Some days I wonder just how much my own personal neurosis lies within the realm of normal and how much is delusional. Am I neurotic or psychotic?
I don’t hear voices. I don’t even talk to myself. I don’t think I have anything resembling an obsessive compulsive disorder. I’m not addicted to anything and I have no phobias to discuss.
Nobody who knows me would describe me as shy or socially awkward, although I do often feel anxious and awkward in social settings…but everyone does, right?
Still, I once tested positive for paranoia.
I was told that my hyper-defensive responses to a psychological evaluation landed me in crazy territory. Believe me, my ex-wife derived and probably still derives enormous pleasure from that episode. Here’s what happened…
A year after our somewhat amicable divorce (without lawyers) she came to me and said she wanted to move out of state with the children. Although we both grew up here, her brother and then her parents had moved there. They could help her with the kids she reasoned, and the kids could play with their cousins more frequently (all so much more important than Dad helping and playing with the kids, don’t you know). She had also met a guy she would eventually marry there (the real reason).
My response was, “Hell no. You are not leaving town with my children.”
I had just quit my job and started my own business for the very reason to be more flexible and available to my children. Her parents only spent six months in this new place anyway and she wan’t THAT close to her brother. We fought about it for several weeks and then she went legal. I stood my ground and a year+ long custody battle ensued.
I could fill this blog for the next 6 months detailing the mess of that year…but I won’t. It was hell. The result of that battle is still hell.
The general gist was this…
She had a better lawyer than I did.
She won the right to move out of state with the children. Once the legalities started, her real reasons for wanting to move changed and it was suddenly a “financial necessity.” Also, in this state it wasn’t about whether she could move or not. It was about where the kids would go if she moved. I couldn’t even introduce the argument that she wouldn’t go if the kids weren’t allowed to go. So, I ended up fighting my Mormon stay at home ex-wife for full custody. If I had known this clearly from the beginning and had had my lawyer explain the likelihood that she would win I might not have fought it.
I don’t know…I still might have. I’m proud I fought for my kids.
Anyway, about my paranoia…
As part of the custody battle, we both had to undergo psychological fitness evaluations. It was a full day of paper tests and talking.
During the test I had to answer questions like these. If I remember correctly I had a mere YES or NO choice:
People who once loved me now despise me.
I’ve disappointed many people in my circle of friends.
I can tell people are talking about me when I enter a room.
People are looking at me differently now than they used to.
Keep in mind that I went from an active, temple-worthy, highly active Mormon man to an out, homosexual apostate overnight. Of course it wasn’t overnight for me or even for my ex-wife. But until we decided to divorce we kept up appearances for both family and the ward friends.
I wonder how many ex-Mormons would answer YES to those questions.
How many gay men recently out of the closet would answer YES?
How many gay, ex-Mormons?
The truth is that both my family and my ex-wife’s withdrew from me. No communication. I did get a letter from my former in-laws basically telling me that they despised me, were disappointed in me and viewed me differently. When I took my kids to primary or scouting activities, people with whom I’d once served in callings would avoid eye contact.
AND…My ex-wife was trying to take my children out of state for God’s sake!
I remember arriving at this part of the test and smiling to myself because I knew the test was trying to evaluate if I was paranoid in an irrational way. But, I also thought that it would be human-scored and having just discussed my situation with the psychiatrist I thought that it was probably correct to answer YES because it is appropriate to be defensive if others are so clearly on the offensive. That was the honest answer.
A month or so later I was contacted by the psychiatrist and offered the chance to retake the test because, of course, my otherwise normal evaluation had turned up with an abnormally huge spike and I was deemed paranoid. Apparently, having met me, the psychiatrist disagreed and they let me take the paper portion again. So I did.
The second time I lied on that section of the test and passed it with flying colors.
Nowadays, if I get my feelings hurt or if I sense that someone is trying to subtly let me know that they’re not interested …I secretly wonder if I really am just paranoid. Stuff like that messes with your mind even when you’ve figured out the system like I did.
Neurosis is a disorder due to real emotional distress or anxiety. Psychosis, on the other hand, is a loss of touch with reality. So, as I see it my original answers on the test described a neurosis as a result of real life experience.
Either way I still lost the battle for my kids. My kids live 4 hours from me.