The New Normal
One of my dear friends, when dealing with her own psychosis told me, “This is my new normal.”
I now have a new normal too.
In reality, each second any of the life we live is a new normal.
It just depends on how you want to look at life and what is happening as you live it.
I had been working as an psychotherapist at an international medical clinic in Beijing, China.
It was a stressful job and I was dealing with a lot of people who had moved there primarily for their jobs. They had to adjust to a new location, a new culture and a new way of life.
They had to adjust to their own new normal.
I did my best to give them support and help them figure out their options in what could be a very difficult time in their lives.
At the same time, I was having my own new normal and as I tried to adjust to a very difficult situation in my life.
Jill and I had only met a few days before I moved to China and she gave up her life to move to Beijing, live with a man she hardly knew, and see what could be possible.
Talk about a new normal. Jill is the living embodiment of a new normal. She constantly travels, owns her own online business, and chooses to live a life very different from most others.
Since we both love adventure, I quit my job and we decided to leave China in December of 2015. Since then, we have been traveling the world, making our living on our websites, and seeing what is possible in our lives.
We had a “new” new normal.
This way of life sounds like it is magical, care free and perfect. It is but it is still very hard work.
Jill works about 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week, on SF Tourism Tips. We both work a few hours a day on www.DreamExploreInspire.com.
We love our jobs being entrepreneurs but it is a lot of work and can take a lot of time if you aren’t able to plan and stay focused on your goals.
Because of our posts and pictures on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, people think we only relax, hang out, and live the bon vivant life. We work very hard to make this life look easy so that people can start to think of a different life for themselves and not be afraid to change. In reality, as we build our businesses, we are working a lot of hours and sometimes on weekends.
Like I wrote before, it takes a lot of effort to make your own business work. We wouldn’t have it any other way as we’ve both worked in corporate jobs and found them stifling and mundane.
Psychosis and the New Normal
Our new normal started about 3 months before we left China.
I started having black outs and some strange hallucinations.
They’d only last for a few minutes and I felt like I was another person. I’d have thoughts that invisible people were trying to give me instructions or that I had to save them. It is hard to adequately describe in words since the voices were only hallucinations but they seemed to be absolutely real.
The first time it happened, Jill and I were walking in Beijing and I looked up at the bright yellow sun. This seemed to trigger a black out and I thought to myself that I needed to turn around, walk the other way, and I could not talk to Jill since my mind told me that it would cause some type of catastrophe.
I’m a firm believer in client confidentially and Jill knows that if I abruptly turn and walk away, it is probably because I’ve seen a client. Therefore, when I turned around and walked away, she thought that I had seen a client and just followed me. As we walked, she asked a few simple questions. My mind was still telling me that I can’t talk to her, all I could do was shrug my shoulders, raise my eyebrows, and keep on walking.
This continued for a very, very long Beijing block.
As we got to the end of the block, I turned around, started talking to Jill and she realized that something was very wrong. She asked what I remembered and I had no idea what she was talking about. After about 10 minutes , I started to remember and we discussed what had happened.
Since I’ve worked with psychotic clients, and know the symptoms, I was quite anxious that my mind was “breaking.” Jill was understandably tearful and afraid.
We ended up continuing to our friends’ restaurant, ate dinner, went home and had a very difficult night.
After working with many clients who have had psychosis, I now had an understanding of how terrifying, lonely, and hopeless it is to have your mind lose touch with reality.
I’m thankful Jill was there to ground me.
We hoped this would be a onetime thing but about 6 weeks later, the black outs, and hallucinations, happened again. We talked to a doctor who works at my clinic and he guessed it could be seizures or it could something that never happens again.
If things worked out for the best, it would never happen again.
When we went back to the USA, my brain seemed to calm down. About 6 weeks later, they hit again. I had gone to a Cuban salsa dancing festival and had stayed up late for a few days in a row. I also had been eating a lot of junk food and hadn’t been hydrating well.
The black outs started to hit and so did the hallucinations. Not only that, they started coming more often.
At one point, I didn’t sleep for 3 days straight. I started having psychotic visions and paranoia.
Because the delusions, and hallucinations were so overwhelming, Jill took me to the nearest hospitals ER twice in one day.
The second time we went to the ER, they realized what was happening and gave me medication to help with the mania. Afterward, I slept for 30 hours straight and the black out and hallucinations ended.
After talking to a neurologist, we found out that the problems were caused by seizures.
The Car, and My Brain, Crash
I had been involved in a car crash, when I was 4 years old, and had two different brains surgeries.
I had a few seizures when I was younger but had been fine for the rest of my teenage and adult life. They seemed to have gone away, never to return.
After decades without seizures, they have returned, and with a vengeance.
My new normal was seizures occurring about every 6-8, causing delusions and hallucinations, and then me figuring out what is real and, at the same time, who I am for the week or so afterwards. It felt like I was just a ghost and my reality wasn’t solid.
My brain told me that other people weren’t real and that nothing mattered.
My new normal was terrifying and extremely lonely. No matter how Jill, or anyone else, tried to help me reconnect to reality. It all seemed like a movie playing itself out in front of my eyes. Nothing I did made a difference and I just followed a script.
At the same time, we were moving around and staying with friends as we didn’t have a home to call our own.
Jill was trying to work while taking care of me, we were trying to figure out how we’d live, and even where we’d live. We thought we may have to rethink all our plans if the seizures increased and my ability to be independent became even more impaired.
Fortunately, we both have fantastic families and they did everything they could to support us in this difficult time.
After staying with different family members, we ended up living in Mexico for a month.
Taking that chance helped us see what we can do to live the life we want and not be bound to a fearful existence. I actually had another round of seizures while we were there and that helped us realize we are much more resilient than we even thought.
There seemed to be some casual factors: dehydration, altitude, and lack of sleep. This may sound obvious but it took us a lot of trial and error to figure it out.
At this time, we are continuing our dreams of traveling the world and living the life want to live. Knowing my triggers is vital knowledge and we will continue to figure out how to control them. I’m taking medications to help alleviate the problem and will take them as long as I have to, even if I don’t like it.
I don’t want to become psychotic again and I never want to put Jill through that stress again.
I definitely don’t want to deal with those horrible feelings of not being able to connect to reality.
Part of building this website is that we want to help others that want to live a life of travel, adventure and excitement.
We want to help them figure out how to deal with problems like these and not let the problems stop their dream life.
It takes time, planning and work, but it is worth it.
We still have problems, and tough times, but that is now our normal. How did you overcome the psychosis and continue to live your life?
Here are some thoughts to ponder and, if you want, post the answers in the comment section below.
- If you’ve ever had psychosis, what did you do/what are you doing to over come it?
- What is your new normal and how would you like to change or improve it?
- If not yourself, do you know anyone who has gone through psychosis, delusions or hallucinations?
- Has this article helped you change your view on people that have psychosis? How and why?
- Has this article given you ideas of how to deal with people with psychosis?
- If you have had psychosis and what was it like for you? Your family? Your friends?
- How did you overcome the psychosis and continue to live your life?
You might you might enjoy:
The Costs and Benefits of Choices
Every 6 Weeks the Seizures Come and Go
Understanding the Difference Between Needs and Wants