Coming to Terms with Reality

Diagnosis in and of itself does not mean that you are out of the woods. It’s just a label that you have now to put a name to the things you’ve been experiencing.

This can be freeing though, because it also means that other people have gone through the same thing and you’re not alone and never will be.

Those first few weeks/months after diagnosis though, may well be some of the hardest that you have to go through in this new, different, life.

In this period you’re forced to accept that you’re crazy. You’re forced to come to terms with what this means about you and the world and even reality.

For the first few months after my diagnosis I still experienced an overwhelming amount of delusions, paranoia and connections that made it incredibly difficult to know what was real and what was not. I knew that a portion of my conception of the world was skewed and incorrect but where was the line?

Discovering the nuances and the edges of my delusions and paranoia wouldn’t come for years, and even now 16 years down the line, I’m still not entirely sure of everything.

Figuring out what was reality and what was a function of my illness essentially required a kind of reboot. I had to step back, and force myself to look at things objectively. It required me to forget, or push back associations I had made in the years leading up to my diagnosis about how things are, how people are and what my place in the grand scheme was.

I learned though, and was relieved to discover that reality, and my position, as one small human amongst seven billion, who has chores and responsibilities, was far less exciting than I had been imagining it as.

When you think you’re a prophet you feel a kind of power, and perhaps I needed that power to survive and push on in the midst of my illness. Then you’re diagnosed though, and all of the sudden you’re nothing but some dude who has a broken brain, and nothing else. That transition was earth shattering for me.

In addition to this revelation, you are now on a heavy course of medication, and while deemed safe, the new side effects can really mess you up. For a good two months, my body wouldn’t let me relax, it had to be moving at all times or I felt like I was going to die. That’s called akathisia and they don’t tell you about that one very often. It’s either something like that, or you gain 50 lbs. in six months for no reason.

Suffice it to say that this transition period into living comfortably with your illness is one of the hardest times someone with mental illness will go through and support is a necessity.

What’s my point? Well, if you or someone you love is in the midst of this transition be kind to them or be kind to yourself. Take it easy, take it slow, everything’s gonna be ok, I promise you that.

You will get through this.

Recovery is a process and coming to terms with your illness is going to take a while, so patience and work is necessary.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, and you will get there if you hold on.

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