I can remember walking through a grocery store shortly before my first major psychotic episode of schizophrenia. I was buzzing and I could see and hear things so acutely it was like I had superpowers. I could see what people were thinking just by looking at them, and I could feel their thoughts as I stared in their direction. Most of the thoughts were about how weird I was and how I had to be careful, lest my status as a prophet would be compromised. This all seems completely ridiculous, but that’s kind of the set of circumstances that you go through in the midst of a psychotic episode. These are symptoms, though, and a major one that many report experiencing is the sense that they are telepathic.
Telepathy in the classical sense means that you can read other people’s minds. It means that you can communicate through thought alone, and that you’re deepest most innermost thoughts and insecurities are on display because others can read your mind. This may manifest itself in the notion that the FBI or the government has planted a chip in your head, or that you somehow have gained magical powers because you’re a prophet or a magician. Either way, this set of symptoms is particularly insidious in the moment.
What may not be evident is how terrifying the notion is that people are rifling through your brain, that they can read your thoughts and that there’s nothing you can do to stop them. It may seem strange that anybody can arrive at the conclusion that they are telepathic or that the world is telepathic, but a function of mental illness are the careening, paranoid thoughts and delusions that everything has a purpose: even the most innocuous coincidence means something so, inevitably, you start to string together the things you think and feel and the things that happen to you into some semi coherent (to you) web of connections, and some of the connections can’t hold up unless someone knows your deepest secrets and the innermost workings of your mind. Once you’ve accepted that strange possibility, it’s pretty easy to arrive at the conclusion that people can read your mind.
The simple and blunt truth of the matter is that this perception is a function of a serious brain disorder. It is an illusion brought to you by the mixed up chemicals in your head, and it’s something that you have to be very very careful not to fall into.
I’ve been stable for for nearly eleven years now, and during that time I’ve come to terms with my symptoms of feeling paranoid and making connections and having delusions of grandeur and telepathy. It’s a long process to get better after a diagnosis of mental illness, but once you have a basis and a name for the thing that you’re suffering from you can use that to your advantage by learning about it.
In truth, telepathy, connections, paranoia, and delusions are all just the myriad strange symptoms of schizophrenia. They are all in your head, and while it might take years to come to terms with all of this and to get better through medication and therapy, knowing that reality isn’t as complicated as you were making it out to be is an incredibly freeing realization.
The world is boring, and the mystical superpowers you think you have only exist in movies. That’s it, and knowing that means you don’t have to worry. Plus, wouldn’t it feel good to know that no one is invading your mind?
You can get better; just know you’re not alone.