Confronting Delusions

The older I get, the more acutely I’m aware that my mind creates fictional situations and relationships all on its own. Once I started paying more attention to this process, I realized that this issue seems to come from my mind jumping to conclusions after stumbling upon something my mind considers to be a clue.

Here is a very simplified example.

I call my boyfriend.

Clue: he doesn’t answer.

Delusion: he is dead.

I’ve gotten better at spotting these irrational conclusions in simple situations (like the one above) but in the cases of hardcore delusions (like the one 16 months ago where I was certain my boss was trying to get me fired and sabotage the company we worked for) my delusions are made of a series of clues, usually all taken out of context, coupled with subsequent bad-conclusion-jumping.

It seems that in these situations, anything I read, anything that comes up in conversation, as well as physical clues (mail, clothing, you name it) all begin working together in a web of total fiction. The more clues I stumble upon that seem to lend themselves to my theory only make a stronger case for the delusion, and makes it more difficult for me to break the spell.

Generally, when I begin having delusions like this, I tend to make things much more complicated by talking to different people about it. I might easily find myself talking about the clues or suspected theory to friends, family, or my therapist even… and though one would think this might help (and it does occasionally) most often people take what I have to say at face value. Usually if I believe it, it isn’t totally unreasonable to suspect the people I tell will believe it as well.

There have been a few situations where I was contested about what I mentioned, but it wasn’t enough to “break the spell” until almost a month later. No, realistically what I’ve learned is that it is best to go straight to the source.

I had a delusion almost a year ago now that one of my friends was having an affair with another friend of mine. In that situation I knew I couldn’t completely trust myself and the conclusion I had come to, so I did the only thing I could… I confronted one of them and asked about it.

NOW, confronting someone you have a delusion about in an attempt to find the truth has been one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever had to do. In some cases it has actually been a bit rewarding (not having to continue obsessing over the delusion anymore is nice) but generally, you need to know that it really puts people off.

I’ve only done this sort of thing with people who are pretty close to me, people who already know about my (somewhat questionable) mental health. Even then, starting the conversation with something like, “so, I have a question for you, and I don’t want you to get upset because it is going to sound totally crazy -but that is only because I think I may be delusional. I just need to know what is real and what isn’t!”

Yes, people get offended. Or distraught. Or very silent.

(I guess this is starting to sound less and less like a good idea, but I swear it can be very helpful!)

The thing is, the way my brain functions, I need to be able to walk up to someone I trust and ask if something happened, or didn’t. If something exists, or it doesn’t. If they saw or heard something or if there was only silence a moment ago.

There are so many layers of things going on in my mind that sometimes I need to be able to ask if I’m the only one experiencing something, or if everyone else saw/heard/knows it too.

Though mildly concerning to the people I’ve asked of this before, the result on my end has been extremely helpful. By going straight to the person I’m having delusions about and asking them about the situation I am essentially bypassing days, week, maybe even months of delusional thoughts and “clues” that riddle my brain with no real point (apart from distraction), as well as averting potential crises (like setting a huge HR investigation in motion).

I’ve also had to consider what this does to my reputation. After all, it isn’t particularly common for people to be sharing their delusions (let alone confronting people about them) and it probably looks a little… weird. Since I embrace the fact that I’m a bit of an oddball, it doesn’t bother me much at all.

I guess the best advice I can give is to tread carefully.

No. Wait.

The best advice I can give is to have one person in your life that you can trust and be honest with who will tell you (gently) that you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you can find more than one, consider yourself very lucky!

Sometimes it is better to go straight to the source when it comes to delusions. If you can risk talking to the person about the delusional situation you could ultimately save yourself a lot of time and trouble down the road.

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5 responses to “Confronting Delusions

  1. I really feel for you. I only ever have delusions if I mix my meds with alcohol and it is terrible… I can’t imagine feeling like this at random or the threat of it happening at any time. You are a really brave individual. Hang in there, you inspire me.

  2. It is so wonderful that you can be honest with yourself about it, and tackle it as you see fit. I really really admire that.

    I had to break off a friendship some time back with someone who has bi-polar, and she did not understand or probably even recognise her delusions. She thought we were so much closer than what we were, like sisters when it could not be further from the truth. She crossed too many boundaries, and I did not understand why at the time.

  3. This rings so many bells for me. Only I never trust the answer I’m given unless I’m already in a good space. In which case I don’t need to ask the question. But then, later on down the line, I add up those clues again and they don’t make sense. Exhausting. And irritating for everyone around me. Thanks for this post.

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