Just because I have been able to hold a good job (at times) and have married successfully and had a child in no way shape or form means I have been immune from paranoid thoughts, depressive thoughts, anxiety or mania. My illness over the years includes acute paranoia that I have had to process or let go of and get past.
My first episode at the West Ferry airport is a case in point. In addition to that mania and paranoia I have believed that I could see some terrorists in the Himalayas who had two “broken arrows” pointed at the US specifically at Washington, DC. I have felt that I could see the boot camp of these terrorists as well as know the path that got them to their hide-out and the code associated with both of the bombs at their disposal. I have envisioned the recovery of these weapons from such a terrorist camp via a team of highly trained military personnel and their dogs.
The day the Challenger exploded, I was in a complete state of paranoia. I was on the train from Chicago back to my college campus and believed the conductor was signaling me to exit the train. I got off in an unknown location and started hitch-hiking down icy back roads in the pitch black of night with snow and frozen ice all around. At some point I ended up on Interstate 400 going North. I believed I was conducting the cars in various colors in a symphony along the highway. I must have been in the middle of the interstate when a trucker named Bill picked me up on the highway and took me to a nearby exit from the highway where by some turn of fate I ended up at the police station. I remember that the Challenger had exploded and that I felt somehow responsible for this. I kept repeating that “I have a dream….” like Martin Luther King but instead of stating it I was screaming it over and over as if it were more a nightmare that I had instead of a dream… Thanks to the police, I ended up back at the hospital on campus.
In addition, I later came to believe that I was a master code-breaker for bombs and machines that had been constructed by the military. I believed that I was able to isolate code line by line that had been altered by terrorists and to communicate those lines of code to the military so that the code could be disengaged.
In addition, I came to believe that HIV was becoming a food-borne illness in need of early intervention and that a nuclear meltdown had been grossly underestimated by the military establishment — that the whole electric grid was liable to go up in smoke within minutes considering the griddle like effect that the grid provides its ability to relay power between destinations within seconds.
In the early months of the postpartum period, I believed that three men from Eastern Europe had immigrated to Canada in order to migrate from Canada to the US as Canadian citizens. I believed that these three men were planning a “nuclear accident” somewhere in New Hampshire such that the entire watershed East of the Mississippi would be unpotable and contaminated with nuclear waste.
Almost all of my paranoid thoughts have involved feelings of unsafety. Whether around the corner at a neighbor’s house or on the international nuclear war stage, I can get easily paranoid about human safety. Could these issues of safety be tied to the fact that I was not safe as a six-year-old child? Probably so – more work is needed.
This tendency toward thoughts of safety more than likely dates back to my first episode in the snow at the West Ferry airport. When I allowed my fears about safety to be expressed, I was treated as a criminal and as someone who was unsafe. If my fears had somehow been allowed to be conveyed to friends, family, an airport personnel or even a passer-by, perhaps the reaction to my fears might not have been so dramatic. Even more compelling, if my fears of flying had been addressed in the airport with airport personnel in a way that they could understand, I may have been able to avoid what became years of preoccupation with fear and safety. Instead of them seeing me as a threat to self and others, perhaps they would have been able to request I be moved directly to a hospital setting rather than being arrested and handcuffed and locked to the door of a police vehicle with flashing blue lights.