Hi there. I am a schizophrenic woman of 30 who believes she is possessed by demons. This is not a fictional story. I am 100% genuinely positive that I have dozens of demons residing in my body who make my life all kinds of interesting, and since over the years I haven’t seen a great deal of accounts from people who deal with anything similar I thought I would share some of my story.
So, where to start… my life is a strange mixture of doing things that make me feel as stress free as possible, while trying not to feel terrible. The internet is a terrible place for trying to be stress free. From flame wars to stone faced silence the internet is fuel for me questioning my every statement, or my every piece of art. Silence from people crushes me. Whether it is in person, or on the computer. When people go silent they are actually speaking much louder to me than if they were to criticise. Silence means that my every fear could be true at any moment. More than anything, on forums I always have the sense that everyone is friends with each other and could actually be talking about how generally ridiculous I am as I try so very hard to be accepted, while still staying true to what I believe in. Some of the thoughts I have are: wow, she tries way too hard; no one is that nice in real life, she must be full of shit; she is obviously an attention seeker; I am going to try really hard to make her feel like she wants to die because I know she is mentally ill and weak people amuse me; she’s a liar, I don’t believe she is mentally ill because she’s so normal on here).
Trying to fit in is something I have struggled with. It’s not so much that I change myself for other people, it’s that I get this idea in my head that if I am honest, there will be other people like me who will appreciate that someone different speaks up about different opinions, rather than fitting in with the general consensus. Many times I have been honest about my mental state, or my previous relationship with an in the closet Christian woman, and it was very naïve of me because people will go out of their way to both ridicule you and actively try to make you feel suicidal.
Speaking of suicidal, I have a bit of that in here too. It all but ceased not long after I met my husband. In the previous relationship there was an extreme lack of security, but Mr SallyDoesArts is like a rock. A bear-like, anxious, occasionally depressed rock of awesomeness.
Most of my suicidal issues seem to revolve around abandonment, and feeling such a great deal of emotional pain that it seems ridiculous live in such a way. Who abandoned me you might ask? In my mind, God did. As a child, some things happened to me that were so beyond the scope of what a child should have to deal with that it is nigh on impossible not to be angry with someone who is supposed to be all powerful and loving. The concept of my ‘mental illness’ is that I let demons take over many parts of my person as a coping mechanism, to deal with said stress.
I can tell you about a symptom that is happening right now, and has been for several days. I have been battling to stop my eyes from constantly blinking. I was joking to my sister earlier today that I must be doing it because I am an attention whore. My sister is good like that, very open to joking about this sort of stuff. I actually really enjoy talking about how crazy I am with people. Sharing is fun, and you never know what someone else’s life experiences might be like; whether they’ll be similar to yours.
Back to what I was saying earlier, my belief about the eye blinking being so unruly is that because I gave up a certain amount of my ‘free will’ as a child, I have a great deal of difficulty controlling certain behaviours and thought patterns now. It’s an interesting concept, no? In my mind it is all perfectly logical. The worst part of the eye blinking is that I find it difficult (exhausting is another word) to do any activity that involves consistent concentration, or large amounts of imagery.
My life is a constant pattern of waking up to realise ‘oh, it’s going to be one of those kinds of days’ or ‘this is new’. Sometimes I wake up and for an hour it is like I am still stuck in the dream I was having. I remember one time a few years ago I had a dream about a house that had a foot of water flowing through it. Sure enough, for a large amount of the following morning I kept looking out the window to see if there was water there. There was not, strangely. It’s almost like a hypnotic state, now that I think about it.
Dissociation is another problem I have. It’s pretty low grade on the scale of things but sometimes (usually when I am not in my house) I sort of drift out of reality and it is as though I am watching myself from inside my brain while my body does things that I desperately hope don’t turn out to be weird or unnatural at any moment. A lot of the time it happens when I am conversing with people. It’s sort of like, your mind wandering to think about other things, but a bit more of a pain in the ass because you’ve dissociated to the point that you aren’t really sure of where you are.
My understanding of dissociation is that it is brought about by extreme stress. United States of Tara is a good example. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, previously known as multiple personality disorder) is usually caused by long term abuse in childhood, and the person develops the ‘alters’ (other personalities) to cope.
I remember when they first started to diagnose me they didn’t know what to do with me. I didn’t tell them about the demons, because I was absolutely obsessed with being believed and telling other people about the demons previously had not gone well. It wasn’t until I accepted the fact that they would never believe me, and that it would be much easier to get paid a disability pension, if I was just straight forward about everything I believe. I hid the demon thing for so long, it absolutely crushed me at the time.
But then of course, I came out with it, they diagnosed me with schizophrenia (I generally call myself a ‘schizo’ or a ‘nutter’for informations sake) and it stopped being so difficult to get the support I needed. But at the same time, it was slightly complicated because schizophrenia is generally accepted to involve voices and beings in the outside world, rather than inside someone’s mind and body, like I believe it to be. I think a lot my psychiatrists have found me to be a bit of an oddity because of that.
The diagnosis happened a while after I flunked out of an adult education course twice, which was preceded by my flunking out of University twice. Both of these courses were in visual art, but I couldn’t get my head together, even though it was something I enjoyed doing. I remember when I was at the adult education centre I was ‘commanded’ by the demons to leave the room immediately and go home. So I did. I had no choice. They literally moved my body out of the room. I felt like the biggest loser, not being able to control myself. That is pretty much how I have failed at doing anything productive.
The first year of University was alright in terms of control issues, but it was the beginning of a rapid downward spiral. My emotions were getting so out of control that when I went back to do my second year I spent most of my time sitting in a church, praying that my uncontrollable anger, sadness, and incoherent thought patterns would be relieved. I would literally pretend I was going to school, and spend 8 hours sitting in one of two churches, stopping only for a lunch break or to swap to the other church so as not to seem like I was doing anything odd. I remember there was a gentleman at one of the churches, a monk type, who had seen me coming in over and over again, so he asked me why I was coming in. I don’t know the reason I gave him, but I guess it was something like ‘just thinking’. Funny. I suppose it would have been true, in a way.
One day when I was sitting on one of the main pews (pew pew) a man of about 25 with scruffy hair came up to me and said ‘there’s a better feeling in there’ while pointing to a much more isolated part of the church. So I moved there, and while I believed him at the time (such is the power of being the suggestible type) now I feel like he was just some prick messing with the silly Christian.
That feeling business is a funny one. For a long time I just referred to it as ‘pain in my chest’, or ‘that hot feeling at the back of my head’ or ‘that weird, uncomfortable feeling in my stomach’. A psychiatric nurse later said that a lot of those feelings are forms of anxiety, in my case a lot of them revolve around ‘social anxiety’. I feel great sometimes, I love being around people. I like to think that my perfect job would involve meeting lots of people, and helping them somehow. I don’t know how that would ever work with the problems I have leaving the house, but we all fantasize don’t we?
Anyway, my social anxiety makes me feel like I am going to be awkward or inappropriate at any moment, against my will. Usually when I feel this way, I am worried that I am going to have some outward, physical expression that immediately indicates how crazy I am. For example, uncontrollable twitching. It is strange, I am like two people at times; them and me. There is all the stuff they try to get me to do, and there is all of the stuff I actually want to do. I think that is what makes my mind so combative, I am constantly trying to fight them off.
They talk through me sometimes. Not very often, mainly when I mentally check out due to stress. I wish I didn’t do that, I wish I could just cope like a normal person. I said ‘they’ talk through me, rather I think it is only one that talks through my own mouth. He is the ‘head of the pack’ if you will. He will say things as simple as ‘Sally’s not here’ to the much more violent ‘I will rip your fucking face off!’ What a strange character I am, nice as pie but with a white hot anger that these days only seems to come out when electronics or video games piss me off.
I seem to have a lot more issues when Mr Sally is overseas. It gives me too much time to think about things that have happened, are happening or will happen in the future. He told me the other day that he wishes he could be around when SUPERCRAZYSALLY is more prominent. The reason he said this is because I had told him that I’d spent the previous day singing love songs with all my heart, and shouting all the negative lines at God, who I apparently was not a fan of at the time. There was much dancing as well, and I very rarely dance. Just bein’ a crazy, Sally style.
I take great pride in having a sense of humour about mental illness. I understand that some people take it very seriously, which is fine for them, but life… life is just so stupefyingly ridiculous at times that it is hard not to laugh. I mean… who thinks that they have otherworldly beings living inside of them? Really, it takes a special kind of clever to believe such a thing. Don’t leave the house for weeks on end due to a fear of social awkwardness, a general distrust of the populace or twitching face issues? Yeah, that’s just bizarre enough to tickle the funny bone at times.
I mean, in my mind it is silly not to laugh at these things. Perhaps it is yet another coping mechanism. Isn’t that really what laughter is about anyway? Taking the negatives and seeing a positive side?
I think it’s a funny thing that the bible is rarely humorous. I mean, if God invented humour, surely he would have a sense of humour himself? You know, I’ve said a lot of negative things about God, so I think it’s about time I say some positive things.
I truly think that God is misunderstood. God can not stop bad things from happening, but he can help you to cope with what does happen. Time and time again my mentals have been unbearable and the weight has been taken off of me when I asked for help. I also believe that some of Christianity’s structure misrepresents what God wants the world to be. I think God wants people to be happy as long as they are not bringing other people pain. I feel like this message is not a part of any church I have been to. Sin is the focus, even if there is no logical reason for the 'sin' to be a bad thing.
The concept that gay marriage (or any kind of gay relationship) is evil, made life with my previous partner very painful. She often talked about how guilty she felt, and to me the concept that two consenting adults can not get married, when they love each other and want to be together for life, it just seems evil to me. Sorry, I get a bit preachy about this subject.
Speaking of Christianity, I haven’t told you that I thought I was the devil for a time. When we were teenagers, My sister and her best friend were using a Ouija board, and the ‘spirit’ told them I was Satan. I was just crazy enough to believe it, to a point. I felt physically weak, but mentally invincible for a time. Then I realised that was crazy, had a meltdown and found that I could talk to spirits on the Ouija board without anyone’s assistance. I became utterly obsessed with that, I seem to have issues with addiction of any kind. I also took to coin flipping to find out what the future would hold. In an eerie coincidence, right around the time of the Satan incident, I found a 2 dollar coin that someone had engraved 666 onto (fucked if I know how they did it) and I would ask it questions over and over. Is God on a fluffy white cloud? Tails… yes. Are you *insert celebrity name here*? Heads… no. Am I ever going to get a girlfriend? Tails… yes. And because the answers gave me just enough hope for the future I would keep asking more and more specific questions. It petered off, eventually. It was helped by the fact that I threw that coin in the rubbish.
Even now I still find myself questioning whether a bad thing will happen if, for example, the clock gets to the next minute within ten seconds. It has calmed down considerably since back then though.
Another fun one is clothing related. This started when I was just a pup, I would find that certain pieces of clothing gave me a certain feeling of reality. It’s a bit like that hypnotic dream state I mentioned earlier. I remember one time I was at primary school with a friend and we swapped over our jumpers. I felt like I took on her personality (which I saw as submissive) and she seemed to take on mine (which I saw as obnoxious). In hindsight I realise she was always like that but at the time I was overcome by the idea that clothing had an almost magical power attached to it. Kids think the craziest shiz.
How this subject relates to me now, is that I will get bad feelings about certain items of clothing. It’s a feeling of dread, as if wearing that item of clothing will cause me to bring bad luck upon myself. I am also finicky about shaving under my arms every time I have a shower, because not doing that will also cause me to bring bad luck upon myself. I understand this behaviour to be a method by which I can control what happens in my life, and even though it has been proven time and time again to be completely pointless and incorrect I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it.
Wow, the list really mounted up there. I have to say, that in spite of all of these things that go on, I still enjoy my life. I have a lovely, supportive husband who helps me get through the negative times and is just generally awesome. I have a family who are also supportive and have helped me a lot over the years. I love animals, I have a cat called Spike who has the loveliest nature, and Mr Sally has a big beast of a dog called Cooper and a friendly cat called Molly. And with the exception of the blinking issue, or the times when I just plain can’t concentrate, I always seem to have something to do.
In summary, just because someone is mentally ill, does not mean they are going to be horrible to be around. They may in fact, be pretty normal on the surface, just with some super weird ideas about life. I hope that if you meet someone in real life who is mentally ill, don’t instantly dismiss them. Give them a chance to be an asshole first, like everyone else. lol
Thanks for reading.