dream, and I’m the dreamer. What is outside the dream? Nothing. What is the sense of life? why did I create this? Why is there suffering in the world? Because I was bored. There is no good or wrong, it is just a game for my enjoyment. A simulation to learn about myself, the only one. I’ve created this setting, I’ve divided myself into different points of view, and I’ve made me forget everything to made it more interesting, to see how much time does it takes me to get the pieces together, and to see how my pieces interact. And then what? Then I start again, thanks to my ability to forget, I can play this forever.. While all this thoughts assaulted me I would continue with my rutine, I was quite distracted as you can imagine. Some friends thought I was high (I don’t do drugs).
From time to time, reality would feel real again, I would feel small, with no control over it. I would feel confident, because I knew the truth, I knew that nothing mattered. But then I remember a dream could become a nightmare, and a new concern assaulted me. My own fear could manifest as something bad, and I become scared of being scared. I would feel like I was in a horror movie, pretty much like the dark side of Silent Hill. I would feel a presence, and I would feel alone and helpless. And then I would swich back to the “normal” or god state.
Finally, four days after I told my family that I was crazy, they believed me, but I didn’t belive I was crazy anymore. They found out something was wrong because I skipped a class and went for a walk instead of taking the bus. And then I kind of explained them that nothing wrong could have happened because I controlled everything. We went to a clinic, I wasn’t scared, I thought it would be funny that I would win because I was right and everyone were ignorants. I would just play the game. I received like three different diagnoses, I think they were wrong because they were assuming a cronic condition when there was one occurence. I mean, one of the diagnoses was bipolar and I didn’t even had the second pole.
The meds didn’t make me stop believing life was a dream, but I stopped feeling powerfull. I only learnt to tell the doctors what they wanted to hear. Then my family noticed I was getting bad (no because of madness, but because of medication, they were overdosing me and I had a lot of secondary effects). They seeked for a different opinion and I got another diagnosis: psychotic break due to sleep deprivation(as I mentioned earlier I was sleeping badly, the week before everything happened I spent the nights online and sleept only 2 or 3 hours and then nothing at all). I went home, got some pills to sleep, I slowly dropped the anti-psychotic dose, and I never had another problem again.
It was hard to stop believing the things that made me feel awesome, but I had to do it. I’ve become a bit obsessive about not skipping sleep time, and I still have nightmares from time to time, sometimes I have lucid dreams and I freak out, because I fear I’m not dreaming and it is me going crazy. But appart from that I’m fine. The doctor said that if I didn’t had another episode within two years of dropping the meds then it wasn’t chronic (schizophrenia is chronic), it had been 4 years and I’m sane 🙂
The experiences of becoming insane is different for everyone, because every madness is different. But I think they all have in common getting obsessed on one single idea that redefines everything.
TLDR; You may feel a bit different at first, but then you stop questioning what is happening, you get obsessed and then you are crazy.
So that was his story. But onething I always say is that we are all very crazy in our own ways. May not be exactly like his, but we all are in our own ways. Check out this post