Homeless in Psychosis: An Adventure Sent by the Gods.
I never felt without a home when I was out there.
I had my sleeping bag, my backpack filled with random papers, weed, cigarettes, snacks, a meal card to the homeless shelter’s lunch program and a bowl, even if that bowl was an apple sometimes. Every evening, I would take any trash that had been left in my backpack out and make a neat, little pile next to my bed. This trash pile, this meant home to me. I’d cleaned my house. I’d put things in order.
There was order in this chaos, in this place. As long as that trash pile was there, I was home.
A lot of people can’t imagine sleeping on a sidewalk. But it’s really not bad. Sure, sometimes it was dangerous, but not often. I can name two times that I feared for my safety out of over a hundred nights that I slept outside. And a couple of times my stuff got stolen. And yes, sometimes I would sleep in a park, and the rain or the cops would show up. I was told to move by either God or the men in uniforms.
But it wasn’t that bad, sleeping outside. I was in bed by 9 and up by 7. I got a full 10 hours of sleep, undisturbed. I’d lie in bed, with a pack of smokes or some rolled cigarettes, and just feel… full. Like I didn’t need anything else in the world to be happy. I don’t like to think about the other people. The people who didn’t know where I was. I can’t imagine how worried they were.
I don’t know what that feels like because I wasn’t worried about them. I was on my own, on an adventure sent by the gods. The gods! Boy, did I piss them off! And rightly so. My morals left me, and in my confused state, I made some mistakes. I blurred lines more than lines should be blurred. I’ll pay for that one day. I’m not sure how, but I know whoever is out there won’t let me forget it. And I don’t want them to.
I want to pay for what I did. I want to feel the weight of the pain I caused, the harm I did. Because I don’t right now. I just know that I fucked up, but I don’t feel it.
A lot of people don’t understand mental illness. And it’s really hard to put into words. We see movies like A Beautiful Mind and think, Wow! What creativity and brilliance! But it’s not like that. It’s one impulsive thought based on one random belief that drives us to make risky decisions that puts our lives on the line.
I remember being convinced that the world had really began in 1980, and the government had brainwashed us into thinking that the world was much older than that. Some people were born old, some were born as babes, and some came after. At the start they convinced us all that we had a history, stories, relationships, love.
I told this to a cop once who was writing me a ticket for riding the tram without paying for a ticket. I know he thought I was crazy and felt bad because that ticket was never processed.
I was so sure that there were hidden meanings in the Constitution that I printed it all out one day at the homeless shelter’s computer lab and sat on the sidewalk underlining and circling and writing notes in the margins. I did the same thing with newspapers that I would steal off people’s front lawns.
It was an adventure at first, but then things got dark. I smoked a bowl with a friendly man who meant me no harm, but it must have been some strong weed, because I felt a DMT-like trip coming on. I fell backwards into space, and above me, I saw the gods and people who were going to decide my fate for the mistakes that I made in my life.
When they asked what I had to say for myself, the only thing I could think of was something I had read in school from Christopher Marlowe, and how he said that everyone has a part to play, and I realized, in that moment, that I was the anti-Christ, and I was going to hell. And I accepted that. I had to accept the fact that I would be tortured for eternity.
I wasn’t, of course. The trip ended, but it had really only just begun. For days I was tortured by voices from the gods who had decided my fate, telling me that I was never going to find happiness again. I realized that all the people who I thought, in my months of paranoia, were out to hurt me were actually not. And that is when I decided to call my mom. Come get me, please, I begged her.
It was the only way to escape my fate of this hell I had found myself in. I was running, running from the punishment that these gods had condemned me to — eternal, mental torture.
The whole time I was at the hospital, I felt like I was running, running from this punishment that I deserved. I was cheating the system that the gods had put in place. They couldn’t get to me if I was just in a safe place.
About a week later, the voices went away, and slowly, reality began creeping back in. I was a person, and while I wasn’t wholly convinced that the gods wanted to see me suffer, I knew that I had just been confused about what was real and what wasn’t.
Psychosis is no joke. I hate when people say, “That girl is such a psycho.” Or, “My girlfriend is acting so psychotic.” That’s not psychosis, friends. Psychosis is an alternate reality that few can really imagine, and only the most talented of artists can capture. Something that I can’t do. It’s a time of confusion and chaos. People you can’t see are out to get you, but your mind convinces you that it is real.
I now have true compassion for everyone who even gets the slightest paranoia or depression or pain. For that I am thankful. But I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. And I never want to visit that world again.
C. R. Black first received the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder bipolar type when she was 20 years old. Her hope is that anyone who struggles with their mental health in any way knows that they are loved, and receives the care and support that she has been fortunate enough to receive.