Friday, January 07, 2011

Tactile and Somatic Hallucinations.

As some of you know, I had a rancid Christmas with a psychotic episode that included the following experience:
So much so that earlier (before the Christmas party) I had an over-loading of my muscles with anxious, tense, agitating energy. I writhed about in discomfort as my muscles strained for release. In these kind of episodes I feel as though my body will tear apart from the stress on the integrity of the over-all body. Often these episodes of mixed-state, out-bursts trigger a delusional reality where I feel trapped in a shallow pit while being punched and hammered with pipes and hammers. I twisted my body in response as if I was literally being tortured; and in a vain attempt to escape the grip of the mixed-state. In those moments I am lost in the hallucinatory delusion and am convinced that I am being tormented by deranged men dressed in Victorian suits, cloaks and top hats; their faces hidden by a swirling cloud of grayish, black smoke. But as usual, I digress.
So, I saw my psychiatrist a few days back (who is brilliant) and told him the story of my break from reality. I asked him what the hell is going on when I have experiences like those above. I'd say they happen a few times a month on average. So, he told me that it's called a tactile hallucination!! Apparently it's a hallucination that creates the sensation of tactile sensory input, which explains the sensations in these episodes of literally being punched, hammered with lead pipes and electric shocks from a cattle prod. It also creates the sensation of pressure within the skin and organs, which explains why I feel like my skin is crawling and the muscles within swelling toward the ripping point.

Tactile hallucinations are a type of somatic hallucination, which are characterized by the feeling that the body is being mutilated (i.e. twisted, torn or disembowled). For me, this comes in the form of feeling like my muscles are twisting around inside without my control, which causes me to writhe around on the bed, couch or floor in agony. It's feels very uncomfortable to say the least!! As if that wasn't enough, it causes me actual physical discomfort and pain.

During these tactile and somatic hallucinations, it feels as though I'm stuck in two states of being. I know that I'm awake because I can see the waking life around me on the edges of my vision. However, I also feel the very real sensations of being in a dream state. My therapist mentioned that the brain in these states is mimicking the hynogogic state, which is where dreams occur as your falling asleep but still slightly aware of being somewhat awake.

They are terrifying and exhausting both psychically and emotionally but it's nice to be able to put a name and explanation to them because I've been trying to figure out what the FUCK these episodes were about for years. I knew already that I have visual, auditory and olfactory hallucinations but not tactile, somatic hallucinations. Living with Schizoaffective disorder is like being stuck between the real world and a virtual reality world that has gone awry with programs reaching through the veil between the two worlds to attack you. But, the worst part is you don't know when those attacks could come -- so, you live with constant tension and anxiety about having an attack at an inopportune time and in an inopportune place.

But, my psych said to take a full milligram of the anti-psychotic, Risperdal when I have these attacks. The problem is that I'm usually so ensnared in them that I can't break free physically to go get the medicine I need. So, it's scary because I can't call out very easily for help. But, If my wife can see that I'm in the middle of a hallucinatory break from reality, she can get the Risperdal down my throat--hopefully. At least, that's the plan from here on out. Wish me luck.



Deputy's Wife said...

Good luck! That sounds freaking scary!

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, man! I'm sorry you have to suffer through things like that, but do appreciate your willingness to share your experiences and help educate people about what life with Schizoaffective disorder is like. Me, I just have plain old major depressive disorder. Pretty damn boring in comparison, until the suicidal ideations kick in....

Angelina said...

So Sorry, dude. Please don't ever give up hope. I adore you and your writings help me so much. I'm currently weaning myself from vic, and it's hell, but nothing compared to your experience. I don't know you, but love your writings and always hope that you, me, and all your readers can someday have hope that things will get better.

tracy said...

Take good care, Handsome B.

i can't imagine how terrible these episodes must be, even with your amazing descriptions, which sound horrifying.

i, too, live with merely major depression, (and BPD).

Sending good thoughts,

Jen Daisybee said...

"Living with Schizoaffective disorder is like being stuck between the real world and a virtual reality world that has gone awry with programs reaching through the veil between the two worlds to attack you."

This is so true, H.B.W. As you are one of the few people I know who also lives with this disorder, I always relate to most of your writings about it, and really appreciate them. I can't say I have had tactile halluciations in the past few years, but I believe I did have them back before I was diagnosed when I had no idea what was happening to me.

I have been really lucky to not have a lot of hallucinations in recent months, but I never forget what they're like and that they could happen at any time and I could start hearing and seeing things that are not there.

I am sorry you have such horrible hallucinations, but I'm glad at least now you have a name for them, and you have some kind of plan for being able to deal with it with your wife's help.

Take care!!


libhom said...

I hope these experiences stop for you.

I didn't know that the hynogic state is the name for those dreams. I have them a lot when I ride the bus to work.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

Thanks Deputy's Wife. I'm back on the horse but cautious none the less.

@Anonymous...Thanks for the kind words. I'm so glad that I can express myself through words because I not only want to express my own frustrations but educate too.

Depression isn't plain at all. It's a very real struggle and when it comes to mental illness--it's all relative to the individual. I'm sure that you have faced plenty of very difficult situations. Yet you are still here...and you should be proud of that.

@Angelina...Hearing comments like this from people like you keep me wanting to hang in there. So, thanks for being there and listening to my struggles. It means a lot.

@Tracy...Thanks. It is horrifying. That's the perfect descriptor. I think these somatic hallucinations are the closest thing that one can experience without actually being tortured.

@Jen...I am so glad that I am not the only one online with SA disorder. I feel the same way with stuff you write--we have to stick together!!

Yeah, not knowing when hallucinations and episodes will come makes it really hard to plan. Or do anything in the field of work. That's why I'm disabled. If I missed work for every day I needed it--I'd be working less than part time.

Nobody can afford to keep someone on with such erratic needs as mine. So, I try to get by on my measly $400 a month in benefits.

@Libhom...Yeah, hypnogogic state is a trip to read up on. I've been doing a bit of research into it and the brain is fascinating how it fires and misfires. It's like a supercomputer.

Anonymous said...

i m very sorry to know about your disturbance. i can understand it must be very difficult to bear all this. but i must congratulate you on your effort... there are a few positive things i want to point out in u. u seem to have a good insight about your problem in spite of these active hallucinatory episodes. you also seem to be intellectually equipped and have a good support from your wife and doctor that will help you a lot in the long run. do continue with your endeavor towards well-being. all the best.
Miss D.
Psychologist in training.

Anonymous said...

Handsome b... If you havent yet, try meditation. Non active meditation, where yiu are more centered and quiet in your own body. Tibetan singing biwls are good as you can focus on just the tone. To ease yiur frustration, develop a calm loving peaceful way to gently disregard the extraneous thoughts, ad go back to the singing bowl tones... Or meditate on just one word, like om. Keep it simple, especially while theres so much extraneous chaos. Know that youre stronger than it...
To calm your own fears and anger/frustration, develop your own meditative mind, start to observe in a healthy detatched way and maybe document what you hear/feel, etc...
Youll empower yourself more spiritually and get yourself in a higher position that reacting to it.

You are innately divine... And, if you know yourself well or are starting your spiritual journey, youll cultivate a stronger ability to discern...

I wish you all the best.. Keep getting stronger, spiritually. It will help you.