This is an account of one of my psychotic episodes, the worst one, the last one <knock on wood>. I wrote this in allegory as it was easier to express myself and describe the episode in that form. "The Gardener" is me the person. "The Garden" is my subconscious brain. The Mind is what small portion of my conscious mind that was left. "The Outer Existence" is life. "Garden Kin" are family and "horticulturist" my psychologist. "The Inferno" is the psychosis. Wildfire seemed the best metaphor for the force that took over my mind that night. "The Force" is the commands that the psychosis gives one to act upon.
While by far the worst episode this was only one of perhaps a dozen or more that I survived within roughly a two year period spanning 2011 and 2012.
The Gardener was tired. Tired of fighting his Garden, tired of the fighting others had done for his Garden, tired of the fighting of others over his Garden, tired of trying to navigate his Garden through the Outer Existence and among other Gardeners. He looked around at the Garden around him. It was an utter chaos of overgrown and ratty looking growth. He hated how the Garden looked, HIS Garden, but he hadn't the strength nor the desire to deal with it any longer. It was, he decided, what it was. The fight had been long and he'd had enough. He lay himself down in the middle of this chaos and made peace with it and himself. He would fight no more.
December 28th, 2012, approximately 11:30 pm
The Gardener, despite the Difficulties, had made it through the toughest of the annual rituals of the Outer Existence. His special horticulturist and he had discussed this prior, had made some strategies for handling it, and the Garden and the Gardener had held together admirably. The Ritual had gone well in part because of a bonus from an unexpected source which allowed the Gardener to better adhere to the Rites expected during the time of the Ritual. This had pleased him greatly and the gifts he bore were received well by his Gardener Kin. This pleased him even more. Socializing during the Ritual had gone better than expected as well and the Gardener managed to put on display some of the better aspects of his Garden. The Gardener gave himself good credit for having handled this often difficult time with relative aplomb.
However, there were other aspects of dealing with the demands of the Outer Existence that had not gone well at this time and this weighed heavily on the Mind of the Gardener. The Gardener was used to this but still it bothered him. On the whole, though, things were not bad. This is how the Gardener felt as he went to bed at about 11:30 pm on the night of December 28th, in the year 2012. His mood was neither this way or that, it was a balance of satisfaction and tension as it is with most Gardeners in the Outer Existence.
Not long after lying down and closing his eyes with the intention of going to sleep and being ready to face the next day, the Gardener recognized a familiar energy field within his Garden which he knew from experience would make sleep difficult in coming. But the Gardener had long developed techniques for this and was not worried. He followed his techniques for a period of time but noticed that the energy field was getting stronger. He knew this was not good and were the first signs of possible danger but he continued his techniques with relative calm.
The attempts to diminish the energy field and go to sleep had gone on for perhaps fifteen minutes when it happened – the energy field sparked and a part of the Garden burst into flames, flames that the Gardener knew from experience could be very dangerous. Though he was very familiar with sudden bursts of flame like this, the Gardener was caught by surprise. He had been free from such outbursts of flame for at least four months and had assumed that such episodes of inner fire were behind him. This assumption and the surprise he felt were to be costly.
Taken by surprise, the Gardener entered a state of slight panic. Sensing this panic, the flames lept higher still. The Gardener knew from much prior experience with inner fires like this that his technique of breathing would no longer work against flames like this. For a while, it's hard to tell how long, he did nothing but watch the flames grow in a kind of stunned astonishment and awe. Within the flames, which were rapidly becoming an Inferno, there appeared images, very unpleasant frightening images. The Gardener was familiar with these as well and now knew that he had a real fight on his hands. The images were graphic scenes of self-harm, scenes of slashing knives and gushing blood. Scenes begot panic and panic begot scenes. He attempted to choke down his panic but this was becoming harder. As much as he attempted to remain calm and not panic, the Gardener instinctively knew that he was in serious danger. Not just any danger, but in danger of leaving the Outer Existence.
The Gardener was not unused to grave danger in the Outer Existence. He had faced a five ton log bearing down on him with the speed and force of a freeway truck and had not felt fear. He had lost control of his motorcycle on a patch of glare ice and skidded towards a two thousand foot sheer cliff and had not felt fear. He had faced many other such dangers in the Outer Existence and had barely ever experienced fear. You could say that this Gardener had been fearless against danger in the Outer Existence. But in the Garden of his Mind, danger was different. Danger within is much more terrifying than danger on the Outside. Danger on the Inside was inescapable.
The Inferno was growing in intensity and the images were becoming more graphic and horrifying. There was no way to shut them out when they got this intense and graphic. The Gardener knew at this point that the Force of the Inferno was in control of his Garden now and thus in control of what he experienced. Still, he had some tricks up his sleeve. He hadn't survived many similar prior Infernos for nothing. But for some reason the Gardener hesitated too long to use them. This hesitation too would be costly. The Inferno was taking more and more control of the Garden – and worse, of the Gardener's Mind. His panic was becoming palatable now. This only fed the flames of the growing Inferno.
Desperate, he finally played his trump card. Producing in his Mind an image of his Garden Kin had always been effective before in warding off the Force of the Inferno. This Garden Kin was in fact a co-product of the Gardener's own Garden and was more important to him than anything in the Outer Existence. He had taken to calling this Garden Kin his Amulet. The Amulet had never failed before. Never. NEVER. He tried now to produce a powerful enough image of the Amulet in his Mind. The image was weak. He tried harder and harder and harder. Finally, he put forward the best and strongest image of his Amulet that he could. The Inferno consumed it like it was paper. Further efforts to produce another image produced nothing. The Inferno instead seemed to feed off his efforts and grow yet more intense. His number one weapon against the Force of the Inferno had been destroyed like tissue paper. He had never before been in this territory of Inner Inferno. The Gardener now knew that he was in graver danger than ever before.
Fear is the Garden's way of sensing danger in the Outer Existence. This is true of almost all species that exist in the Outer Existence. In a case of fear, the Garden will release, from a special hidden part of the Garden, a special substance that is designed to give the Garden's outer shape and structure the energy to escape. This substance is designed to be used for no more than a few minutes at a time and only in certain situations. Now was not one of those situations. For the danger was not external but internal and thus inescapable. Because one cannot escape the source of the fear, the “valve” for this substance thus gets “stuck” in the “open” position and floods the Garden with this substance. In short bursts this substance is life saving but when it can't be shut off it is toxic. This life saving substance thus tragically becomes like jet fuel for the Inferno. This is what was happening now.
The Gardener was in the full grips of panic and terror now, inescapable terror and panic. It was all well, well past anything the Gardener had ever experienced or dealt with before. Still, he did not give up. He tried producing images of his other Gardener Kin. These too, however, were consumed by the Force of the Inferno with terrifying ease.
The Gardener had trained himself before during times like this not to move. This had been a critical tool in his arsenal before. Ironically, this tool would now work against him. At this point, the Gardener knew – with what little bit of control he had left in his Mind – that he had to make contact with someone, ANYONE, from the Outer Existence if he were to stay a part of the Outer Existence, if he did not want to pass over to the Dark Side. But very the same training that had prevented him from acting on the demands of the Inferno before – horrible demands of self harm and self termination attempts – now prevented him from reaching for the communication devices that would connect him to a vital lifeline in the Outer Existence.
All contact with the Outer Existence was now cut off. The Gardener now was in extremely grave danger and he knew it. He was now completely surrounded by the Inferno, the Inferno had now completely taken over his Garden. The Force of the Inferno was now in complete control. The Gardener's Mind and Garden were now merging, merging to within complete control of the Force of the Inferno.
This had gone on for perhaps ninety minutes. This was not, by the way, a “dream”. This is far, far worse than any dream and the Gardener is awake throughout it. One cannot, therefore, escape this terror by awakening. It is truly inescapable. And to get up to move could prove fatal as well with such Force in control. Any movement whatsoever could start a cascade of movements towards fatal self-action. And this inner waking terror was about to get worse.
Now the Gardener felt strapped in to something like a roller coaster or a train, a roller coaster or train over which the Gardener had no control whatsoever. The Train, we'll call it, took off and built speed. Within a tiny sliver of his Mind, the Gardener knew from experience what these out of control “Train Rides” could be like and was filled with panic and terror at the prospect of what was coming. He was beginning to feel physically ill. The Train took off at frightening speed through tunnels of darkness. On the walls of these tunnels were more scenes of the Gardener's Past, scenes of misdeeds, errors, and harm done to others. The scenes were moving and showed faces contorted in pain. Some of the faces screamed at him but the Train was moving too fast for him to hear what they were saying. All his worst decisions in Life in the Outer Existence were played out for him in the worst possible light. Even the Good Memories were recast in grotesque, horrible light. The Gardener could not help but see them in this light. There was nothing else now. Only this tunnel of terror. He had access to nothing else in his Garden or in his Mind. Time was immeasurable at this point. This runaway freight train through these tunnels of terror went on for it's hard to say how long.
Next came the Future. The Gardener was terrified of his Future in the Outer Existence and now the Train took him through other scenes of his Future. This was not hard. It was more or less his past projected forward. Again, the Train moved at horrifying speed and the images came at him by the dozens and dozens. All scenes of continued ineptitude and failure and pain, pain and failure and ineptitude. The scenes made clear that the Outer Existence and the Gardener's Gardener Kin would all be better off without the Gardener and his Garden. The Gardener felt nor could see any reason to disagree.
It was time to come back to the Present – and What to Do.
The Train now took off through tunnels of another Darkness, a Darkness that was the deepest depths of Hell in a Garden and its Mind. The Gardener, strapped in against his Will, had no choice but to watch what was to follow.
Somewhere through these tunnels, the Train took the Gardener through scenes of terminating the lives of his Gardener Kin. Somehow it made sense at this point to end the lives of those closest to him in his life as well in order to end the suffering that the Gardener had inflicted on them. Horrific, horrific and graphic scenes of mutilation and blood and the dying gasps of his most precious Gardener Kin were played out in the Gardener's Mind's eye. Somehow, he knows not how, he fought past this.
The scenes now elevated to a new level of graphic reality and intensity. Scenes of a kitchen and a knife slashed across the throat and gushing blood. This scene was from both the perspective of the eye of the Gardener and from above, as if the Gardener is floating over the scene. The Force discarded this scenario as too likely to be discovered. Following was a scene of swallowing bottles of pills made of chemicals, ironically the very chemicals “designed” to “save” the Gardener's Garden. This too was discarded as the possibility of being ineffective was too high and not worth the risk. The scene then switched to the railroad bridge that was a few minutes walk away. The scene showed the Gardener climbing the rail and waiting for a train to jump in front of. This scene held great appeal as survival of this action seemed highly unlikely. But the scene became complicated and bystanders intervened. This was not good either.
This was all new to the Gardener's Mind. Before the sense of discovery had always connected the Gardener's Mind back to the reality of the Outer Existence and his Gardener Kin. But not now. The scenes of mutilating and killing his Gardener Kin and the distaste for discovery and intervention completely cut the Gardener off from any sense of reality of the Outer Existence and of staying within it. The Gardener now knew that the Train only had one destination now – termination. And the Gardener's Mind was losing fear.
The Force of the Train and of the Inferno were growing impatient and were growing in power. Fuck it, the Force decided. All these other methods were chicken shit bullshit. What was really needed was a gun. The best tool would be a gun. More graphic bloody scenes were played in the Mind's eye of gun blasts and exploding skull, again from the perspective of the Mind's eye and of looking at it from different outer perspectives. There was no pain experienced, only relief. Yes, it was decided, this was the way to go. Now, where to get a gun? The Force furiously tore through possibilities. There was no gun of course in the house of the Gardener. But the Gardener knew where to get them. It was a bit far and would require a bit of a wait but It knew where to get guns. Scenes of this played out in the Gardener's Mind. And something else was happening at this point. The Force and the Mind were coming closer and closer together. Danger, though more dangerous than ever before, was becoming not danger. It was becoming pure desire. The Mind was becoming complicit with the Force. The Mind was not only yielding to the Force but joining forces with it.
It was perhaps because of this that the Mind and Force rejected guns. The Mind still held onto something from the Outer Existence and that something could not lay the guilt of death onto the soul of another Gardner's Mind and Conscious, especially that of a Gardener Kin. Guns were thus ultimately rejected.
The Force was furious now. Beyond furious. It tore into the Mind to come up with something. The Mind had an answer though, an answer it came up with surprisingly quick. Rope. The Mind knew where there was a suitable length of rope. The Force responded with glee. Yes, this was the answer. The Force and Mind were in complete agreement now.
All fear left the Gardener and his Mind. All panic left. The Inferno was all around, consuming everything but the flames were dying as it was destroying the materials of the Garden but the Gardener no longer felt fear. By now about three hours had passed.
The Mind now thought of what to do. Not the Force, but the Mind. The Force still provided clear graphic images to act on but the Mind was in complete thought as to following along. The first images were of scenes inside the house but two things quickly became clear; one, there was nowhere in the house that provided a suitable anchor point for the rope nor enough room to swing and two, of course the danger of discovery was too high. The house would not do. No problem, where else? The Mind calmly thought through of where to go.
Working calmly and quickly, the Mind soon thought of a perfect place. The Gardener had spent much time in a nearby forest in happier times. It was among his favourite nearby places. It was Perfect. The forest was like a Garden of the Outer Existence and would be the Perfect peaceful place for the Gardner to exit the Outer Existence. The Force provided the imagination of the Mind with more graphic images, precise and well planned images of every necessary step. The imagination of the Mind and the images of the Force were one and the same now. They worked in concert. In the Mind's eye, it was seen where to get the rope, how to tie the rope, where the keys to the car were, the path to the car, the route to the forest, the path through the forest and the Perfect Tree. Every step of throwing the noose over the perfect branch and securing it to a fallen log were gone over in precise and exact detail. The positioning of the noose, the step onto the high log and the push off the log all played out in perfect graphic detail. And then – Nirvana. All the pain would end. The Infernos would come no more. The Garden would be no more. The hell of the Outer Existence would be no more.
It was time.
The flames now were dying away. All that was left was cinders and ash and small licks of flame here and there. The Garden was destroyed, among the ashes was the Gardener lying prone and peaceful among the ashes, his body consumed by the last of the flames, his own body becoming ashes itself.
Nearby was Death's Door. The Mind went over to it and knocked.
I did not, obviously, go through the Door that night. But I can't, and experts agree, imagine coming any closer in one's mind. There are a few interesting reasons that I theorize why I did not go through the Door as I was being compelled by the force of psychosis to do. Which will have to wait for another time.