this is the most honest account i can give of my first (and i hope only) psychotic episode. i won’t give any analysis of what happened, just the details–i don’t want this post to be too long. i’ll talk about the implications of this episode later, maybe in my next post. if you’re at all uncomfortable with depictions of violence associated with mental illness, stop reading here.
the day i lost my mind didn’t seem all that different from any other, at least at the start. i had been feeling depressed all day and even a little suicidal, but that’s not necessarily abnormal for a person who’s been through two rounds of postpartum depression, been misdiagnosed with clinical depression, then rediagnosed with manic-depressive illness. i was struggling that day, yes, but i was dealing–or so i thought.
i was sitting in the den with sei, my husband, writing in my journal while he watched espn. then, from who knows where, i felt a terrible rage come over me, and i started to violently scribble in my journal, pen clenched in my fist like a child just learning to color. when i realized what i was doing, i closed the notebook and hurled it across the room, along with my pen. i then reached for anything else i could throw: a couple of books and my purse all went flying toward the bookshelf at the other end of the room. and then i put my head in my hands, pulling at my hair, feeling as though i could jump out of my skin. i didn’t know what to do.
but then, i had a revelation. all i needed was two glass cups. i needed to throw them into the street, hear them shatter, and my rage would leave me.
i jumped off the couch and ran toward the kitchen, grabbed two glasses out of the cupboard, and marched purposely toward the front door. sei, alarmed by my behavior, stopped me halfway there. he took hold of my wrist and asked me what i was doing with the cups, and i calmly told him that i was going to go throw them into the street. he told me no, i shouldn’t do that–i could hit a car, or a person, or that the pieces could somehow end up in our front yard and hurt one of our children.
and then, all hell broke loose.
i tried to make a run for it, but sei took hold of one of the glasses and used his other hand to push me back against a wall, restraining me there as i screamed at the top of my lungs: “you’re hurting me! i can’t breathe! let me go! i just need to throw these glasses, and then i will be fine!” he tried to speak calmly to me, to talk me out of my obsessive need to throw these cups into the street, but i was having none of it. he still had one hand on one of the glasses, but my other hand was free, and i threatened to throw the glass on the floor if he didn’t let me go outside. he continued to restrain me, speaking calmly, so i did it. i threw the glass on the floor as hard as i could, taking immense pleasure at the shattering sound it made as it exploded into pieces. i think i even smiled, maybe said, triumphantly, “see? i told you i would do it.”
at that point, sei wrenched the other glass from my hand, gave it to either my sister-in-law or my cousin (who were both in the room, looking on helplessly, perhaps crying), and used even more force to pin me against the wall, pushing his forearm into my neck. i continued to scream, mostly nonsense, but also just bloodcurdling shouts that shook the whole house and most likely woke the neighborhood. i was sobbing and thrashing, trying to get away, and then i started throwing punches. i landed one, hard, on sei’s chest, and about ten closed-fist right hooks to his face before he managed to stop me. he took my wrists and gently led me to the carpeted den, then laid me down with my hands pinned as he sat on my back. if you’ve never met sei, you should know that he’s no lightweight–he’s 6’3″ and weighs about 240 pounds, and i was holding my own against him, still bucking and screaming as though my hair was on fire.
through it all, he remained calm, talking to me and asking me to come back to him. “alexis, can you hear me? i know you’re in there. come back to me, my love. this isn’t you, but i know you’re there. come back.” i finally stopped struggling, and he got off my back and let me sit up. but i wasn’t back yet. i was still in a rage, still angry that he hadn’t trusted me enough to let me throw the cups into the street. as soon as i was free, i dove for a bottle of klonopin that happened to be sitting in my bag right next to me, opened the bottle, and threw back about sixty pills, right down my throat. yelling “no, don’t!”, sei rushed forward and pinned me to the ground again, shoving his whole hand into my mouth, scooping the pills out and throwing them onto the floor as i scrabbled to pick them up and put them back in. he called for help again, asking my cousin to gather the pills and put them back in the bottle. after assuring that none of the pills had made their way into my stomach, sei sat me up again.
by this point, my body was heaving with sobs, and i was struggling to breathe. i had no rationale as to why i’d tried to swallow the pills, but in retrospect, i’m almost positive it was an attention-seeking gesture that was only part and parcel of my psychotic break. it was that final measure that broke sei, too, and he sat on the floor, in tears, as he begged me to stop.
and then, it was over. the light came back into my eyes, and sei and i sat on the floor and talked for almost an hour, about what had just happened, about what we would do the next day, and whether or not my klonopin was too damaged for me to use it for the anxiety i was sure to feel soon after what had just transpired. it was the best talk we’d had in weeks, and as we made plans for the future i couldn’t help wondering what the hell had just happened.
and that was what happened on the day i lost my mind.