With the illness

In 2011, I had a psychotic decompensation that resulted in a hospitalization of 2.5 months. But the trip to the world of mental illness that I’ll tell you here includes many detours and landscapes… It is impossible for me to describe everything or to do it in details… And if you do not understand everything, do not worry… me neither!

How to say… even if the experience presented here proves to be as exact as possible, there could well be several versions relating it so much it is difficult for me to choose at which period of my life to begin, what facts and actions to share, where to finish and how to tell it… The version you are about to read is just that, a simple version that could have taken a different turn according to my mood, my conscience and my abilities of the moment. Of course, the story of my life does not stop at the moments told here… which can finally only give a brief glimpse of my experiences between my 28 and 40 years.

Who have I become?

At the end of my 28 years, in February 2007, at last, sitting on a chair, I realize that I do not know who I am anymore. I do not recognize myself and ask myself the question: who am I? Where did Nathalie go? I find myself embittered by life and ugly internally … Then everything follows: classes on personal development, yoga, meditation where I seem to find myself a little and find a little joy… I must tell you that at the time I was in the world that can be very cold of science as a biologist in neuroscience doing a thesis on the plasticity of the nervous system. There, I made my mice live very simple experiences, then kill them and analyze their brains. These gestures did not look like me, I who child liked to play with snails and could not hurt a fly. But mechanically and taken in an impulse of passion for my subject of thesis, I accomplished them… and I worked a lot, leaving aside my social life, my family life…

Loss of meaning for my work

One day in September 2008, while the pleasure found during my yoga sessions, meditation or sacred songs helped me to do my daily work, I enrolled, under the encouragement of my sister, in a class of osteopathy on the nervous system, a course I was very lucky to be accepted in (Thank you Dr. Guyot). There, I am invited to put my hands under the back of another participant and to listen to the flow inside the body… and there, wow, I feel the life… in the other… and by ricochet in me too… there is life under our skin, in our body… it moves! I discover by my sense of touch all the beauty of Life!!! What a luck!!! And what an opening of heart and mind that brings me! But I am also terribly upset: thinking of studying life as a biologist, I see the magnitude of my error, I who studied dead tissue!

From this moment everything changes…

The explosive cocktail: exhaustion and flushes of oxygen

In November, pressed like a lemon I was at my last drop. Exhausted by a titanic thesis work performed day and night, in deplorable conditions, and for which I had suddenly lost the menaing, I could not take it anymore. In a burst of survival, I knelt and spoke to the God of the Universe: Make me what you want, but let me hear! A week later, pushed by a kind friend, I left for a spiritual retreat. Yoga, meditation and silence interspersed with sacred songs… all the activities I loved were thus condensed on the 4 days of break that I finally managed to give myself. Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out… The oxygen thus brought to my brain, literally and figuratively, transported me into a state of euphoria. And this one did not stop when it was time to go home! Oh no! Metamorphosed, I was! Happy? Oh yes, but especially strong like a sphinx! And it was with this energy that 1° I decided to separate myself from my husband and 2° that I went, two weeks later, to my thesis director to announce that I was going to stop my scientific research.

Emotional shock

My husband at the time, although annihilated, accepted the news. This did not happen exactly the same way with my teacher. Indeed, for one day daring to say such a thing to him, I had accumulated a quite huge dose of energy and this one was sent back to me right in the head, but with a quadrupled force! Can you imagine? Impossible to retranscribe the violence of his reply but whatever, I left… No,… not exactly empty-handed, but with at most 7 days of vacation… And strangely, by the shock received during his performance, I was this time, no, not euphoric anymore, but downright illuminated! My thesis director had suddenly become divine and the earth filled with love. Everything on earth was beautiful and everything made sense… Some will call it later mystical crisis, other a burn out, others a modified state of consciousness or then post traumatic syndrome or a state of dissociation… Anyway, from that moment, the paranormal experiences enter into my life at a great speed.

Flow of emotions

A flower could carry me to tears while telepathic experiences multiplied. A question went through my mind and, hop, the answer came to me spontaneously in the form of a call or a communication that took place outside. The windows opened by themselves too. The night could be particularly disturbing. One night, in my bed, images showing the evolution of the earth came to me: Big Bang, the dinosaurs, the crucifixion, the witch hunt… These images were accompanied by movements inside my body. That day, I did not panic. I just tried to stay with those sensations.

Another night, filled with an unconditional love for Life, the earth, my friends, my family, I felt that my body was too limiting to contain all this energy and that I, with all my fears, my conditioning, I was not able to live with that force vibrating inside of me. I thought then for a moment about openning the blinds and throw my body through the window to release its energy (living on the 5th floor, it could have had some consequences). At that moment, I thought of a conference by Thomas D’Ansembourg, which I had assisted a few weeks before and which had uplifted me by the accuracy of his message. During his presentation, he spoke about a suicidal person he had accompanied in therapy and claimed not only that it was her great life energy in a too limiting envelope that pushed her into her actions but also that this envelope which is our body is the only way to put a concrete act on this earth – basically, without this envelope, as limiting as it is, we can not accomplish anything. He added that it was necessary, by working on oneself, to learn how to manage this energy of love and gradually put one’s life at its service (here is basically my transcription of his message). At that moment, on my bed, remembering this message changed my eyes. And I fell asleep with the hope that a therapy in nonviolent communication would bring the necessary solutions to my inner tensions.

Hypersensitivity and loss of bearings

The bizarre experiments did not stop there. One Saturday night, taken by a violent headache, I went to bed upstairs. Down, my sister and a friend were cooking. A lingering odor made me think: “My God, my brain is catching fire, it is burning!” (Thought, you can imagine, that I had never had before). The following Monday, I learned that friends of one of my colleagues had perished in a fire on the same Saturday … My boss, hearing the news, asked me, “Did you feel something? Me no…”. Shocked by his question I did not realize anything… But back to my office, I realized… Uh! Yes, I had felt! Or? What’s happening? The improbability of these coincidences made my head spin and I had to go home to regain my senses… Damaged by these extraordinary experiences and for which I did not benefit from any lighting or help, I asked the Universe if all this could calm down. The Universe seemed to be executing my request as I was able to concentrate fully on my dissertation work for a little less than a year.

Confident

Working relentlessly and steadily to complete my thesis in the time allotted (delays that were postponed in extremis twice), I arrived at the end of the race exhausted, without any strength and in a quit bad emotional state. And unemployment was waiting for me… Yes, at the university where I studied / worked, it was forbidden to be an assistant for more than 5 years… Which was my case… No chance therefore to continue my research there. But I must say that at that moment my state of fatigue did not allow me to envisage any future even in research,… my inner tensions were at their peak. I decided to see a psychotherapist thinking that speaking would help me calm down all those emotions that heckled me. She determined that I was in severe depression, but confident, I thought that rest and pleasant activities in addition to my psychotherapy would allow me to regain my senses and also that time would bring its solutions… The solution? Find a new job, committing to the possible… 200 km from my friends and my family where I had to move in…

Alternation between delusions and awakenings

Then, you will understand that shortly after, less than two months by the way, I am in emotional crisis, which had never really ended anyway, and begins to have funny feelings and thoughts. An itch on the shoulder and I imagine a bug coming out of it. To avoid a graveyard and I understand to have given the message to the Universe that I chose at this moment life rather than death… One day, invited by a colleague and friend, I go to the movie theater to see “Black Swan” whose theme is schizophrenia. Shortly after I realize the similarities between the experience of the main character and mine. I then understand that I am not well at all and that the situation is urgent but I do not understand what solutions to give: go on vacation, a sabbatical, a professional reorientation or psychiatric asylum?… it was during a weekend in late March 2011 that the answer came when I had to give an answer for an apartment. That day, thoughts fuse, the past mixes with the present, the material becomes alive and sends me information that I feel as crucial even vital… I see my soul leave and be replaced by another… and my body is gradually transforming into that of a man in a delirium that will end in the emergencies!

Emergencies and the Psychiatric Hospital

And yes, in a moment of lucidity I call the psychiatric hospital but it denies any help as I was not being suicidal. It is therefore in full delirium that my sister came to get me, at my request, to take me to the emergencies (a stomach ache, probably due to hunger, being interpreted as an animal – or something else – which developed in me and that it was necessary to be able to detect in time)… the caregivers detects quickly a severe depression with psychoses… there, devastated, I entrust to the chief doctor that my soul has left… but the medication given calm my thoughts and allow me to fall asleep. The next day, I am transferred to the psychiatric hospital.

Arriving there, the fear of this strange environment makes me dizzy and the impression that the ground and the walls revolve around me … the caregivers, again competent, reassure me – in their own way – and here I am finaly taken care of. .. and there, tension can finally come down and thoughts diminish. I learn to accept, as much as possible, the situation but also to receive help and find the pleasure of doing various activities, I feel calm thanks also to some medication.Then a lot of  work, years of work even, in psychoanalysis and from time to time in bodily therapies, follow to release the accumulated tensions, to regain confidence in me, in the others… little by little… And I resume, despite a tenacious fatigue, a small professional activity as a trainee in a project management structure related to health.

I thought then that I was out of it, that everything would be fine and that my visit to the Hospital was due to a “simple” overwork. 

Relapses

Feeling that I was getting better or at least thinking that the drugs were no longer of a great help, I stopped my drug treatment in November 2013. There was then a first small relapse in 2014 due to too much stress which made me take some drugs again for a short period… but in June 2017, as I was not taking any medication anymore, accumulated tensions, maybe minor or kept under the skin, are released suddenly… and here is the psychotic decompensation coming back… delusional ideas come up again and I have to take some medicine again. The next day, the perception of a clear and crystalline voice invites me to suicide… and I take it very seriously… until, again protected by my life force, a thought keeps me from going further with it … the one who says that it is not only the action that counts but also its shape / color; even if an action can be beneficial in itself in the long run, its shape / color must also be “good” and not create pain / negativity in the other… then beautiful projects flow in me… Phew! Transformation of thoughts… During this period I take my medication, but, being always so refractory, only for a short time – just enough time to allow me to regain my senses. I was therefore able to resume my trainee activity fairly quickly. But, actually, it only lasted a few months! Yes, a new psychotic decompensation was waiting for me.

A new phase of psychosis

After an intense period at work, an introductory course in nonviolent communication troubled me. In the evening, after talking about my weekend to my friend, ideas fuse again; I understand that this method of entering into communication with oneself and the others has the potential to overcome wars and bring peace to the world, my childhood dream. Taken then in a burst of euphoria, I also begin to understand its range in my environment and I see myself screaming to them “Wake up, wake up, wake up!”. But all of a sudden, a click occurs and I understand that this call to wake up is for me. I imagine then the worst and that an earthquake is about to happen. Panicked, I take my dog ​​and my car to go as far as possible. I, of course, thought to warn my relatives and neighbors but I immediately thought they would not believe me and they would take me for crazy. So I left alone… with my dog. On the road, I understand that this flight forward is endless and that I will find no safe place. Everything had become dangerous. I take the way back and stop on a parking lot. There I pray and ask for healing. Once calmed down, I go home. Monday morning, I feel, of course, fragile emotionally, but still go to work. There, a small remark from my boss upsets me. At the end of my morning work, I go home crying and sends her an email explaining my fragility and that I had to stop my job for a while. I then waited for my appointment with my physiotherapist and my doctor so that things could calm down a little.

Unfortunately, Wednesday afternoon, after my appointment at my doctor, ideas fuse again. Everything is going very, very fast in my brain. Returning home from the station, I feel in another reality. I hear the church bells ringing. Again, I believe in an earthquake, I am paralyzed and stomp on the spot. I imagine the world has gone out. But the ringing of the phone makes me come back to reality. Phew, nothing happened and I can rest my mind a little. I go home then where I find my mother and my friend. That night, my friend, worried, stayed at my house. Me, I have not closed the eye all night long, taken by incessant delusions. In the morning, I even asked my friend what year we live in… My friend is not reassured about my condition but still goes to work. I find myself alone… with my thoughts. And there, I see myself abandoned by the rest of the world, who has left to live on another planet. Alone, because nobody wanted to take me with – I was too mean. I see myself wither and the fauna and flora take over. I will end, sure, eaten by my dog ​​who also stayed with me. I accept my destiny as black as it can be. At noon, my friend comes back to see me but I interpret his visit as his last goodbye before he, too, go on the space shuttle. I am alone, completely alone on this earth. Finally, worried about my behavior, my parents, informed by my friend, came to my house. My friend, meanwhile, took a leave for the afternoon and joined us. Given my condition, they decided to take me to my doctor. There, I do not say words and do not take the drugs that are presented to me. How to take them when I was no longer in this world! How to say… the world around me was no longer in my reality! Fortunately, however, I was sufficiently cooperative and docile to reach the hospital bed and receive a much needed injection. Phew, I can finally recover my spirits and be freed from this bad nightmare!

Where I am at now

Since then, I am recovering but this time I understood that:

  • When I release the pressure after a relatively intense period, I can go into psychotic delusions.
  • This very intense and long period that I lived during my thesis work provoked an invisible break in me ​​which, although repaired, left a fragility, as on a string on which we pooled too much, and which got broken. It may be patched up, it will always remain weaker. This breakout also probably had consequences on my physical condition since I live since with chronic fatigue.
  • In a crisis phase, I can arrive in such a state of delirium that the real world around me becomes virtually nonexistent and at this point it is impossible for me to consciously take my medication or even interact with the surrounding world.
  • I am the one who pulls on the rope, out of ignorance, passion, fear… etc. until it breaks. I have to understand these mechanisms and heal wounds that push me to have such behavior.
  • I have to take medicine to fill my fragility. Maybe one day I will be able to consider stopping them. To avoid entering a new psychotic phase which is really disturbing for me as well as for my family, it will be necessary then that I know how to:
    1. listen to and respect the needs of my body and my soul,
    2. set myself benevolent limits (to stop myself in my surges for hyper-activity),
    3. avoid inner tensions by sharing what I have inside with my family and friends (something that I have had a great deal of trouble doing so far – I learn thanks to my psychotherapist to do it little by little),
    4. be attentive to my thoughts so that if they become negative I can talk about it immediately to my family and take the necessary measures to avoid a greater relapse,
    5. to be surrounded in moments of crisis, which seems vital to me.

Here is where I am at on June 10, 2018

  • to conscientiously take my medications,
  • to do individual and family psychotherapy which brings new awareness,
  • to take my life back with simple activities (walk with my dog, have a meal with my family) as well as more demanding (writing workshop, special day with the dog club… and the resumption of a job at 30% in the project management structure where I did my internship) and other projects in my head that may get into place.

Today, I do not know what will be like tomorrow or which path I really committed myself to, but I sincerely hope that it is that of health from all angles helped by my family, my dog, my friends, my colleagues, my psychotherapist, etc.

I invite you to go to the “My path / Towards Healing” page of my site, if you want to know more about my experiences towards healing or my thoughts, and about “My path / Experts corner” if you want to know now the point of view of my psychotherapist.

“Do not confuse your path with your destination. It’s not because the weather is stormy today that it means you’re not heading for the sun “

Anthony Fernando