My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Paranoia Hotline?

Is There an Impetus for Founding a Paranoia Hotline and/or Paranormal Institute?

*** Discussion includes talk of paranoia***

Another idea I have had along the lines of paranoia is in consideration of whether or not any aspects of paranoia are based on “the truth.”  What if my six-year-old child within has access to paranormal thoughts or heightened intuition like a blind person may have exceptional musical abilities?   What if other people with mood disorders or developmental disabilities have access to paranormal thoughts or heightened intuition?  What if there exist bits of truth, albeit highly fractured, that are hidden in paranoia?  Even if there is no paranormal thought pattern for behavioral health or developmental disabilities patients, what if we were able to develop a “Paranoia Hotline”?  People who have paranoid or paranormal (if they exist) thoughts would have a place to discharge and release or let go of these thoughts.

As an example, consider if 25 people call in with the same fear (this is a fictive example) that the water supply in Augusta is not safe.  The sheer number of people with the same paranoid thoughts may be enough to signal authorities that there is in fact some tangible threat to Augusta’s water that needs to be addressed. 

In this example, consider a man living in Minneapolis-Saint Paul who is telling his therapist that he envisions a strange color in the water in some US city.  Consider that three people in Boston call in with the fear that there is a strange odor coming from the Augusta water supply.  Consider two people in Newark call in reporting that Augusta is unsafe from terrorists.   Consider that one person has indicated a criminal who lives on East Woodland Road and is targeting the Augusta water supply.  Alone any one of these thoughts could be considered paranoia.  But putting these stories together possibly, possibly may mean there is an underlying element of “truth” to the paranoid perceptions.  Perhaps the threat to the Augusta water supply is clear in the aggregate of these reported thoughts in a way that would not be the case for any individual report of paranoia. If these paranoid perceptions have at their root a real concern or a real threat, perhaps that threat can be identified before harm sets in.  If this were to be the case that aggregate accounts of paranoia or paranormal thought allow crime prevention, a Paranormal Institute would more than pay for itself.    

This should be a “win-win” for everybody.  The behaviorally or developmentally ill have a place or a person specifically designed to listen to the dynamics of paranoid thoughts, review them or at a minimum unload them.  This creates a great sense of relief for the patient just in the downloading of the paranoid thought.  First Responders could create a database of all the reported paranoid thoughts and track their various data attributes.  If there were data trends in the data attributes, it may be that the information reported could prove helpful in preventing some sort of security threat or breach to society.   First Responders ideally might get more accurate and earlier aggregate data on various threats. 

Such a Paranormal Institute if found to be warranted may more than pay for itself in a matter of months or years.  The extra funding that may develop as part of this Institute could be designated to making the Cohort Model and Graduated Reentry Model discussed in an upcoming post a reality.  

Even if the data shows that there are no “paranormal” aspects to paranoia, such an institute may still be of use. The discharge and letting go of paranoid thoughts to a concerned party at a Paranoia Hotline may allow the patient relief from a life-threatening episode.  Even if my hopes of uncovering paranormal data trends from paranoia do not bear out, there still may be great value in a Paranoia Hotline. The Paranoia Hotline would ease the minds of the person reporting his or her paranoia.  Meanwhile First Responders may be provided extra time to assess and address what could be the precursor to a society-threatening event.   

All in all, I am not in a position to know if paranormal thoughts are a portion of what makes up paranoia.  I alone am not capable of making that assessment.  But, First Responders with a database of reported paranoia could readily research the data and make that determination.  Whether the data bears out for a Paranormal Institute or a Paranoia Hotline, either way the patient and society win.

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Intermixing with Police and First Responders

I am of the mindset that police and college campus police could do well with more training as to what constitutes a paranoid episode that is largely safe and what constitutes a paranoid episode that is largely unsafe.  I feel that the police serve in a hugely defining role as to whether someone experiencing an episode of bipolar illness should go the hospital or be incarcerated.  There is no such distinction for any other type of intervention that the police are called upon to mediate.  It takes a great amount of training about paranoia and how it operates particularly in the minds of our youth.  If psychiatrists are largely unable to determine when paranoia is linked with violence or not after days or months or years of working with that person, think what a challenge it is for a police man or woman intervening with no case history on the patient while being charged with the safety of that patient and all bystanders.  It is a huge responsibility that falls on the police and college police. 

I have worked through NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Health) in their In Our Own Voice Program to talk with these First Responders and provide more insight into the patient’s point of view when these incidents occur.  I found the reception at that event quite welcoming as if the police or campus police had never had a conversation with someone prone to paranoia when that person was outside of that paranoia event.

In any case, I find the work of police and campus police to be a gargantuan task.  It almost requires the intervening police officer to be all-knowing and to be able to size up the situation in a matter of minutes as to whether the person before them is paranoid and a danger to others or paranoid, a danger to themselves and needing hospitalization.  I feel that additional training in differentiating these behavioral health outcomes should be mandatory both for crisis interventionists as well as medical and clinical professionals.  As a person who has experienced mania and being a danger to self and perhaps others, I readily do not see a clear line for police to follow from which to determine how best to intervene.  If I am unclear on that intervention after 30 plus years of managing (or trying to) the illness, I would imagine most police and campus police feel that they are overwhelmed and alone as First Responders in assessing the case of a behavioral health incident.

I feel for the police and the campus police and their courage in this line of work and believe that greater training like that of NAMI’s In Our Own Voice Program is extremely important.  I had one first responder come up to me at that In Our Own Voice presentation and thank me.  The officer had never talked to someone with a tendency toward paranoia when they were not in a paranoid state.  All he had ever seen was the patient at the height of a paranoid event – he must have assumed through no fault of his own that that state of paranoia was the norm for that person rather than a state that comes and goes and can be managed for the most part through medications and talk therapy.   

The First Responders should have some sort of script that allows them to assess if the danger is being directed internally toward the patient or if the danger is more generalized to people external to the person experiencing the breach of reality.  I do not claim to have the content to that script in full, but my current thoughts about how questions for this script might go is something like what follows.  This script below should be vetted by a team of first responders, therapists, doctors and other professionals and is only a “strawman” from the point of view of one patient.

 I am going to ask you a series of 20 questions.  I would like for you to respond to each question to the best of your ability. OK, are you ready?  First question: 

          1) What is your name?

2) Are you a student here?

3) Are you feeling OK?

4) What is the date today?

5) Are you feeling suicidal?                

6) Have you ever felt this way before? 

7) Do you have a mood disorder illness?   Have you ever been hospitalized for a mood disorder?

8) Are you hearing voices?

9) What are the voices saying?

10) Are the voices asking you or telling you to harm yourself?

11) Are the voices asking you or telling you to hurt anyone else?

12) Do you have a weapon?  Are you intending to use it? 

13) Where did you get it?  Have you had it on you for several days or just a few hours?

14) How long has it been since you took a shower?

15) How long has it been since you had a full meal?

16) Have you been using any mind-altering, recreational or prescription drugs?

17) If so, what are they?

18) Do you feel safer now that the paramedics are here and we are talking?

19) Is there someone in particular you would like to talk to? Your parent? Your friend? Your psychiatrist? Your therapist?

20) What do you need to feel more calm?    

If there had been such a script available for use by First Responders at the West Ferry airport back in 1985, perhaps my first episode would not have been so cataclysmic.  Perhaps I would not have been plagued by security concerns for several years after this first episode if that episode had been less threatening and less dramatic. 

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Paranoid Thoughts and Depression

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. 

My Sojourn thru Bipolar Illness – Nothing in Common

My postpartum depression was off the charts.  It is impossible to relay in this text the gamut of emotional experiences I endured during the first four years’ of my daughter’s life.  Whatever you have heard about postpartum depression stop and multiply by ten.  My meds after fifteen years of being pretty therapeutic stopped working.  I was put on several new meds one after another with no clinical break-throughs. I would later come to understand that the anti-depressants that were augmenting my other meds were causing me to revert into full mania in a repeat pattern every four to six months.  The anti-depressant rather than helping me with the postpartum was catapulting me to the opposite extreme of mania.  This was mania like I had never before experienced.  There were times I felt that my medication had been laced with an illicit substance.  There were times when I felt like all members of my family were dead or in comas and on some sort of life support system overseas at the Swiss Hotel.  There were times when I was prompted to act in manners unsafe for my own well-being. 

Besides the anti-depressant issue which was huge and impactful to me on a daily basis, the overall upshot of this postpartum period was a huge sense of isolation and of fear.  How on earth could I carry on a discussion with other mothers about their child’s potty training or their child’s teething or their child’s pre-school years when I was obsessed by potential terrorist take-overs in the Himalayas? 

With a child in diapers, I and my thoughts were focused on the threat of a nuclear meltdown over the existing power grid, and the threat of nuclear water contamination east of the Mississippi and the threat of terrorists living their daily lives among us.  Thoughts of national security consumed me on a daily basis.  What’s more is that these thoughts of national security also prevented me from being a Mom and talking to other Moms about their kid or their kids.

I felt unable to connect with other young mothers largely because my thoughts continued to soar toward global safety and security in full-blown paranoia.   At one point, I imagined that the United States was undergoing a Civil War and had to address some Constitutionality gap and it was up to me to help do that.  At another instance, I believed that my husband was being cloned at his place of work and it was up to me to stop the cloning.  At another instance, I believed that I or friends and relatives were being cloned at the hand of terrorists.  At another instance, I believed that Lithium was the cure for HIV/AIDS.  At another instance, I believed my brain was implanted with a computer device that was controlled by terrorists or those who were seeking vengeance on me and my family.  At another instance, I believed that I was engaged in some sort of computer “fight-off” where I had to survive some form of computerized attack.  At another instance, I believed that my sister (and not myself) had brain damage from an accident sustained as a child and this somehow made her, and not myself, responsible for my symptoms.  These thoughts and obsessions and paranoid delusions made it nearly impossible to maintain family relations or to develop peer connections surrounding motherhood and being a Mom.  It also kept me feeling isolated in relationships including my relationships with my husband, my rapidly growing up daughter and just about every other person in my family.

In many ways all these fears left me unable to connect to my daughter’s peers and peers’ parents in the first 2 to 4 years of my daughter’s life.  Even today, I have to remind myself of the role of un-therapeutic meds during this extremely vulnerable time.  The use of anti-depressants given my bipolar condition was a huge mistake and one for which my family and I paid the price.  

My Sojourn Through Bipolar Illness – Smelling Like a Dog

The idea of paranormal thought and healing was referenced in a book suggested to me by a friend from college, also a Medical Doctor, about twenty years ago.  The book called The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot [1] suggests that paranormal thought and healing may be more common than we realize.  This is a tricky insight, but I think one that is worth exploring.

Consider thought as if it were on a continuum from normal logical thought on one extreme to paranoid thought on the other extreme.  Where would we place the thoughts of autistic people who are on the spectrum and able to compute incredible math equations or know any date in time without any degree of difficulty?   What if every person with bipolar illness or a behavioral health disorder has or had an autistic or quasi-autistic child within?  What might be needed to give room to this quasi-autistic child within to develop and gain confidence to move forward in life with the accompanying adult?  What if the adult with bipolar illness or a behavioral health challenge could regain health by honoring this quasi-autistic child and his/her inherent fragility?  Perhaps if the quasi-autistic child within had an audience who listened to these fragile thoughts, communication exchange might be able to occur before thoughts reach the other end of the spectrum at paranoia? Perhaps if the child within is acknowledged for having some extra set of insights, care givers might recognize those abilities and acknowledge them, perhaps stopping the paranoid thought process before it occurs. This is a hugely large question and one that requires behavioral health scientists to review and explore and evaluate.

I talk about this “paranormal thought” in terms of a dog’s abilities to smell or to hear because we readily accept that a dog can smell and hear things that we don’t smell and hear.  However, it is much more difficult for us to believe that some of us humans may see or hear things beyond that of a “regular” person or differently from a “regular” person much like a blind person may have a corresponding enhanced musical ability.  For every disability might there be a corresponding ability? The paranormal thought process may also be linked to the age of my inner child who for these purposes may be about six years old – more discussion on that later.

Shortly after reading The Holographic Universe, I wrote a letter to physicist David Bohm requesting that a study be performed that looked at human perceptions of time, including circular time (the world of dreams) and linear time (the world of events).   I had no idea that David Bohm was deceased when I wrote that letter to him in the mid-1990s but have felt and continue to feel over the years that work in quantum physics and work in paranormal thought are somehow intrinsically linked.  Matter and anti-matter may correlate loosely to real time and to dream time.  

Recently in the past few years I have come to understand my six-year-old child within through these lenses.  I feel that I must learn to listen to what this child has to say or what she is feeling.  I feel that by listening to this child I may be able to connect to the child and the vulnerability before my thoughts have migrated to full-blown paranoia.  This is an extremely important but difficult path.  There is a huge amount of research out there about honoring the child within.  However, there is not a lot of research out there about how honoring extra-sensory perceptions or thought patterns may help quell or disperse or render neutral paranoid thoughts and paranoid perceptions. In addition to dispersing paranoid thought before it begins, this approach may potentially shed light on some insights that are down the scale from logical thought but not at the other end of paranoid thought either.

During the past few years as I have been locating and holding up that six-year-old child, I have felt extraordinarily vulnerable, prone to having extreme bouts of tears as past fears have come unglued.  During this time of elevating this child of six, I have sought more frequent meetings with my therapist in terms of translating this new dynamic of an elevated inner child to everyday realities of a job search, helping my sixteen-year-old child with homework, getting a healthy dinner on the table, taking and managing meds, getting an exercise regime established and managing moods in general.

Quite late in my own emotional development, I have concluded that this six-year-old child may have certain insights beyond normal sensory perception.  The challenge now is to find the means and wherewithal to listen to that child within rather than minimize that child’s “doglike” abilities.  The impetus in this world is to discount any sort of extra sensory perceptions we may have (that that child may have) in preference for logic and all things explainable through reason in this world.  So far, it is clear that as a society we value perceptions that are logical and shun perceptions that may arise through intuition or some alternate form of perception not related to logic. 

I call this type of intuition or perception “unknowledge” or “illogical communication” or “ecological communication.”  We don’t expect nature or feelings to follow the linear laws of logic.  We expect nature to follow cycles and courses of development that are multi-dimensional and cyclical.  It follows that some of us, perhaps those with a bipolar or other mood disorder diagnoses, have trains of thought that are ecologically informed rather than logically informed.  Perhaps a lack of reason may not necessarily be a bad thing if we can tease out the dangerous components that are correlated with paranoia before they can even exist or present. Perhaps if we catch illogical and ecological thought at the onset before connections to paranoid perceptions, this illogical and ecological thought can provide insights and awareness that the logical mind cannot perceive.


[1] Talbot, Michael,  The Holographic Universe, copyright 1991 by Michael Talbot (Harper Collins Publishers: New York, NY). “Chapter 6: Seeing Holographically:” pp 162-193.