On Finally Seeing Maya

A fragmentation of reality


A major psychotic break


The other day I wrote a poem, Point of View, about having a psychotic break recently.  Well, the break was a very slight one.  Perhaps many people thought I was just being poetic.  It reminded me of a time when I was being prepped for a surgery and the surgeon asking me about the medications I take.  When asked why I took Thiothixene, an anti-psychotic, I told him that I was Bipolar.  He said, “I think we are all Bipolar.”  Maybe it was an effort to relate to me but it hit me in a “sore spot.”  Everyone has moods, it is true, but being Bipolar is not just being “moody.”  If we who are Bipolar have to endure the stigma of mental illness, at least allow that it is different from being “normal,” and not just some self-indulgent form of self-pity.  So braving the stigma of it all, for I am sure many will stop reading here if they have not already, it seems incumbent on me to educate people.  Bipolar Disorder is a major axis 1 mental illness characterized by extreme highs and lows.  It is one of the most risky mental illness diagnoses because people can die from it.  They suicide during a low.  In Bipolar 1 the sufferer can become manic and while manic, and even while despressed, can become psychotic.  Normal people do not become psychotic except perhaps in their dreams.  Being psychotic means a major break with reality.  It means entering another world that most don’t even know exists.  So, no, we are not all Bipolar.

And, yes, people have fractured views of reality.  But some views are more fractured than others.  There is another “reality” in psychosis.  This other reality exists when one is psychotic. What interests me is that different people who are psychotic have similar experiences, making me think there really IS another reality that is floating around out there.  In this other reality the TV and radio can give you messages directly relevant to your life– so relevant that one begins to think there is some mind-monitoring device in your TV or radio.  And the AC has a microphone that allows you to talk to the world outside one’s window, to the people in the street, and they respond to your commands.  When one has the nerve to venture outside of one’s apartment, a cacaphony of voices tells you positive or negative things.  People (I thought of them as teachers and/or psychics) do not come up to you and speak to you directly for they know you could not handle that.  Rather they speak loudly to one another about your behavior so you can’t help but overhear.  If they are pleased with your behavior at the time, the comments are your reward for getting well.  If they are displeased, criticism comes from everywhere.  There is nowhere to hide the shame you feel because negative feedback is coming at you from every direction.  Then life becomes a hell that does not disappear when you go back home, because you can still hear the voices next door or in the street.  That is just one down side of this other “reality.”  Everything has self-referential meaning.  You are either hearing voices that don’t exist, or you are one step away from that because the voices you hear are actually real, saying real things, but those things all have meaning for you and you alone.  There is no safe place.  No escape.  No privacy.  I was living in an apartment at the time.  How much worse is it to be living in a shelter, hospital, prison or, worse on the street where one is overwhelmed with every kind of stimuli possible!

Synchronicity is everywhere. This is, I suppose, a lower from of altered consciousness. Life alternates between heaven and hell.  That is what I meant by a fragmented view of reality in my poem, Point of View.  One wonders if there is some divine intervention in these states because of the ubiquitousness of synchronicity.  Is this another take on discerning Maya?  I often lament to my husband that I cannot see the world as a dream or Maya and I feel so utterly unenlightened.  And yet, how foolish I am, for many years ago I lived in another reality.  Only now can I see that “reality” IS a consensual dream or “Maya.”

(For a narrative non-fiction account of being Bipolar and Aspie, the quest for sanity and the search for love, please see: to purchase my book.)

11 responses

  1. Wow i have heard of people saying the voices told them to do it, how do you separate reality from the alternate?


    January 30, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    • You don’t– until after the fact or until you have a period of lucidity. Someone like a psychiatrist can point it out to you the difference but A) you have to tell him about the voices (I didn’t) and B) you have to believe it when he tells you the voices are unreal– two major, major qualifying conditions. Thank you for the ‘Like” and your interest!


      January 30, 2014 at 12:24 PM

  2. Running Elk

    Oops. Sorry, dear one for being one of the “Like” Ellen’s poetic meandering… :/ Hope you are feeling better today. {{{Big bear hug}}}
    The wife has the same problem with the “I get depressed too, sometimes” crowd. No, you get a little down in the dumps – it’s a little different from clinical depression… yet they don’t seem to get it all!
    Loved the recognition of the “other reality” moment! lol Sometimes I think that the consensual reality is so utterly bland in comparison with the full gamut of what is actually out there, and am constantly confused at just why, as a race, we have opted to codify THIS, and not some much more exciting, or empowering, or harmonious, or loving, or caring, or, well, just some other option as the consensus… Maybe one day. Maybe one day… after all, it took a while for the world to become un-flattened and turned into a globe… 😀
    Take care, dearest Ellen. We need you in our reality… selfish, I know, but that’s how we are… 😉 xx


    January 30, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    • Oh, dearest Running Elk, It was no complaint against you at all!!! Honest!!! Thanks for your good, caring wishes and the Big Bear hug! I understand your wife’s problem to some degree. Depression has even a worse rep than Bipolar. People just think you should “try harder” or other equally offensive things. And you of all people really understand about alternative realities. Yours is a uniquely rich mind and I admire you for your experiences. Thank you, again, and I appreciate your words more than you can know. Hugs back, xx ellen


      January 30, 2014 at 6:06 PM

  3. You are so brave and wonderful for sharing this. I am so sorry you must ensure these things. Know that I love and admire you for your strength and fortitude to rise above your struggles and help others through your writing. Much love, Stina


    January 30, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    • Dearest Stina, Thank you for your precious words. It was a hard post to write. I know many will shun me or not bother to read it once they see the word psychosis. But in my mind, you are the one with strength and fortitude. You must fight to go through each day with all you suffer. Much love to you, dear Stina, and prayers for an alleviation of the suffering– mental and physical! xx ellen


      January 30, 2014 at 8:29 PM

  4. My dear Ellen – I have read many things over many years, but the sheer depth of honesty and heart moved me so much. Working as a mental health therapist over years, I loved each and every one of my patients. Cause underneath what had been bulldozed over was such beautiful hearts minds and spirits. I applaud your honesty and exposure.


    January 30, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    • Thank you, dear Yisraela. I so appreciate your comment. This was hard to do and I know you understand that. I am sure all your patients loved you because you gave them love. And no matter how out of reality one is, love can get through. xx Ellen


      January 30, 2014 at 8:23 PM

  5. “reality” IS a consensual dream or “Maya.” There’s a familiarity about this kind of experience; “a lower from of altered consciousness. Life alternates between heaven and hell…” I think I must have been just passing through, seen enough of it to get interested, to know it’s subjective, rather than objective. I’ve read in a few different places that the higher form of altered consciousness occurs when the experiencer has merged completely with the experience: Advaita Vedanta. Is it the same thing seen partially? I hope this is helpful to you and I wish you well.


    January 31, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    • Thank you for your explanation and elucidation. I am not sure I understand what experience the experiencer has merged with to achieve Advaita Vedanta. A little out of my league here. And not sure about the thing see partially. It sounds very interesting and I thank you for your good wishes as well.


      January 31, 2014 at 9:25 PM

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