A hallucination is a false sensory perception that is created by the mind and not actually experienced. Contrary to popular believe, a hallucination does not have to be some outrageous and obvious phenomenon. In fact, what makes a hallucination a hallucination is that it is not obvious at all, not to the person hallucinating. It may not even be obvious to the person who hears about the hallucination secondhand. I always associated hallucinations with schizophrenia and PTSD and assumed they were typically along the lines of “I see spies in my window and they are coming after me.” I didn’t realize that hallucinations could be of real people, of real situations, in every day life. I didn’t realize that hallucinations could be auditory, tactile, even olfactory or gustatory. And I certainly didn’t realize that I was having hallucinations, not for months after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Spring 2017

“I went to the gym, the gym I had gone to for years, at a normal time of day for a normal workout. I went with my brother. I saw my friend’s dad, but I didn’t talk to him, I don’t know why, I just didn’t feel like making conversation. I got on the machine, put my earphones in and started moving. I zoned out.

“Then I zoned back in. My ex-boyfriend had just walked into the gym. I hadn’t seen him in years, so I was quite startled, but I tried to play it cool. I turned away from the entrance and ran a little faster. I couldn’t look like I was slacking off in front of him. I even smiled a little bit, just the corners of my mouth, to soften my look, to make it seem like I was truly enjoying the sweat dripping into my eyeballs.

“I couldn’t help myself; I glanced over in his direction. He was talking to my friend’s dad. How strange. I have no idea how they know each other. How would their lives ever have crossed? Whatever, it’s Arkansas, everyone knows everyone. I’m more confused about how he got into the gym in the first place. It’s a gym owned by a private college that he definitely does not go to. He doesn’t even go to college. Maybe he has a guest pass? All I know is that he is here.

“I side-eyed him as he walked past the ellipticals to the lifting equipment. I saw him look my way and smile, just the corners of his mouth. I quickly turned away and blushed. I could feel his eyes on me for the rest of my workout. I kind of liked it.

“I finished and walked over to my brother to ask him if he was ready to go home. I waited for my ex to come over to me, but he didn’t. Not surprising. He was probably just as shocked as I was to see him. He probably wanted to play it cool like I wanted to play it cool. So I left.”

As soon as I get home I text all of this to my friend. I tell her I’m just waiting for him to text me, to tell me how shocked he was to see me. It was the craziest thing! I can’t believe he was there! We have both changed so much; it’s been so long.

Minutes turn into an hour, and I still haven’t heard anything. That’s when my friend breaks it to me; she doesn’t think my ex was ever at the gym. He didn’t walk in, didn’t talk to my friend’s dad, didn’t go lift or watch me or smile. He wasn’t there. He was a hallucination. I made him up. My brain made him up.

At first I insist that he was there, that I know he was, that I saw him. But one hour turns into a few hours, and I haven’t heard anything from him. My friend is gentle with me; she knows how scary this must be for me. To create a full grown human being in my brain and watch him walk around and interact with people who probably were actually there. He didn’t look 2-dimensional. He didn’t have a white glow around him. He didn’t look different from any of the other people there. He looked like a real, living, breathing human. He looked like himself. Exactly like himself.

I don’t know how to feel about this. I am sad. I am mad. I am confused. He was there. He was. I swear.

Except he wasn’t.

He was a hallucination. I was hallucinating.


8 thoughts on “Hallucinations

  1. That would be unnerving to have a hallucination like that. And it kind of makes me wonder if maybe it ever did happen to me. My hallucinations are pretty obvious. Which is why I don’t mind them. Birds swooping down from the church ceiling, rabbits in top hats in my room, armies of ants crawling my wall in filmstrip motion, prehistoric bugs crawling into my ceiling fan. The bugs are a little more difficult to tell if it is a hallucination, but the rest are pretty obvious to me because they make no sense. I’ve been honest about all of my hallucinations to my team. No one has locked me away yet. LOL I’m glad too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Real” hallucinations freak me out so much, which is why I felt the need to write about one of mine. Who knows how many we may have had…I would get way too anxious if I really tried to count them lol


  3. I appreciate you sharing your experience. To my knowledge, I’ve never hallucinated, but sometimes I hear something or see something and I wonder to myself, am I hallucinating? Nothing definitive though. It blows my mind how our brain can make up realities and inject it into this overall reality we all experience. The fact your ex was “just as real” as everyone else fascinates me. Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog! Be well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brains are absolutely insane; the fact that so many diseases and disorders can produce hallucinations as a symptom blows my mind. Thank you so much for reading, so glad we connected xox

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey, sometimes I get delusional as a schizoaffective, and I imagine that there is blood in my infusion set that I use with my insulin pump. It is a fragile device made of paper and sticky tape, with plastic attachments. I use my waist, and well, I imagine there is blood when there is none.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve had a serious delusion about blood as well; I wrote about it in a book that’s coming out in October though, so I can’t write about it here and risk plagiarizing myself. So scary


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