Cigarettes and Smoking Spells

They are teaching me how to smoke — not just light up and inhale like the neighbor kid taught me — but to use a cigarette as a magical tool. Smoking is a sacred act, a secret act. I am being taught how to smoke so that I can share the knowledge, not to become a smoker as an end in itself.

There aren’t just the smokers, there are categories: there’s the smoking smokers, those who smoke people with their magic cigarettes. There’s the non-smoking smokers, those who smoke people by other means. The non-smoking non-smokers are the most peaceful, or conversely, those who have smoked so many they are no longer allowed to smoke. I fall into the final category: the smoking non-smoker, for I am learning how to smoke, so my cigarette is nothing more than tobacco and filter. A benign habit.

The smoker will always smoke on the left side when smoking someone. I hold the cigarette away from the body to keep the effects as far away from me as possible. Every action while smoking can take on meaning, but there are some universals.

Throw it down, crush it, I want no part of this.

Toss it out the window and let the life burn to its natural conclusion.

One crush…

Two crush, three crush, four. Each has significance. Since I am learning still, I put out the ash instead. Poke. poke. poke. poke those cinders away. I am not ready to crush my opponents, my foes, my enemies. I’m not allowed to smoke them until I’ve matured, until I’ve become a magician myself.

 

Delusions Versus Voices: A Quick Distinction

I’ve had two delusional episodes since my initial break in 2008. Though I haven’t fallen into deep psychosis since my first break at the age of 37, these delusional episodes are completely disruptive of my life. These episodes are different and distinct from my “new” average daily life of hearing voices.

The voices themselves don’t bother me, whereas the story lines of delusion do. The voices I can disregard through diverting my attention, concentrating on anything from music to reading or surfing the internet. Conversely, delusions are invasive, pervasive. Listening to the voices alone is interesting and I think it is exactly because I can tune in and tune out. Like listening to an overheard conversation in a cafe, someone may be saying something funny or obnoxious, and not knowing what you will hear is a part of the interest.

Delusions are no more predictable than voices, but for each person there is often on on-going theme. For some it is religious, as in institutionalized religion. For others voices are spiritual in nature — ghosts or angels, spirits or demons talking. The altered senses may be  extraordinary perceptions for others. The story line of my delusions centers around magic, magical beings and disembodied persons who speak through me.

Delusions are separate and distinct from the hallucinated voices. Webster and the DSM would have us believe that delusions are “a belief in that which is not real”. I would say they are more akin to a personal experience so extraordinary and intimate it is doubtful anyone else could relate (except, perhaps, in fictionalized narrative story form). I’ve come to believe anyone would have my same reaction to what I hear and feel during my delusional cycles. It’s in the hearing 24/7 that makes you believe it is real. You simply cannot escape.

My anxiety level reaches top notches when I am delusional, based again on what I hear: the world of magic seemingly rests upon my shoulders, it is a fight between chaos and order (not good and evil, per se) and only my day-to-day actions and habits can help those disembodied souls and spirits who accompany me. Twice now I’ve had this experience since my diagnosis in 2008, with the same results: I become enveloped in an impenetrable, mysterious world and not much in this reality matters. Luckily I’ve managed to keep my job though these episodes.

This is not my personality — being some extraordinary savior — before psychosis set in. That’s delusion. I have to laugh because it all sounds so absurd when I far away from in, grounded in common reality. When “in flight” it is such a disparate reality, that I try to reconcile in my mind because it is at complete odds with my reality. “How can this be true?” See, it feels so real.

Are my extraordinary perceptions real? They sure feel that way when I am in the thick of it. Should I make changes in my life based on what I hear? What can I do to make a difference in my life, make a difference for these lost souls?  I think these are questions every schizophrenic must deal with, and since the delusions never stop for most, our behaviors become erratic and disconnected from any thread of consistency, making us seem, well, mad.

The voices I tend to believe the beings behind them are real, while I don’t take their words too seriously. For delusions, it is the opposite: I don’t take their personalities too seriously, but their stories are deadly real to me. At least until the meds kick in again. To me it seems there must be different mechanisms for delusion and auditory hallucinations and I can see why outside observers can’t distinguish between the two. It’s even too hard to describe from the inside out.

In essence, I can choose what I believe to think about the audibles, but for delusions, when I am in that space, there is no choice: I believe and I am encompassed.

Choosing to Run

Choosing to run is not as simple as it seems. I can run in fear, or I can pick up my running shoes and one is more effective than the other in eluding the spirits in pursuit: the running woman on the trail is not the woman running in fear. I can hide myself under the guise of a new personality from the forces that haunt me.alsorunning

Hitting the trails would seemingly be more effective than running the streets in my car or sitting at home, equipped with endless amounts of coffee and cigarettes, neither of which form a potion effective enough to ward off the spells continuously cast upon me.

Motion forms its own potent potion and transforming myself into that which I am not currently is more protective and empowering than my same old routine of insane diatribes about smoking a connection between allies and smoking foes. In this world, these magical beings prefer I be smoking hawt, powerful, and strong than the fearful, cowering person I’ve become.

And here is sit in my smoke-filled room, wondeirng how I can muster the strength to try a new approach to tackling my problems and teasing out a new definition of what it means to be me.

See, the problem is that I can change, by definition, who I am and what I do, but the rub is that by becoming a new person, I open myself up to being smoked again, because the spirits won’t recognize me as being the same person who had been smoked previously.

Running the Streets in Fear

I am settled at home again after weeks of running the streets in fear. This time is not quite as bad as last, but it is still impossible to hear the things I am hearing and to feel safe and secure at the same time. I’ve spent a lot of time in my car, driving to and from my family’s house an hour away. I feel better being around humans than being alone.

My delusions — those that scare me — are filled with threats of harm. I have finally defeated the prowlers by winning a battle of wits with questions and answers, which earns me the right to hang them. Then they disappear. These people who threaten me, these ghosts, are real people who form a fabric of magicians and sorcerers across the continent, working together or alone, to gain power by stealing magical beings from otherwise ordinary people.

The magical beings are spirits who fight a battle I cannot seem to win alone. It is the spirits who interject on my behalf as I lay helplessly listening to the conversations through my window as choruses of voices call back and forth to one another in battle between the predatory and the protective.

The battle that comes at night  is only part of my day. I sit for hours on end talking to them, the people, these spirits as I try to understand their world. In this world there are real humans whose spirits have somehow joined with my spiritual form so I can hear them. These are not thought insertions — or the perceived thoughts inserted into my own mind — these are full conversations with persons I believe exist in the world out there, some where, making it all the more frightening. Will they find me? Will they help or harm me?

Layer upon layer, these characters – the people, the predatory, and the protective — form a cacophony of noise that drowns out reality. Submersed and alone, I wonder how I can defeat these forces that want to consume my mind, if not my soul.

I am Learning to Feel

A bout of delusion has left me feeling tired, exhausted from all the hallucinated stimulation. I feel spiritually, as well as mentally, tattered and torn. I feel shredded from the intense, overpowering things I hear and perceive. The fear takes the greatest toll on me.2152830075_5f4724b22e

I have missed an inordinate amount of time at work because I don’t want to sit in my cube talking to myself. I fear either being laughed at or making others uncomfortable with my weird behavior. I don’t want to damage other people’s perception of me as being anything other than a normal person, a good worker. I lie to my boss about my circumstances, claiming a family problem instead of a problem within myself.

A great sense of loss and grief overwhelm my sense of having lost myself. Those parts of me I used to know before late onset schizophrenia and psychosis changed who I am and how I live my life. Loneliness sets in as I feel separated not only from my emotions, but close friends because I simply cannot convey with appropriate emotion how I feel and all that I am perceiving.

There is a great sense of shame associated with not being able to control my thoughts and actions. There is great stigma associated with behavior that lies outside of the norm. People notice me talking to myself, I am certain, but I hope they perceive me as benign and see my circumstances with compassion instead of judgement befitting only of ridicule.

Singing Bowl and the Mouth That Won’t Stop

It has been six months since I’ve written anything meaningful here. Delusion, setting in four weeks ago. has come this time as a flapping mouth. I keep chattering and chattering, on and on and on. It is not simply words or rambling —  I am having entire conversations with myself. The characters, in my mind, are real people talking through me. I don’t hear them except through my own voice (which is to say these are not auditory hallucinations that I parrot, but actual conversations that feel channeled). I can only tell them apart, these people invading my mind, through the flow of conversation.

In addition to what they call “Singing Bowl” I am still having auditory hallucinations: Spirits talk to me through the window, converse from the fridge, and chat as cars pass. The topics this time are again as they were: Magic, Smoking (in all it’s glorious definitions), and death. Though the delusions are not as psychotically-induced as last time — I am not as separated from reality — they escalate. Spirits and the people I am channeling threaten my sanity, my life, my afterlife — quite literally.

It’s maddening and I wish it would stop.