House of Fun or House of Horrors?

11 Jan 2023

Some people pay good money for this; you might even be one of them. You enter willingly into this fairground attraction where the first thing to greet you is an undulating floor. There is no sense of stability, and you lurch, staggering, towards the exit.

Entering the next room, you find yourself at one end of a long corridor. Except, it isn’t: the effect is cunningly produced by trompe l’oeil. That far away door is really a very small door. The long passage simply becomes narrower. Your eyes are deceived.

Having squeezed through the tiny door, you discover yourself to be in a small room, where the floor drops away from you, sending your stomach sickeningly into your throat. The room is a lift. It stops just as suddenly, and you stumble.

You stumble into an enormous room, the walls covered entirely with mirrors. These mirrors show distortions of reality. In one you shrink; in one you grow to immense height; in one you are fat and in another you are thin. In some of them you lose whole body parts, so your chin rests upon your knees.

And all this is fun! People laugh and clutch each other. “Look at us!” they snort, as they see the grotesque images in the glass.

My point is the people entering the House of Fun know that none of this is real. For some of us, however, having no control over when we enter our own mental House of Fun, it is a House of Horrors.

When I’m in the depressive part of my bipolar cycle, some of these things happen to me. I lose my sense of balance, so the floor lurches, and objects are not reliably where I think they will be. My head seems to grow and hit the ceiling, and my arms are ten feet long. 

I found my symptoms to be a lot less scary when I started to see that they were not real. Yes, it felt as if my head would hit the ceiling, but I could still control it. If I moved carefully, I could navigate the dancing floor. If I concentrated, I could judge distances.

I now try to treat this as a “House of Fun.” I’m not going to laugh and think it all a jolly good time, but it really helps knowing it’s just something my brain chemicals induce. The chemicals are deceiving me, just as the trompe l’oeil and the wavering mirrors do.

It is not just physical symptoms, but mental and emotional ones too. I was recently prescribed some medication, the side effects of which produced suicidal thoughts.  Fortunately, I recognised where they were coming from. These thoughts were not real: they were just part of the “Fun House.”

So, take a step back from yourself and analyse what’s happening to you. Don’t accept everything as real – because a lot of it may be illusion. You may own your very own Fun House of Horrors.


A Moodscope member

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