Coming Of Age

I watched a documentary yesterday and there was a guy on it who was suffering from ‘delusions’ who was convinced he was going to die on or before his 18th birthday because the voices told him he would. He had tried to kill himself a couple of times because of it, so he could get in first, have control over it.

That triggered a memory out of me because I too, thought I was going to die before my 18th birthday, I was completely convinced of it, but rather than ‘voices’, my intrusive thoughts had told me repeatedly when I was around 7 or 8yrs old that “You will never come of age”, and they were dead certain of it.

I didn’t know what that phrase entailed at first, I eventually had to ask someone in a round about way what “come of age” actually meant, they told me it was when you were classed as an adult. The time was different in different cultures but in Australia it would be considered your 18th birthday.

My mum is a spiritual person and went through a stage of going to psychic fairs and to medium groups, I was told by a number of people on many occasions as a young child that I had a ‘gift’, lots of stuff I had said would randomly come true and so I decided that these ‘thoughts’ about me dying must have been psychic ones, but these thoughts were scary, I didn’t want this gift!

Mum went to see a psychic and she said something about my brother walking me down the aisle when I married, that freaked me out because I believed this person was right and was terrified of potential reasons why my Dad wouldn’t do it. Since I too was apparently ‘psychic’, I already knew that I was never going to ‘come of age’ and this psychic’s statement conflicted with that because she mentioned me marrying and having children young, you still can’t marry until you are 18yrs old.

I didn’t want to believe that something awful would happen to my Dad so I tried to push the thought away, but I always felt I was going to die. I was a scared little kid and I wanted desperately to ask or tell someone about me ‘not coming of age’, but I didn’t want to admit that I was a psychic because I knew people either wouldn’t believe me or would want to encourage the gift that I so desperately didn’t want to have.

So, I decided that the only way I could get some comfort on the matter was by bending the truth, I told a few people that I knew I was going to die because a psychic at the psychic fair had told me so, I said that she had said I would never come of age. People of course questioned why on earth a psychic would say that to a little kid true or not and I just told them that it had slipped out accidentally and she tried to cover it up and change the subject.

I did it so well that I had even convinced myself someone else had told me, in my mind I can remember being at a psychic fair and when I picture the psychic that ‘told me this’ I see a woman with curly dark red hair, I had always wondered why I couldn’t remember her face or her name since she had had such a big impact on me, and as an adult had also seriously questioned why the hell she would say that to a little kid and hated her for it.

I had actually relayed a portion of this story to my psychiatrist the other day still not realizing I was lying to myself about the existence of this ‘psychic’ until after I watched this documentary yesterday and the memories of what really happened came flooding back to me.

As I got older and I developed suicidal ideation, I started thinking that I would never come of age because I would kill myself. Through my childhood the depressions, teenage anorexia, drinking, drug taking, leaving school at 15, hooking up with a 30yr old at age 16, I never felt worried or scared for my future because I didn’t have a future.

When I had what I now know as hypomanic episodes, I would embrace my psychic ‘abilities’, I was euphoric, unique and powerful at one with God and the universe but still never wavering from the certainty that I would not come of age, in those times it was referred to as my ‘destiny’.

When I met my now husband and fell in love at 16 &1/2 I had even told him that I was possibly going to die before I was 18, it had of course been foretold in a psychic prophecy. When I fell pregnant at 17 I felt guilty as sin because I was bringing a baby into this world that would grow up without a mother.

I wonder now if that is part of the reason I didn’t bond with my first son in the beginning, looking back I definitely had post-natal depression but there were a million risk factors playing into that already.

As my 18th birthday dawned closer I decided that I was going to die ON my birthday, it seemed kind of poetic in a way, I was freaking out about it on some levels, making plans, writing letters to the people I loved. I worried for my new baby and the thought that my boyfriend would have to raise him alone. I knew that if I woke on the day before my birthday with the impulse to commit suicide I would have to do it no matter what as it was my destiny.

I didn’t plan an 18th birthday party, I told people it was because I was tired with a new baby, but it was really because I knew I wouldn’t be alive to see it. On the night before my birthday my mother in law came over to baby sit my 4 month old son over-night so that I could at least go out clubbing with hubby, his sister & her boyfriend.

My anxiety levels were through the roof the entire day, waiting for something to happen. I kissed my son goodbye that night thinking I would probably never see him again, I wondered what sort of man he would be one day and then I left the room, ready to accept my destiny. I had kept my fears to myself for a really long time for fear of people thinking I was crazy, but I remember finally saying something in the car about what ‘the psychic’ had said and successfully freaking out my sister in law who was driving us that it might come true.

The clock struck midnight and no lightning bolt came down from the sky to hit me, I walked into a club at 12:01 and bought my first legal vodka. I had come of age and I was alive, ‘the psychic’ was wrong, I was wrong. All of those years of anguish for nothing.

I secretly muttered a ‘fuck you’ to the psychic that mum had spoken to as well when 6 months later my Dad walked me down the aisle to marry my amazing husband.

Over the next few years I would believe in the ‘prophecy’ again off and on, mostly when depressed and suicidal or when very hypomanic and euphoric, deciding that I just had the date wrong or that perhaps ‘coming of age’ really meant 21?

Looking back, I wish I would have just once had the courage to to tell the truth about what was going on in my addled mind and ask for professional help, it probably would have saved a hell of a lot of heart ache. But I knew people wouldn’t understand my destiny or my psychic powers, I knew how it sounded to someone without my unique connection to the universe and I was scared they would simply think I was crazy.

Hearing this Documentary refer to the young man as having delusions about dying at 18 was unexpectedly confronting because, I guess since coming to terms with all of my mental health issues, I had not thought about my old fears about this subject as ‘delusions’ but I guess in retrospect they were…

Have you ever suffered from delusions?

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