February 01, 2007

Thoughts on Delusions, Fundamentalists and My Present Day Activities

I have regularly been able to defuse the hallucinations of the little people -- by telling myself they are my brain talking and by saying to myself: You don't need to listen to what they order you to do, in fact it is ridiculous for you to do so! This does not stop them from talking, but it devalues them, it puts them in their proper place, as voices that come from me, from some errant spark in my brain that makes my mind seem like it talks to me. Where these hallucinated characters come from is anyone's guess, but then though we "get" some of it, we don't know why we dream certain weird dreams either. I suspect the two come from the same place in the unconscious.

Be that as it may, the delusions, especially the paranoia, are ten times harder to evaluate, much less defuse. In fact, I'm speaking as if I understand it now, when in fact I do not...I only suspect I know what others might tell me, though in fact I don't doubt for a second that they would be wrong! But in any event, I almost always feel that people I know secretly wish me less than well, that no matter how well they treat me, that they SECRETLY are undermining me, or secretly hate and are conspiring against me, and talk about me behind my back saying nasty things, gossiping, telling others bad things so that upon meeting me they immediately take to disliking me, though of course they too don't show it openly, only feel it secretly...And on and on it goes. This is a constant and CHRONIC state of affairs and I feel it as much from Lynnie and Dr O'Malley and even from Joe as I do from Karen and from almost everyone I meet or know. Oh, everyone asks me, Do you feel that way about ME? And I assure them I don't. Because what else can I say? I can't tell them at that moment that No, I think you hate me, secretly...Because they would deny it left, right and silly, and seek to defend themselves and otherwise prove their case. And the point is not that they don't have points to make so much as they cannot prove a negative: they can't prove that they DON'T secretly conspire against me, don't secretly hate me. And it gets tiresome to listen to them, when I know this, and know they are frantically defending what they cannot. So I just reassure them and let them rest content that they are at least the single exception to the rule...There may be exceptions, I dunno, but everyone at one point or another gets swept into the conspiracy...

And I do not know how to tell when this is NOT true. I feel so certain of it, that I do not know when to know that my certainty itself is delusional, or when to challenge it. I don't even know when to challenge that concept of secrecy, because it feels so, well, certain that this time, this time, I am finally right to "know" it is happening. So I get mired a great deal more in what others MIGHT call delusions or paranoia that I don't know about...still don't, except by inference. I can suspect what they might dub a delusion by the word "secretly" but I don't FEEL doubtful of the truth of it; I still feel CERTAIN that I am right, and no less worried or scared or suspicious. So suspecting how others might evaluate the situation doesn't actually help me at all, because, as Dr O keeps saying, "The feeling is primary." So, frankly, I dunno what to do about it. I don't know how to take any next step to actually changing how I feel, if it is even possible.

Now onto my next subject, fundamentalist religion. Two days ago, S wrote me another letter which I quote in part here (edited for my purposes): How ironic that the greatest thinkers and the "religions" grounded in peaceful coexistence with nature and letting go of control and being one w/ the universe - passive resistance, and living well together -- are the very religions we are at war with. We are being programmed to believe they are the "evil doers" and anything non-Christian is allied with the very people who are allied with a terrorist society. We have redefined jihad to be factions of terrorists acting against us in order to be killed in holy suicide as holy sacrifices to Allah. When in reality a Jihad is a holy mission and not a holy war. It is something that is special and meaningful that can be attending school and completing it to gain a professional degree to be able to provide for the family as the first born. It is an honorable life journey ventured forth in the name of Allah. We are certainly redefining Islam for our own means to make our war sound purposeful and the People of Islam sound more horrific -all of them.

This was my response: I disagree with you about the religion thing. I think that we judge a certain brand of Christianity by what it is today, by George Bush’s kind of born again religiosity etc and the rest of hidebound fundamentalist Christianity. And I think it only fair to judge fundamentalist Islam by the same standards, by what it has become in the modern world, which is none too peaceful or egalitarian (its original mandate from the Qur'an) or one with the universe. I know what jihad means -- sometimes nothing more than an extremely dedicated effort -- but all too often it is in fact invoked in the context of killing as many non-muslims as possible. Now, don’t get me wrong: I cannot abide fundamentalist Christians for a single second. I think they are self-righteous, greedy, selfish, narrow-minded bigots and often just plain bad people who have the temerity to call themselves “good” (i.e. GWB) and think that makes it the truth.

But I don’t think Islamic fundamentalism treats anyone any better ANYWHERE. I don’t see Saudi Arabia being a communal egalitarian mecca (no pun intended) under Wahabism (sp?); I don’t see the green birds of Paradise descending into the Ayatollah’s Iran; I don’t see any of the middle east countries being a haven for other religions, including the Jews, and a place of equality and well-being for women (both of which are dictated by the Qur'an); I don’t even see particularly good treatment by their husbands for Muslim women in America! So as far as I’m concerned, BOTH religions have been co-opted by the fundamentalist men, NOT the (muslim) women, who must simply submit, and neither religion is pure and uncorrupted anymore, and neither religion is worth a fig at the moment, because either one could destroy the species, were the climate and our damage to that not set to do so already.

My present day activities: I have been rushing about doing way too much and not getting much reading or writing done at all. I am exhausted, even though I still spend a lot of time home alone, for all my rushing around. When I have an appointment or date to do something out of the house every day of the week, that is too busy for me, and if, as in this week, that has sometimes meant 2 things in one day, well, I dunno how I can get through another day. Yesterday I had my appointment with Dr O, which meant a drive of one hour to get there...then she didn't show up, had forgotten to tell me she'd be away -- which meant an hours drive home for nothing. Then Karen insistied on coming up to talk. Then the evening nurse came. THEN i had to go out for my first adult ed class in years. I couldn't find the high school in town, never having been there and in the dark no less. Finally I found it, and the room, and actually got in the door because someone was showing me how to find the room who was in the class so I had someone to go in with! What a stroke of luck...The class was fine. It was a class in Central American Jewelry making, taught by a Mayan man from Guatemala. We have already made two bracelets and will learn to make earrings next week. But so far the designs have been very simple and I want to learn something difficult! Something that takes skill, not just bead stringing on wire. Nevertheless, I can tell he is a great teacher as he had us make a bracelet first by simply stringing beads, so it was wearable first thing, then we did one that was more complicated that involved bending wires over wires and beads, and that was much more difficult. So I trust that we will be doing difficult things quite soon. I'm pretty impatient, I think. After all, it was just the very first class and many people do not have the nimble fingers I do, nor the craft experience.

Today I went to C and L's to work on their computer and help L with her e-mail as usual and visit and have lunch with them. I brought over Yurtle the Turtle which I was lending to them to display and keep in their house, because L collects turtles and I thought she would especially like to have it under her roof. I'm still trying to sell or display it and the llama publically though. I have two people in the know looking for me, so I have hopes for finding someone or somewhere that is interested. Tonight Karen is coming up at 5pm and Joe at 6pm to watch a movie. Then maybe I'll have some time to read and write...I hope. Tomorrow is another busy day that I dread, and I can't even cut it short.

So that's my daily life recently. I have more to say about the central thoughts, about Islam and Christianity, but that will have to wait till I have more time. Karen is due any minute so I'd better quit while I'm ahead and post this.

Posted by pamwagg at February 1, 2007 04:02 PM


Hello Pam,

Above all, the question is: can you function? Does the paranoia disable you? You were able to attend an adult education class. Cheers!

Though I don't hear voices, I've always been hard on myself, and beat myself up for imagined shortcomings. "You didn't do this, you 'should've' done that, why did you do that, what will other people think, you 'shouldn't' have done that, other people will hate you, you're no good."

And the beat goes on. So I relate to what you feel. How can we align our self-doubts and flawed perceptions with the true reality of what's going on? This is the most difficult thorn.

I found I alleviated this stress by going out and meeting new people, so I felt better about myself. I understood that I wasn't an evil person. "Slowly, slowly" I changed my mind about myself. Today I feel I am a good person.

You are well on your way. You have the cognitive ability to know all's not well, unlike people who have anosognosia and believe their thoughts are accurate. Recognizing the problem is the best first step in conquering what goes on.

I'd say you could do the things which bolster your self-esteem, but mostly develop techniques to deal with the thoughts. You are already fighting back, and that is good. Maybe you can do something I did: play a kind of "20 questions," or write down "20 statements," on paper, to analyze why things really aren't happening the way you think they are. My written-down explanations went something like this: "You are a good person. You have a lot to offer the world. If someone didn't like you, you have no control over that. You can't change people's behavior. You have no control over what people think of you. They have the right to their perception of the world."

Now, those statements related directly to what I was going through in my head. Yours could be different. I found that when I wrote them down, and re-read them, I began to feel better, and I started to feel that I wasn't the evil person I thought I was. I also "reality tested" by talking about my fears with someone close to me, who confirmed I wasn't evil. Because I trusted him, I knew that my perceptions about myself were flawed.

Pam, I hope this helps. You are a beautiful soul. Cheers!


Posted by: Christina B. at February 2, 2007 03:49 PM

Dear Pam,

It seems as if you're on the borderline between reality and delusion and that's where delusions love to sit. I've been deluded and paranoid too and I know how convincing the delusions can be to oneself despite all kinds of evidence to the contrary. Paranoia is particularly insidious. I lived with it for the first three or four years of my illness. I thought every time I went out someone was following me (members of a fanatic cult) and then I thought I was telepathically connected to a serial killer and he was following me and wanted to torture me before he killed me. Sometimes I couldn't stay in my house and would stay overnight at my brother's house. Anyway, I was a true believer for a while in my delusions and paranoia. My therapist did not try to talk me out of it, she listened and took my suffering seriously.

How did I ever break loose? It started just after my last psychotic break. One day I asked the voices if it was okay to stop believing in my primary delusions. I was just so broken and tired by then and in some weird way I needed my sickness' permission to stop believing in the lies. One voice responded saying something like "Oh God yes!" Somehow I was ready to let it go and to focus on taking care of myself. That was hard to do because although the delusions and paranoia were fading my depression was increasing and I had to wait it out till I got the right combination of drugs.
But I did and though delusions reoccur every now and then, they have none of the power they used to have and with a little push I have been able to dispel them soon after they arise.

I know the Little People keep you company and entertain you, that kind of delusion is okay. You still have a say in how you interact with it. But paranoid delusions about those closest to you hurt both you and those who are trying to love you and are truly worth fighting against. My paranoia was egged on by my voices. Do you have voices other than the Little People's voices? These other voices are the culprits. They water the seeds of contention.

Posted by: Kate K. at February 2, 2007 01:11 AM

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