From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom


There is no instinct like that of the heart.
~Lord Byron

It was only when the voices inside my head became so loud that they drowned everything else out that I admitted this was a battle I couldn’t win. Not alone. I needed help, but in addition to the auditory hallucinations, I was suffering acute paranoia. I trusted no one. They were all out to get me, stealing my energy, my life force, plotting to kill me.

Over the last few months, the paranoia had grown. Malevolent whispers murmuring through my psyche insisted that my food was poisoned. The simple act of sharing a meal with another human being had become torture. How was I to playact, behave as if nothing was wrong, when I knew what they were all up to? I had no stomach for such charades, and I began to withdraw deeper and deeper into myself, shunning company, becoming a recluse.

Naturally, my friends and family knew something was wrong. They kept calling and dropping by, but this only convinced me more that they were out to get me, trying to get close enough for the kill.

I was heartbroken. Even as the voices insisted there were murderous plots underfoot, a part of me didn’t want to believe, refused to believe, the very people I loved could be trying to destroy me. However, the voices couldn’t be ignored, not when they were inside my very head. The repeated warnings raised doubts, and I didn’t know what to believe. It seemed easiest to retreat into solitude, even though I was never alone. The voices were always with me.

Psychosis crept up on me, and within a few months, I had completely unraveled. I could no longer carry on a conversation with another person. The noise in my head was simply too loud. I could no longer fake normalcy. Throughout the last few months, I’d been showing a mask to the world, hiding how I was coming undone.

But I couldn’t fool her, not my mother. No matter the excuses I made to not see her, she kept calling and coming by. She’d bring food, and I’d pretend not to be hungry, promising to eat it later, but secretly waiting until she left so I could throw it in the trash without tasting it.

The voices spared no one. No connection, no bond was sacred. I grappled with pained disbelief. How could my mother be trying to poison me? She wasn’t she. She was an imposter. Somebody had made a switch. I was powerless. Everybody I loved was at risk. They, my secret enemies, were striking through the ones I loved. I had to play along. Having a breakdown was what they wanted. I knew my thoughts would be considered crazy. I was terrified of confiding what I was thinking to anyone, terrified of being locked up.

I kept up the charade for months, but then came the day it became too much. My mother showed up at my doorstep. I could barely hear her. I couldn’t fake normal anymore, and this time she wouldn’t be put off. She kept asking me what was wrong. I claimed I didn’t feel well. She insisted I see a doctor.

But I couldn’t see a doctor. Of course, they would use my doctor to get to me. He’d prescribe me poison. He’d have me locked up. It was a trap.

I battled my demons while trying to hold a normal conversation with my mother, trying to put her off with plausible excuses. Finally, I broke down. Once I started crying, I couldn’t stop. The whole story came out. I rambled. I raved. My mother called the doctor and told the secretary it was an emergency so we could get in right away. She drove me down there within the hour. I had no more energy to fight. Soul weary, I decided to take a chance, to trust her.

I was prescribed anti-psychotics, and some guardian angel watching over me whispered in my ear that I should take the pills. My mother took me home with her. For the next few weeks, she made sure I took my pills and she took care of me.

The madness slowly receded. The voices stilled into silence. The delusional thoughts started to seem absurd. I was told I’d had a schizophrenic episode. No amount of willpower, no commands to myself to act normal had worked. By trying to be strong and handle things myself, I had slowly descended into hell, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t claw my way out.

I had needed help, and help came. My mother. My lifeline. She never gave up on me. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. Thank you.

~Kiran Kaur

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