296.24 Major Depressive Disorder - Atypical with Psychotic Features

Refer to: atypical depression for the background. It makes a kind of sense that if depression continues for a very long time without relief or release, eventually additional symptoms may be acquired. In early 2005 I began to experience nonbizarre delusions which continued (approximately) until late 2008.

Criteria for delusion as defined by psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers in his 1917 book General Psychopathology:

(1) certainty (held with absolute conviction)
(2) incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary)
(3) impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)

I did not experience certainty, and I did have to admit that the most likely explanation was that I had the need to create an imaginary companion, but over time I have still felt it difficult to shake off the idea that I am being observed, although I no longer think that 'communication' is taking place.

A delusion, in everyday language, is a fixed belief that is either false, fanciful, or derived from deception. Psychiatry defines the term more specifically as a belief that is pathological (the result of an illness or illness process). As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, dogma, stupidity, apperception, illusion, or other effects of perception.


Beginning in 2005, I began to experience nonbizarre delusions. My delusions were obseration-communication based, and may have been triggered by a particular event: after living on my own in 2004 for approximately half a year, I moved back in with GK. The combination of long-term depression and this event may have resulted in a new development. My conscious assessement was that I wanted to live on my own, and even though that hadn't changed, I had to concede that I wasn't doing very well on my own.

In 2005, if I had gone to see a psychologist, the stated 'reason for visit' would have been that I was experiencing delusions. But the reason for the delusions might have been long-term untreated major depression, and that may have been uncovered in therapy. I was lonely, I was isolated, and it makes sense that I would need to feel 'important' enough to be stalked.

Delusions apparently can have a lifelong course. My delusions appear to have been somewhat persecutory in nature, with a morphed version of erotomania thrown in, as well as delusions of reference - if I believed that music on 'random play' was chosen especially for me by a person or group of persons stalking/persecuting me.

While I have probably always had a low level paranoia regarding the possibility of surveillance, and this might always be with me, I think that through contact with an actual person who I seem to have created my delusion around, I was able to solve or resolve my delusion to a very great extent.

When I began to have the idea that someone was not only watching my activities on the computer, but attempting to communicate with me through songs on random play on Winamp, at first I dismissed the idea as silly. I found it somewhat interesting to 'play along', and found it was a good release psychologically to engage imaginatively and emotionally, but it seemed highly unlikely to me that an actual consciousness was communicating with me.

As time went on, the 'coincidences' seemed pronounced to me, the 'messages' seemed to be becoming clearer and more consistent. Through my everyday writing/typing on the computer, through the images I created and the music I listened to, I began to have the impression that another consciousness and I were creating our own language. At times this alarmed me. Many of the 'messages' seemed sarcastic or mocking in nature (sometimes sinister), and even some of the spam, emails and snailmail I received seemed to be transmitting such messages. However, at the same time, I had conflicted feelings, finding that I was drawn to the idea of being stalked, and communicating in an alternative way, which resulted in me becoming obsessed with my perceived stalker.

What at first I had treated as an interesting psychological outlet became something that seemed increasingly real to me. At this point I began to ask those I knew with extensive computer knowledge about what exactly was technologically possible regarding hacking.

I took some other steps: I turned off my site statistics, I didn't activate logs (a person I had communicated with in the past had admitted to tapping out messages to me by excessively hitting some entries on my site - so it made sense to me to make a conscious attempt to shut out all such messages in an attempt to focus in on the current perceived stalking), I had my computer extensively checked for viruses, spyware, etc, and had serious virus protection installed, including a hard disk firewall.

The most serious aspect of the delusion was that it seemed to me that observation and communication were taking place on the computer even when I was not online. However, the delusion didn't extend to any area of life outside the computer.

I thought about possible psychological motivation I might have for needing to create an imaginary companion, and admitted that plenty of motive existed: I was living in a very isolated way, I was lonely, I was getting older, I had never experienced the kind of connection I thought it was possible for me to experience, and it seemed unlikely that it was ever going to happen.

My delusions would be classified as nonbizarre. It is actually a fairly common delusion to believe that you are being observed or spied on, and possibly singled out for persecution for some reason or other. At present, a lot of computer hacking goes on, and even government agencies reserve the right to spy on the public. I am a person with a public website, I am obviously a troubled person, and may attract those who find social situations difficult, those more comfortable viewing and interacting with the world by computer. Also, I have had relationships/friendships with a few people who possess advanced computer skills.

My delusions could possibly be seen as 'delusions of reference', since I was perhaps seeing too much into the randomness of everyday life, thinking that an actual consciousness (or even a group of people) was attempting to communicate with me. The delusions were partly persecutory in nature, because at times I had the impression I was being mocked for stupidity or some personal lack, and at times I thought that someone thought it was a fun game to play with me, or to try to frighten or confuse a person who was not allowed concrete conscious knowledge that she was being toyed with.

I do not strictly fit the criteria for erotomania as I did not believe the 'other' was in love with me and sending me messages of love. Fairly early in the formation of the delusion, there was an actual person I began to associate with the perceived stalking. The 'personality' reminded me of a person I had had an email relationship with in the past, and who I had briefly met in person. In erotomania, the person the erotomaniac becomes obsessed with is usually of considerably higher social standing - I had thought that the perceived stalker, or the person I associated 'his' personality with, was unemployed, as I was. (In my life, I have been obsessed 3 times in total with those who were unemployed.)

I would have written to the actual person in order to clear things up. I actually did, but my emails were returned to me undeliverable - he had changed his email address and I didn't know how to contact him. I didn't even know if I knew his 'real' name.

If I had been able to talk to him at the outset, my obsession would have been curtailed quickly. As it turned out, I waited three years to resolve the situation.

He finally wrote to me out of the blue, while I was travelling around the world. We hadn't had any contact in almost 6 years, and he emailed me while I was not far from where he lived.

Anyway, it took a number of months, but we eventually developed a semi-regular correspondence, I explained the weird situation to him, and he was willing to listen to it and offer his input. The odd thing was that unconsciously I had 'remembered' his personality and way of communicating better than I had consciously. The 'personality' of the 'stalker' was indeed very much like that of this person.

In the end I concluded that the need to create the delusion was partly about loneliness, and partly about punishment. I was probably punishing myself for having a public website. Unconsciously, I probably still believed that it was wrong of me to put such personal details online, that it was best to hide myself, and unfair to the people I had known in my life - I had been destroying my writing all my life because I did feel such massive guilt about my thoughts and feelings, and that it was just so excessive, with 'bad' writing, and 'bad' 'art'.

The delusion revolves around a major theme in my life: the idea that people do not share essential information with me, thinking it is kinder (or something) not to tell me. However, when I find out the truth later, it is worse than it would have been had I been allowed to just deal with it earlier. When it came to my family, it might actually have made the difference between going out into the world much sooner or staying trapped for years.

As women age, the truth is that most become more invisible. It becomes more difficult in most cases to find new relationships. It looks like I found a good way to 'punish' myself for my website: my wish for a new relationship was woven into the punishment, such that my 'rejection' included the rejection and trivialization of all I have expressed online.

I realize that sounds pretty brutal, but I actually think I may have become stronger in facing this. I feel like I have accomplished something in getting answers, and putting in the effort to stand up for my own ideas in a situation in which a person does not share my ideas (here it must be pointed out that by ideas I am not referring to my delusional ideas), or respect them.

For additional insight as to why I might be more prone than the average person to surveillance delusions, check observation-communication delusion and guilt. This might also be of interest.

Certain people I have known have been under surveillance by police, government, etc. GK's father was a journalist, and ASIO had files on his father, which included information about his family. Another person I had an extensive online communication with had a family member who was watched by the government of his country, and this surveillance might have extended to the person I had contact with as well. An uncle of mine who was a convicted drug dealer was watched by the RCMP (when visiting, certain persons or houses were pointed out to me while dog-walking, and I was warned that when talking on the phone my calls may not be private.) It had occurred to me that while watching a primary target, I was also observed, and that since surveillance over time probably gets boring, it might have been human nature to have 'fun' with a person it would be easy to dismiss as 'crazy', such that there would never be any repercussions.

In addition, my first kiss (at age 13) involved someone else watching. I had been set up by two boys. The first picked me up and set me down on a bed, got on top of me and kissed me, and when he got up, I noticed that his friend was at the window with a camera. The boy who kissed me never spoke to me after, and rumours about me having sex circulated around the school.

At age 16, I had drunken sex in a car while others watched. I don't remember enough about the night to know if anyone commented or judged me in any way, but the experience was tied to the most frightening night of my life, which had resulted in a kind of PTSD.


My father had grandiose and religious delusions that began when I was 16, he was 40-41 (his were triggered by head trauma) He was prepared for the coming Apolcalypse, said that he thought one of my brothers might be the Second Coming of Christ, and that he himself would play a pivotal role in the upcoming battle with the Antichrist. I think that his delusions were probably triggered by an inability to deal with the responsibility of having to raise 4 kids on his own after my mother's death - he unconsciously needed the world to end. He probably alternated between wanting to die himself, and wanting us to die.

Do I have a history of delusions (specifically, receiving 'messages')? This is something it is necessary to clear up, because I think I have given misleading impressions in the past, partly because I wanted to sound like I was experiencing symptoms interesting or extreme enough to warrant help, and partly because my home surroundings were rife were magical thinking and delusional beliefs, and with no contact with the outside world I had developed a style of communication with certain family members that I thought they could relate to. When I first spoke to a psychiatrist about 'messages', I realized that I had not given him accurate/complete enough information to work with, and pointed out that I thought he needed to talk with me longer before making a diagnosis, but he dismissed me, telling me pretty much to just take my meds.

Even later on, I would half-jokingly refer to 'receiving messages' through music and the TV when I was in my early 20s - but even then, I was still trying to sound more interesting, or like I had a more significant diagnosis.

I was not delusional in my 20s. In a way, I was probably still trying to earn 'love rewards'. The adults or authority figures in my life had delusional beliefs. In order to earn 'love rewards', I learned to speak in a language that they could relate to. I didn't believe I was receiving 'messages', but I thought it made me sound more interesting, less boring, and that it made me seem more worthy of treatment (if I had a recognizable psychiatric diagnosis, I wasn't just lazy, slothful, or without any spark of life). I noted unusual coincidences, but I did have awareness that it was mainly something interesting which did not have a specific meaning or a message consciously aimed at me. I realized that it had likely occurred that I had become attuned to such coincidences because my attempt to live on my own had failed after 6 months, because I came crawling back, because my father had moved out to another new place, a very cold place where I was very isolated, I spent a lot of time in my room reading, including tackling the bible and reading dictionaries every day, and I also performed a sensory deprivation exercise which lasted a month. In spite of that, I think my perception was relatively intact and that if anyone had bothered to have a detailed conversation with me they would have found me less delusional than the authority figures in my life. I was desperately trying to find small bits of the outside world, ideas, books, music, words - on which to nurture and nourish myself, on which to survive.

delusions of reference: messages sent through various media specifically for an individual, whether to harass or instruct or whatever

I didn't ever focus in that way, although it might have seemed that I did. The way I interpreted was that since all energy is linked, many 'messages' for different people can be sent and perceived at once - it is a kind of info conveyed perhaps in most cases unconsciously, but when you are tuned in to patterns, you might be able to recognize info pertinent to yourself - which also might be pertinent to others of your 'type', but also to those who are tuned into different parts of the whole.

At times I wanted to feel special, and at times when I described this I gave a misleading impression because I wanted to have an 'interesting' psych diagnosis - I wanted to have a reason that others could understand for my situation. I realized that I was noting coincidences, and some seemed very unusual, but I also realized that I was particularly attuned to certain info, probably because I was isolated from the outside world and could only focus on the material which was available to me.

It can be seen as 'pathetic' to be obsessed with a famous person, or to 'receive messages' from famous people, but if the majority of people weren't pathetic in this way to some extent, the music, movie and advertising businesses would not exist. All of these industries make their money through selling the fantasy of availability, and this has less to do with whether a star is 'taken' or not, and more to do with sexual preference. This is partly why it's so hard for stars to come out as gay. If only about 10 % of the population is gay, the market is greatly reduced when there is certainty about sexual orientation. The best option is to adopt a heterosexual image, and throw in a few gay rumours so that everyone keeps hoping.

My eureka moment came when I thought that my stored impressions of someone I knew in high school had been triggered through the 'messages' I was picking up, and were in a moment reinterpreted. I had remembered a lot more about him than I had realized. He was not sending me messages with his conscious intent, rather it was about me piecing together the kind of person he was, and perhaps unconsciously realizing that he would be concerned about my situation, and might actually care, if he knew. And so those messages had given me a kind of hope for a while, based on past experience. Through things like music, those who are extremely isolated can maintain a kind of connection to the world, and retain a kind of hope that there is a way back to it.

The messages at that time were always 'positive', constructive, or hopeful.

The overall theme was probably of finding signs to lead me to know where to go next, what to do next, but that I would find love.

What it is absolutely essential to point out is that this way of focusing, and of being tuned in to coincidences, in many cases, actually did lead me to a new (real life) relationship - two of which turned out to be long-term. I think this has to do with the functions of memory and pattern-recognition. I was able to access stored info in my memory through 'coincidences' which triggered that info to become conscious. I managed to find relationships even in a very isolated state.

When I was still living in the family home, I had no resources, no contacts, and communication was never in-depth with anyone. I could have explained in detail if I had ever been in a situation in which trust had been established and genuine interest was shown in my circumstances.

The delusion experienced from 2005-2008 did not lead to a new relationship, but the resolution may lead to a new phase in my life. I think in that case the delusion had occurred because I had been given false information to work with. I had been told lies out of 'kindness', to protect my ego, but the misinformation had somehow messed with my pattern-recognition abilities, and I needed to clear up the misunderstanding (to the best of my ability) in order to move on.

...But though the outward facts of this love are indeed sad and ridiculous, it must be remembered that the real story was that which took place in the soul of the lover himself. So who... can be the final judge of this or any other love?...

Carson McCullers - The Ballad of the Sad Café

("but God" - I decided to leave out that part of the quote, because I see God as existing only as a "meme with high survival value" (Dawkins). Human beings can 'play god', but I'd hardly see them as any kind of 'final' judge.)

It is in a way fascinating to me that I was able to create a 'relationship' that could seem so 'real'. I see it as one of my 'alternative' relationships, and think of it as having been a significant part of my life. I put a lot into it.

...Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world - a world intense and strange, complete in himself...

Carson McCullers - The Ballad of the Sad Café

There is a kind of freedom in just communicating exactly as it all spills out of your head, and trusting that someone else has a feel for your mode of expression. For most of my life, I have been translating in all my relationships. It takes effort, I have to bend more than half way. It's not even that in my delusions I felt perfectly understood, and there was also the sense of translating, but it was easier to just keep communicating without having to censor as much - it was a kind of natural communication, and it seems that I needed it.

There was also the sense of 'I am good at this' - perhaps a kind of 'mind reading' or interpretation that was unusual considering my 'handicap' of being in the dark, not having concrete acknowledgment that communiation was occurring. So that may have been another component in the necessity of forming the delusion. I wanted a chance to use an 'ability'. I also in the end 'stood up to' a presence I could not 'get rid of', and found that I was 'strong enough' to stand by my own ideas in the face of sarcasm or mockery, but also able to see all 'communication' as a potential inspiration to start explaining my own point of view, on any topic.

Interpretation of motives or inflection or intent is tricky, even when it comes to delusional presences and their communiqués. A person who tended to 'positivity' might think everything is a message of support and admiration, a person who tended to 'negativity' might think everything is a persecution. I think I experienced a very complex range when it came to perception of intent. This says something about me as a person, and about the hurdles I faced in trying to stand up to this internal pressure projected onto external reality. I couldn't dismiss it easily or in a black and white way. I was facing parts of myself which I might not have been aware existed, or which I didn't think had to be faced.















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