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Prologue

Prologue to the first-person account of my acute psychotic-episode

This is something that has waited a long time to be done. Twenty-three years is a long time for it to wait, but recently the task has seemed more urgent. I am going to run through honestly what I remember doing in the seven days from Thursday, 15 January 1998. That is my episode at its greatest impact—on me and others—and it comprises my ‘brick wall.’ Keep in mind that I had experienced a build-up of years. (Perhaps in another series I will treat in a similar way of incidents from that developmental or prodromal period.) I am also going to include what I remember thinking at the time, i.e., what my beliefs were. The result, I hope, will be an uncommon and fascinating first-person account of a very severe—in fact, a catastrophic—example of mental illness. The whole episode of several days will be reduced to a sequence of vignettes, not unlike the storyboarding of a motion picture.

But before I begin, can someone who is completely ‘off his head’ (i.e., psychotic) and causing high-grade mayhem be aware of what he is doing, let alone remember his actions and concurrent thoughts? Some have doubted these abilities to my face, which I quietly found insulting. Sick as I was, all of my senses remained active. Once, soon after the episode, I referred to one of my crazed antics in conversation with a witness—a family member I think—who inquired, ‘Who told you about that?’ To which I answered, ‘No-one told me; I remember doing it.’ Indeed, the bulk of my episode is still in my memory and has been waiting patiently to be expressed. Therefore, this first-person account will be the rare and detailed snapshot of a state of mind that drove me to act in a wide variety of disordered ways in January 1998.

By Stephen Plustwik

'In the face of all my foes I am a reproach, an object of scorn to my neighbours and of fear to my friends. Those who see me in the street run far away from me. I am like a dead man, forgotten in men's hearts, like a thing thrown away.'—Psalm 31[30]:12–13 (Grail).