I'm in the market for a tinfoil hat...
Posted by indigoglow
6th Apr 2013

As someone diagnosed with Schizophrenia I have a lot on my mind at any one time. I don't really proscribe to the diagnosis but rather like to think I'm working my way through a very complex PhD funded by the European Space Agency. My PhD seems to be one concentrating on the study of paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.

I'm often reminded that what happens in my reality may be unique and may not relate to consensus reality. The emotional turmoil that comes with denying individual experience or external stigmatisation of our perception can be profound.

My PhD provided much comfort around issues that were personally troubling to me. Diagnosis medication and therapy was one of the most damaging processes in my life as it dis-empowered me and robbed me of my insight. Paranoia hallucinations and delusions are self perpetuating and have their own feedback loop of reinforcement. This doesn't mean that our emotions and feelings around issues raised by them aren't very real.

Luckily most of my PhD is centred around positive insight. As I think my thoughts were being projected for others to "hear" no matter what reinforcement I get from my own senses it takes someone else's confirmation of what is happening for me to design my tinfoil hat.

I quite like the thought of having the power to project thoughts as I don't have much to hide. Assuming that I did it would mean a grand conspiracy or collective policy of non engagement from everyone I had met. Being out of the loop in this fashion is rather upsetting, you don't want all of your friends to withhold such vital information.

This also creates the problem that I can't begin to test my tinfoil hat as no one will give me feedback on it's effectiveness. My own private feedback loop of paranoia, hallucination and delusion keeps my ESP always just beyond reach as an independently verifiable fact. So I'm stuck without external validation for my extra sensory perception while my internal world won't give up the notion.

I have my sketchbooks and my poetry where I try to document my experiences but the PhD feedback loop seems to know me inside out and keeps on taking me on interesting journeys of thought. Having a sense of humour is vitally important. For all the validation the feedback loop provides it's important to remember that my experience of the world is as valid as anyone else's even without external validation.

Grounding myself is important but to what, what do we have in this world except the values we live by? Understanding that people may never relate to my experience of life is worrying but maybe it can be empowering. Maybe I'm the only person to have experienced life in this way. When did we really expect all of humanity to be a conformist grey goo? We have differing views in religion and competing ideas in science no two lives are ever the same. Personal realities should have a power in themselves greater than that of consensus reality, we can't all seem to agree anyway.

Attaining a balance between consensus reality and personal experience is vital. You should never disown your own past experiences even if they are unverifiable. We exist only in as much as we can care for and nourish our experience of life. If parts of that experience fall outside the scope of consensus then so be it, you are an explorer!

Taking our experience of reality as a challenge to navigate and make sense of can be empowering. We all need coping mechanisms that work for us and these may not be ones that work for everybody. We have to learn to express our experience and begin to unpick the knots we tie ourselves in. We should never be in fear of articulating our reality. One of the reasons our inner worlds can get so complex is because we don't clearly communicate our emotions, needs and desires

Everyone may laugh at my desire for a working tin foil hat. I would like to take a prototype into testing in the near future, but sadly I have no one willing to come forward to validate my "abilities". In the meantime I look at the mountain of busy work my PhD has created and wonder to myself if I really have what it takes to go into space, ESA funding is dwindling with coalition cuts and austerity biting hard and I seem to be no closer to a sustainable and alternative model of employment. I hope making ends meet is never a serious problem and that maybe one day the challenges I face won't be seen as unnecessary burdens but rather as sources of pride and inspiration. As for my abilities, I hope someone will validate my achievements and realise my potential. A PhD is hard work and as mine is entirely fictitious I may have nothing to show for it.

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