October 14, 2004

Shadows of a Tesseract on the Dark Campus

This is my first entry. I don't expect anyone will ever think of looking here, but if they do, they'll learn a thing or two about the price of curiosity.

Over the Summer holidays, I was diagnosed with schizotypal disorder – a personality disorder which manifests itself in a discomfort within close relationships, unusual patterns of speech, eccentric behaviour and cognitive or perceptual distortions. I could say this is wonderful, if I were particularly given to sarcasm. But at least it now has a name, and there are things that can be done about it. I'm taking Olanzepine, which is an atypical neuroleptic; I've been started on the lowest dosage.

I don't think anyone was quite aware of how I spent last year. Most of it I could smile, laugh, make jokes, complain, hold conversations – in short, almost everything expected of a healthy student. What no one seemed to notice was that a lot of it was put on; that sometimes when I sounded happy, I actually felt absolutely nothing, or that the sounds of laughter were no more than echoed memories of real mirth.

Similarly, no one noticed how I would sit alone, in the darkness, listening to people I knew couldn't exist. No one suspected that I walked around the campus surrounded by spectral voices ready to take up the semblance of position and discuss my behaviour in minute detail, or that I'd sit in my bedroom watching ghostly auras form around me. No one found and read the diaries I kept, recording 'incidents' as they happened.

I often walk through the woods on my way home now out of a compulsion to find darkness, in which vision can evaporate to be replaced by hearing, where whispering trees condense to become hushed and twisted voices. I'll spend an hour or more getting home, compelled to stop and listen to criticisms from hiding phantoms – and arrive home drained, forced to find my mask and interact as though my night was nothing out of the ordinary.

I'd say that I'm not a naturally retiring person, that I'm not 'socially isolated,' but I suppose I am. The very unreality of my experience sets me apart from normal people just as dirt stands out on a white carpet.

And yet, sometimes I wonder. It's accepted that our reality isn't real, but I don't think most people understand the extent to which they manufacture the so-called 'real world'.

Take pattern, for instance. We see patterns between anything and everything, seldom caring that pattern is simply our (often false) observation of structure in incidental stability. And yet, we call this world of order 'reality,' and ignore the world of random caprice over which we weave our patterned webs.

And the patterns I see! At night, connections form furiously in my mind, unfolding like new cross-sections of a four-dimensional image, juxtaposed in rapid succession in an attempt at visualising the whole. My mind is a raving, out-of-control pattern-matcher, insisting that everything is secretly, darkly connected in a grand unifying scheme. If the pitiful shadows of this multiplying complexity can be called reality, surely I'm experiencing some sort of post-reality; if manufactured strands of similarity are sane constructions, I am not simply insane but rather supersane.

And yet, the voices which follow me, insubstantial as a point, belie this possibility. They taunt and jeer and keep me awake by delivering this blinding miasma, descending like malignant thistledown to break me to pieces with individually gentle, but collectively devastating blows.

And once more, no one suspects. I can learn and laugh and play and eat, even while I feel my thoughts being suppressed by hidden demons. It's beautifully duplicitous, to act for all the world like your ordinary, lucid student when I'm staving off a rebellion every few nights.

That is what 'schizotypal personality disorder' means to me. Why am I writing this? An attempt to capture the entirity of my experience when I feel fit. Why here? Simple: it stops people asking questions. If anyone feels in a particularly voyeuristic frame of mind, enough to explore and find this blog, I think they deserve a good dose of truth.

Should anyone actually bother to read this far down, they might still have a few questions. How often am I like that? About two or three nights a week, usually, though it has been getting worse and more frequent. How long have I had problems like this? Since I was sixteen. Am I really always acting when I laugh or talk animatedly or sound upset? No. Sometimes I'm really happy, or really interested, or really upset. Other times, I just be putting in a bit more than I actually feel. And other times, it's a complete charade that I'm putting on out of habit, because it's less effort to pretend than to appear outwardly bizarre. Perhaps I'm not always successful, but no one has brought it up, so I'm assuming it's enough to deflect curiosity.

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. very interesting to read – and very brave of you to write. i stumpled across your blog looking for a different type of "disorder" (who defines disorder? who has the right to do so? nevermind…). i hope your medication will be helpful and that you'll get better even though you don't sound as if you're suffering (i'm not implying that you don't) i can relate to acting feelings… when i'm alone it feels as if a mask has fallen off – but for different reasons. well maybe not, just my reasons for having something to hide are different. anyway, i'll stop ranting – please keep on writing.

    04 Nov 2004, 22:46

  2. Hey Laura, I get the same feeling too – disorder is such a charged word and all too often castigates individuals without due cause. I do think I have a problem, which is why I'm taking the medication. It's a perfect metaphor, when you're alone the mask comes off, all day you've been putting on a front without realising it. Almost everyone has something to hide.

    BTW, thanks for the rant, it was appreciated!

    10 Nov 2004, 06:28

  3. Actually that post was very interesting and walks quite a dramatic tightrope over very deep and serious questions about what makes up reality!

    The clarity of explanation in it suggests that there is more to come!

    I certainly think there is a writers soul in the middle of this, and a not ungenerous amount of sensible philosphy.

    I think you should try to read some philosophical texts before you confine yourself within a Mental Health paradigm. You will find that the thinking of philosophers often tread the same weary path! ( not always round warwick!)


    10 Nov 2004, 10:38

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