I lowered one of my two anti-psychotic medications by half under my psychiatrist’s direction several months ago. I did this because I was having persistent trouble with anxiety, especially when I went shopping, and anxiety is one of the side effects of the drug, Abilify. I had been on the highest dose of it and I didn’t like the idea of doing that indefinitely. At first, at the lowered dose, I experienced much less anxiety and a general sense of well being, but within the last couple of weeks there has been a return of my primary delusion. This delusion centers on the life of a handsome, talented, very successful, famous man named Eddie Vedder, the lead singer songwriter of the band Pearl Jam. The false premise of the delusion is that I am psychically connected to this man and am meant to be an actual part of his life in a few years, some kind of soul mate. The delusion flies in the face of both my reality and his. In my reality I am a 50 year old mentally ill woman who actually loves her life and doesn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone. In his reality, he is a happily married man, the father of two beautiful daughters. But that’s the nature of delusion, to take something that is not real and try to force it into the illusion of reality.
Unfortunately for me, Eddie Vedder, the real man, wrote not only about high romance, but also about incest and a couple of serial killers. For me, his story, both fact and fiction, got all jumbled up in my delusion of him. At first, before I became psychotic, I saw him as a romantic figure. I was impressed when I heard the fact that he had been in a long term relationship and yet puzzled by all the longing, pain, anger; he seemed as if he was in an abusive relationship and I could identify with that. And yet, he married his longtime girlfriend the same year that I left my abusive boyfriend. I remember being saddened by that when I heard the news. I continued to listen to the music and to feel an attraction for the man. I cultivated the fantasy of a connection to soothe me after living through abuse. At the time, I knew it was a fantasy and really I didn’t think about it a lot. I did toy with the idea for a couple of years of sending him a tape of me talking to him. In my mind I saw him as a sympathetic figure and someone who would listen closely. And so, at the end of my second semester at art school in May of 1998 I made up a tape to send to Eddie Vedder. I called it Anonym because I was sending it without my name and address. I sent it out like sending a message in a bottle out to sea. I read a poem I had written only days earlier and I sang a few songs and I talked about an attraction I had to one of my married art teachers. I talked about how I had been in an abusive relationship and how I had no friends, no one to talk to. I didn’t realize how sick I was or how sick I sounded. I was right on the cusp of acute psychosis. I was the Fool about to step off the precipice.
I sent the tape to Ed Vedder care of Pearl Jam’s Ten Club. Who knows if anyone listened to it at all. It may have wound up in the discard pile and never got to Ed. It didn’t really matter because I was primed to go head first into the delusion that he did listen to it, that he found me somehow and had me followed. I consulted my Tarot cards and the I Ching which just fueled my budding paranoia. The storyline got very dramatic because just at the time I was going insane, I went on a several week trip with my parents to Amsterdam, parts of Germany and England. I was floridly delusional and paranoid, but my parents didn’t pick up on it because I was so busy attending to my delusion while listening to Pearl Jam’s music and a copy of the tape I send to Ed Vedder. Europe is filled with Christian iconography and I was being told by the voices that I was some kind of Madonna figure and that what was happening was like the Annunciation with an angel coming to me and telling me my future. Somehow Ed had followed me to Europe. I kept catching glimpses of him. But, of course, there was no contact and none of it was real. But I really thought it was. And the delusional setup was an abusive one: wealthy and eccentric famous man breaks the law to get information, has me followed everywhere and refuses to be up front and make contact. Also famous man is still married, though obviously in a marriage that is breaking apart. I was a bit traumatized by all this questionable attention at the same time I was strongly pulled into the warped romance of the delusion. Even on the trip I continued to consult the Tarot cards and the I Ching. The interpretation of the I Ching I was using was very strict and instructed me to steer clear of Ed and give him plenty of room. The real point for me was to be a good person and follow the Sage of the I Ching or in other words God, the higher power. My delusional Ed was behaving badly, but he seemed to be working under pressure.
And so I returned home, my delusion getting stronger and my paranoia in tact. Sometime during that summer I heard a new Pearl Jam song called “U” and a part of me was convinced that that song was made with me in mind. The song starts out -- “Thought it was easy to fall in love, but you, you, you....” But it’s a bit of a weird song. The beginning chords are a little creepy, majors to minors, but from there kind of joyous like the Beatles “Got to get you into my life” and yet the lyrics speak of the love object as guileful, even criminal yet also sympathetic and maybe sexy. At the very end of the song there’s a coda where Ed is obviously talking but the clarity of what he is saying is hidden amidst the music and noise. Still I thought I could hear “I know it’s you Kate.” It was so frustrating to listen to that song. The health and sickness appeared to me to be so entwined. I started believing that Ed was putting subliminal messages in his songs and listened to many of his songs closely...and sunk more deeply into psychosis. So, starved for contact, yet feeling myself followed with the house and car bugged, I sent Ed Vedder one more tape of me talking. This time I included my address and I think I called myself Eurydice after the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus, a brilliant musician, goes to the underworld and gets Hades to agree to let Orpheus’ dead wife return to life, but only if he doesn’t turn around on the way up to look at her. In the myth he turns around and loses her again. I guess in my delusional state I was hoping to rewrite the myth and have a happy ending. I don’t talk about that on the tape. Instead I talk about myself and my mental breakdown and ask Ed to either meet me or let me go and stop harassing me. I have a copy of that tape and it could be used as a case study for schizophrenia.
Not surprisingly, Ed Vedder didn’t respond to either tape I sent, if he even was aware of them at all. My breakdown continued. At some point I thought that I became telepathically connected to Ed, against the will of himself and his group. The story went that he was in an abusive relationship with his then wife and both of them seemed to cross the line into abusive behavior and attitudes. But the story went deeper: he was actually a serial killer who had been in an incestuous relationship with his mother for years and now was sickly dedicated to his wife and to this amorphous, cult like group. The delusion put me in the role of a healer. So this cast of characters, with Ed in the lead role, were the abusers in my mind for three and a half years until after my last breakdown when I began to commit to taking the anti-psychotic medications. And during this time the real Ed Vedder got divorced from his wife and began seeing a younger woman, a woman that he would later have two daughters with and whom he would marry, after years of waiting, in 2010. And another thing happened. The Green River serial killer, who had been killing people for years in Washington state, was captured and imprisoned right around the time of my last breakdown. After that, I began taking the anti-psychotic medication and the serial killer delusion and paranoia began to fade, but I still had voices and depression. Finally, I was able to step away from several deluded beliefs, that I was connected to Ed and that he was a serial killer in a beautiful disguise. I got some of my freedom back within my mind.
It’s been 14 years since I went into acute psychosis and other than sending two tapes to Ed Vedder through Pearl Jam’s fan club, I have not bothered the real man. What a wonderful feeling that is. Over the years I have dipped into the Ed Vedder delusion and have had the desire to write to him, but I never acted on it and that delusional feeling of connection faded again. So I’ve lowered my medications and that feeling of connection has resurfaced. Some of the voices have said that I should send Eddie Vedder something special when I’m 52 years old. Why that particular age? I don’t know. It all sounds suspect to me. What is strange to me is that I should have a deep impression of this man who I have never met and never will meet. From what I’ve seen and read, he’s a very happy man now carefully settled into a domestic life. If there were a connection, I think it would suck. I don’t want a connection to Ed Vedder. I want him to stay happy and safe in his life and for me to continue working it through in my life. I love my life. I am in recovery because I can stop and look at what I’m thinking and feeling and make the choice to turn away from delusion. For now, I’m holding my own, even at the lowered dose. I want to see how long it will take for me to fully let go. As long as I’m not a danger to myself or others, I can live with some of these symptoms because I don’t want to stay at the highest dose of Abilify. I’ve been on the highest dose of antipsychotics for about 10 years. It’s time to really test out this theory I have about the benefits of applying the spiritual path to one’s psychosis. In my journals there were times when I referred to the delusion as Ed/Not Ed because underneath it all I knew it wasn’t Eddie that I was connected to, but something else. Yet even so, for all the pain I went through over this Ed Vedder figure, a part of me needed to believe that on some intangible level that I actually did a good turn for the real man.
For some reason, these mysterious voices in my life, took my rather superficial attraction to Eddie Vedder and turned it into something symbolic and profound. Who is really the most God forsaken being on this planet? The sexually abused child who turns into a serial killer. In the deepest part of my psychosis the voices told me I was a holy woman and then that I was Jesus; then they flipped that on its head and told me I was the Antichrist and finally settled with Ed/Not Ed (as the Antichrist/Lucifer part) and me (as the Jesus part) -- two in one. The real point was to heal us both. So the story goes: Jesus returns in the form of an abused woman and sets out to heal the ones who have the most terrible existence, the most severe form of mental illness -- serial killers. But the Jesus delusion and the Ed Vedder delusion did not continue and I returned to being just Kate. I value being just Kate, an individual with no great purpose, but with a good heart and mind. I will fight to not cross over into a delusional construct that uses the image of a real man to convey false ideas. What I have to face in myself is the part I play in romance addiction. It is unfortunate that some of Mr. Vedder's words and music seem to foster romance addiction. Perhaps he's been a victim of the illness himself. Regardless of that, the responsibility of redirecting myself towards health is mine. This is a responsibility I acknowledge and accept. The prime directive is always to be non harming towards myself and others.