There’s something strange that occurs in highly stigmatized identities: the shame of being that identity and the shame of wanting to be identified as that identity. As someone with a degree of sustained insight, it was difficult to explain how my life was being run by a bunch of lies. Lies that would make me too scared to shower alone or to shower with the shower curtain closed. Lies that convinced me that I was actively pursued by entities that I couldn’t fully comprehend. And lies that convinced me that my own wife’s miscarriage was part of a curse and that it was all my fault.
Psychiatrists became dismissive when they saw that I did not fit their cookie-cutter description of a diagnosis. “That’s totally normal,” they were deadpan, despite my anxious demeanor, “everyone experiences those kinds of things.” True, everyone gets spooked by shadows… but I felt as though this was different. I was and am too afraid to bring it up to a psychiatrist for fear of being lambasted for my insight that I was too afraid to go home to shadows that patrolled my apartment. I was convinced something was happening, I just needed someone to believe me, to listen.
By fighting for an identity I never really wanted, I came across a paradox. I was stuck. I felt like I was fighting so hard for attention rather than getting support. I got very weak and tired from running away from psychosis yet being pulled towards it that it’s wearing me down. And I can only imagine how this must feel for someone who has to fight this on a daily basis: with doctor’s monitoring, family members judging, society portraying stigma…
I am convinced that all of this was my fault; whether through society, the medical community or my own self-esteem. Maybe I’m here, with 4 televisions on, yelling in the hallway so I can scare off the shadows because I made myself this way for attention. At this point, I don’t want to seek out assistance or services because of the question they will inevitably ask: “how can I help you?” and I will have to admit that I truly believe that something is wrong that I am experiencing psychosis.
I just want to reveal something that haunts me deeply, something I try so hard to suppress, and just get some sort of support and acknowledgment. This idea of dismissing people’s experiences in hopes of that helping them feeling better somehow is erroneous and needs to be exchanged for a better tactic: just listening.
Photo Credit:unsplash-logoMitchell Hollander