Portrait by Alexander T. Scaramanga

My “official” diagnosis is Rapid-cycling, Mixed-episode Bipolar disorder Type I with psychotic features. I realize that is a mouthful, but it is germane to the subject of this post; especially the “psychotic features” part. I was doing a bit of research this morning on delusions and delusional thinking. I discovered a few things that I knew and a few things I did not know. Delusions are recognized as a belief that is clearly not grounded in reality. It is not rational nor is it accounted for by a religious belief system, a person’s intelligence, or cultural background. A person with a delusion will hold fast to the idea despite all evidence that it is false. They are 100% convinced that the delusion is reality. Delusions can be a symptom of the following: a medical disorder, a neurological disorder, or a mental disorder. Delusions may be present in the following: 1) psychotic disorders where the affected person has a diminished or distorted sense of reality. These include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, and others. 2) bipolar disorder, 3) major depressive disorder with psychotic features, 4) delirium and 5) dementia.

Delusions are organized into two sets of opposing categories. These are “bizarre vs. non-bizarre” and “mood-congruent vs. mood-incongruent.” A bizarre delusion is one that is very strange and out of line with a person’s cultural background. An example of a bizarre delusion might be the notion that one is receiving transmissions from another planet via radio waves. A non-bizarre delusion is an idea where the content, although mistaken, is plausible. For example, a person may believe that they are being watched by the police. An example of a mood-congruent delusion is the idea a severely depressed person may hold that the world is ending. A mood-incongruent delusion may be represented by the idea that thoughts are being “inserted” into a person’s mind, and they are recognized as not being that person’s thoughts. This is called “thought insertion.”

Delusions are often organized into “themes” of thought. One is the “delusion of control” where a person may believe that their actions, thoughts, and behaviors are being controlled by an external force. “Nihilistic” centers on the non-existence of one’s self or parts of one’s self, others, or the world. This is the classic “the end of the world is nigh” delusion. “Delusional jealousy” or the “delusion of infidelity” is also common. It is the false belief that one’s spouse or lover is having an affair, and stems from pathological jealousy. Bear with me here, I am getting to the point of this post. Another common theme is the “delusion of guilt or sin.” This is the idea that some event, say a house fire, is one’s fault when there is no possible connection between the person and the event. One of the last themes is the “delusion of one’s mind being read.” I think that is fairly self explanatory.

I said all of that to say this. I suffer from delusional thinking. That would be the “psychotic features” part of my diagnosis. I have also had psychotic breaks where I have broken completely from both my self and my reality (which is subjective due to the psychotic problem.) My delusion falls into the “delusional jealousy” theme. I have this pervasive and all encompassing belief that a friend of my fiance’s has a crush on him and has for several years. I also have a sneaking suspicion that when she and her husband were having problems that they may have had an affair, but this I can’t say for certain. I mentioned this post to my therapist on Wednesday, and she just smiled, knowing where I was going with it. Anyway, I am having a hard time writing this post.

“She” as I will call her is everything that I feel that I am not; she is apparently quite funny, she is very smart (yes, she is really a rocket scientist ~ works at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California), she is cheerleader cute and tiny, and she is an avid bicyclist (as is my fiance; I truly enjoy riding my bike, but I find it to be a solitary activity. Not social.) I, on the other hand, am tall, slightly overweight due to meds to keep others sane, have achieved a college degree in Sociology and Psychology (underwater basket weaving is what my friends and I call those types of majors), and am not an avid cyclist. I am not cheerleader cute and tiny nor do I hold a Master’s degree in astrophysics.There are little things that make me think they may have had an affair. First, my fiance never has told me who she had her affair with, and I know he knows. Second, the first time I met her was at a dinner she and a friend had for my fiance’s birthday about 3 years ago. Every time I would try to engage her in conversation, she would answer curtly, wave me off, and return to her intense conversation with my fiance. She wasn’t even talking to her other friend (who happens to be a computer scientist at the National lab here). Her friend talked to me. I felt like a third wheel on a date. It was terribly uncomfortable. Third, there was the late night phone call while we were in bed watching TV. He hung up after half an hour of laughing with a “Good night, sweetie.” I just have to say WTF, and then he wanted to be intimate after calling another woman “sweetie.” Seriously? Then a few months later at the grocery store, we ran into her, and she called out his name and flung herself on him. Her daughter and I just stood there awkwardly while she once again focused solely on him. Again, terribly uncomfortable. It’s a composite of all these little things that make me think my fiance was the one she had the affair with.  Oh, and he calls her when I am not home. For me, that sealed it.

Do you see what I mean about delusional thinking? He and I have been together for at least 4 or 5 years. I should feel comfortable and secure. But… I don’t. I do not understand why he is with me. I am broken. She is not. I am unemployed. She helps put satellites in orbit. I am tall and “statuesque.” She is little and cute. I smoke. She climbs huge hills on her bike for fun. I just know they had something going at whatever point in time she and her husband were on the outs. And, if they didn’t, she clearly has a crush on him. I can tell by the way she looks at him. It causes me to think “if only I were this or that.” But, mostly she makes me wish I wasn’t who and what I am. What really bugs me is that I know I am not ugly or stupid. This whole Bipolar thing was not in my life plan.