What’s it like to experience delusions?

I’m not sure what I have, I haven’t been able to get a diagnosis or treatment,  but since I’ve was about eight I’ve experienced seeing shadow monsters that disappear after a blink or hearing a friend call my name at midnight when they are far away at their home. Believing something so outlandish that only I could ever understand and everyone else just didn’t get it, or in less artsy terms, I’ve experienced psychosis, the combination of hallucination and delusions. Seeing, hearing or feeling something that isn’t there would be a hallucination. Believing something that is outside of accepted reality would be a delusion, and I’ve had that since I was about eight.

I want to focus on delusions since it’s a part of severe mental disorders people have a hard time understanding. Sometimes they last for a long time like when I was 10 and thought I was inhuman for a year. Not in a fun “pretending to be a penguin during play” way either. Just getting worn down by all the dehumanization I faced by accepting it, and saying if I am not human then what am I? 

What people don’t understand is there is usually something in my lived experience that fuels the delusion. With the example above, thinking that you are inhuman is very outlandish, but with the context that I am autistic and was active on the Internet where I saw a lot of hate and dehumanization of autistic people, it becomes a little easier to see what created that perception of reality for me.

A lot of things could potentially contradict my logic to the point I break out of the delusion, but a lot of things that could contradict don’t convince me. I could use my own logic to explain away the contradiction or ignore it because the person bringing it up just doesn’t understand what it’s like to walk a mile in my shoes.

When I thought I was inhuman, I acted pretty much the same as I did before the delusion, just a bit more detached, lacking in emotional expression and I didn’t do much. Some delusions can have you in a panicked frenzy feeling like you’re an animal in a cage, but some have more depressive effects. People couldn’t even tell I was having the delusion.

But what finally broke the delusion? One time I looked at myself in the mirror and thought. “I don’t look like a snail or like a monkey. I look like a human, so I am probably a human.” Then it felt like a fog was lifted over my head, like I could feel more and think clearly again, but it’s funny. If anyone else brought that up, I probably wouldn’t have listened, and it wasn’t a super emotional reasoning about who we give humanity and why people are dehumanized and why we hurt other people like that. It was just, I look human. 

And I actually didn’t realize this counted as a delusion until I was 13 years old and had another more frenzied delusion about thinking someone was going to kill me. Before I even thought I had delusions, I explained this incident when I was 10 to someone once, and they didn’t say that it was a delusion either.

I feel like since we stigmatize delusions so much, say minimizing stuff like “that’s delusional” so much they don’t even feel real. Like they happen to a poor few of the population, and they could never happen to someone I know, and definitely they can’t happen to me. 

I haven’t had a full delusion in a while. I’ve actually been so happy in my life for the past year that it almost has created a delusion of me supposedly faking my mental disorder and actually being fine, but I have the insight to know that’s not true, I still have depressive episodes, occasionally see things, and I have plenty of intrusive thoughts that I try to ignore throughout the day, and those intrusive thoughts could always potentially evolve into a delusion, and I remember what my life was like back then.

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