Surviving Halloween When You Have Experienced Hallucinations
Surviving Halloween is not something I take lightly. I experienced visual and auditory hallucinations many years before receiving my schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I thought I was receiving some sort of communication from a spirit world. Halloween is a difficult holiday for me even though I've been on medication for over a decade now. Here are some of my experiences and how I've coped.
Before my diagnosis, I never questioned my hallucinations. To me, they were real. Sometimes I thought maybe I had a gift, but the majority of the time I was really frightened. I was anxious and tired, but it was so hard to get to sleep. I always had all the lights on in the house.
I still occasionally have hallucinations, typically when I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. When it's happening, it still feels real, however, it's easier to recover now knowing that they are hallucinations -- a symptom of my illness.
I'm sure you can see now that surviving Halloween can be a problem for me. I don't like feeling frightened and reminded of how I felt when I was very sick.
Halloween Frightened Me as a Child and Adult
I tried to be tough around my friends growing up by going with them to a haunted corn maze. I fought back the tears for as long as I could, but they eventually came out. The memories of the maze kept me up for nights to come, and that's when I decided I wouldn't step foot in one of those places again. I was only in middle school, and I didn't know yet that I had a mental illness.
Earlier this month I attended a staff retreat for work. I walked into the meeting room and sat down, and the coworker sitting next to me turned and looked at me with a werewolf mask on. It really scared me. My heart jumped out of my chest and a few swear words slipped from my mouth. She probably didn't know my diagnosis or symptoms, but I looked away and was on the verge of tears. I tend to avoid anything scary around Halloween, but some things are out of my control.
Halloween is actually my husband's favorite holiday but I will not go with him to parties and haunted houses.
My Daughter Helps Me Survive Halloween
Our daughter is now two and a half, and surprisingly, helping her celebrate the holiday has helped me survive Halloween as well. She's adorable and we put her in adorable costumes. For her first Halloween, she was an elephant. Last year she was a flamingo, and this year she is going to be a unicorn. I love getting her dressed up and taking lots of pictures to share with friends and family. There are lots of family (not scary) Halloween events where we live and it's really great to see our daughter having fun. I feel like it has given Halloween a new meaning for me.
How to Cope with Halloween When You Experience Hallucinations
Some things you can't avoid like my coworker with the mask. That took a little time to get over but I found peace in talking openly about it with my loved ones.
My best advice to anyone who experiences similar psychotic symptoms and is triggered by Halloween is to take care of you. You don't have to be a "tough guy." If you know something is going to upset you or set you back, avoid it.
Halloween is tough, but we can get through it. There are some friendlier holidays on the horizon.
Rahm, M. (2018, October 31). Surviving Halloween When You Have Experienced Hallucinations, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2018/10/surviving-halloween-when-you-have-experienced-hallucinations