Rags-to-Riches, Imagined.

Submitted into Contest #16 in response to: Write a rags-to-riches story.... view prompt



Trigger Warning: Depicts insanity.

Many days past, I became trapped in my very own mind. I transgressed from the real world, where reality was constant to everyone, into a life only I knew – it was like living in a film of my own creation, one that I alone could see. I went from not having anything much at all to being one of the richest people in the world. I went from being a rudimentary intellect and a normal person to a genius who was odd. I went from average looks to exotically hot or tragically ugly, depending on the day. Of course, it was all fake. A circumstance that was only made real by my imagination and false perception of the things around me. I was insane.

Yet there was one constant throughout. I was inexplicably rich. Rich beyond anything I could imagine. I loved believing I was rich. It was my one consolation for a mind unhinged and a reality fraught with my imagination and harried by my illness. And yet, my wealth was imagined. I went from being reasonably poor to being extravagantly rich in the space of a moment’s thought. It was great, except that it wasn’t. Since the money wasn’t real, spending it all was a foolishly stupid act. Most of my decisions became ridiculous and my innocuous yet unbalanced mind rendered me immature beyond my years. I wanted the weirdest things and I wasn’t safe with a credit card or any amount of cash. If I had it, it was likely I would spend it. Thus, I went from rags to riches and back to rags again, even worse than before. I just did not realize it.

I began spending insanely. My reasoning had become so irrational, I bought everything and anything that struck my fancy. There were ample assortments of chocolates and sweets, odds and ends that I did not need and a large variety of clothes, not all of which I liked. I bought just to buy, and to gratify my disturbed mind as well as to please those people who lived in that cosy home that was my brain. The doctors had made it clear that these people were not real and while I understood that, I could not disregard their words while they lived in me. I couldn’t ignore them much the same way you cannot ignore a teenager blasting music in their room. These imagined people wanted to be heard, and heard they would be.

Their power was immense. Most, nay, all of my attempts at controlling them were futile. Their power was as everlasting as my creativity. If I could conceive of it, it was done. Some days I was a massive inventor. Others, I was King or Queen of some country or other. Sometimes, I was a God of various faiths. Once or twice, I lived in parallel and alien universes, stuck and unable to return. And, not infrequently, I existed only inside the parameters of a computer. It was a Hell incarnated and alive all around me, with the Devil as the host of some weird game show where I was the only competitor. At least, the only living and real competitor.

Such was my predicament from eighteen years to eight and twenty. And such were my foolish spending habits that I was more ragged and poorer than ever once I recovered from my terrible illness (plainly speaking, I had been diagnosed with Psychosis and mild Schizophrenia). I improved only to find that I had spent everything I owned and that I owed much more than I could make. I was in a hopelessly pathetic situation. Ten years had eroded all my savings and getting a job as a recovered psychotic was impractical. While my illness had been a terrible and cruel twist of fate it had also been fantastical. There was never a dull day but the days there were reduced every ounce of energy I did have into nothing. Meanwhile, regaining my mind had left me in a difficult situation. I had become liable once more. I was accountable to everything that had happened while I had been useless and ineffective. Poorer than ever, I had come full circle and I was not happy at the event, though it was still better than Psychosis.

It is ludicrous to suppose that I might prefer insanity, and I did not prefer it. However, it had brought with it a freedom. I was not expected to behave as other adults my age did. I was not responsible for my decisions. I lived in a world very different to yours. It was of my own creation and so I could even say that I enjoyed some days. But still, insanity is tiring and it sucked on my reserves of energy. Before my insanity had worn its course, I became exhausted waking up each day to a new idea, a new person, a new life, if you will. Every morning, I transformed from a drag queen to a psychologist, a teacher to a saint, a derelict to a King. If there was a type of person or a job I could imagine, I tried it.

The stress was incredible. I begun to hate my waking hours, longing only for sleep so I could escape into the pain free, abstract dreams that were still less abstract than my illness. While most people let their imagination reign free in their sleeping hours, this was when I relaxed, enjoying the peace of dreamless nights. While I slept, I wasn’t a Queen, or a God, or a character from a book like Dorian or Elizabeth, who both had enough of their own problems without my adding to them. I was just me. It was my time for me. For someone whose waking hours were filled to the brim with thoughts and epitaphs, it was necessary to have these dreamless sleeps where I could recuperate all the energy I had lost whilst awake. I needed sleep like most people need air.

Insanity had been proliferous. It taught me lessons as hard to learn as they had been constructive. It showed me that I was weak, but, also, that I was strong. It showed me that my imagination, when once it had been unleashed, knew no bounds. It showed me a new kind of logic and a world in which oddities both survived and thrived. As confused as I was, my life still made sense whilst I was ill. It just was. Now, I don’t remember why.

Towards the end, I had collapsed into debt, spending money I didn’t have and accruing things I neither needed nor wanted. It’s amazing what people will let you buy. What a nice surprise it was to emerge from over a decade of insanity only to find I was in colossal debt. So gigantic was it, I had to count the digits in order, just to understand it. Before, the zeros had merely blurred, giving me a false sense of security. And so, my bank statement had gone from a mediocre normal to an imagined rich to poor beyond my wildest dreams. A real and tragic rags-to-riches-to-debt story.


November 16, 2019 23:24

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Derek Williams
04:57 Nov 28, 2019

Wow. I am sorry that this happened to you. But I am glad that you wrote about it. Your story is amazing and it sounds as if you now have a handle on it. I hope this story will help others who have been in the same situation, and I pray that you are healed. Also, take heart about your debt - at least you could declare bankruptcy and be free of it if you need to do so; those with student loan debt do not have that luxury!


Rima El Boustani
15:59 Nov 28, 2019

Thanks for your kind words. As far as this piece goes the psychosis was real but the debt was exagerated for the purpose of the story. While I sometimes wanted things, they werent hugely expensive things and my parents were careful that they didnt let me be in a position to get into debt. Without their help I dont know where i would be. I have heard that spending can be a problem for people with memtal illnesses, although, and my mother mentioned that she almost felt that the story had even been written about a friend of hers (which it was...


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