Watching someone close to me struggling with a manic episode has brought back vivid memories of the days early in my own psychosis in 1997. After a week of incredibly high emotionality in which I seemed to be having all kinds of insights and understandings, I suddenly was thrown for a loop by the sensation that the entire universe was attempting to communicate with or perhaps control me. There seemed to be personal messages for me in every print ad, every TV show and ad, every billboard, every conversation. It was the eeriest thing I’d ever experienced. I seemed to be at the center of the universe. And words had multiple meanings, it seemed. They had their common everday meaning, then they had another meaning that seemed to be tied to their phonetic sound or their spelling. And I was constantly struggling to understand which of the various meanings I was supposed to apply at any given moment. I have come to understand that this is called “clang association”, a phenomenon in the manic state in which words are interpreted according to their phonetics instead of according to usual semantics. It makes life very confusing.
In that state of mind, everything is pregnant with meaningfulness and message for you….and seemingly for you alone. It’s a very megalomaniac state of being. I kept resisting that megalomania and would remind myself that I was no more important to the world or to God than anyone else and the impression that the whole world was bearing down on me for some expected action or knowledge was ridiculous. At some point in my mania, I had heard someone I trusted speak these words to me: “You are not Christ and you are not crazy.” Now whether they actually said those words or whether that, too, was an auditory hallucination, I do not know. I repeated that phrase to myself numerous times, in an attempt to shake the sense of destiny that carried with it such confusion.