I’ve lived in a tormented mind where there was no escape. I was so sedated from the auditory illusions that fed my self destructive behavior that my day was consumed to asking the closest people in my life if “the others” were going to kill me right now.
I was freshly clean from drugs and alcohol, I wasn’t able to cope, and was paranoid beyond something my rational mind couldn’t withhold. People don’t believe me as I am, or were, creative, smart, and intellectual. But, my problem was that my tortured past was hurting me, but the past wasn’t gone. The experiences stuck while, what I thought was terror, came in the shape of voices telling me to hurt myself further. The most common voice that still tries to get me says this, “Hit yourself in the head until dead, or I’ll do it for you.”
I would hear them during the day and during the night, they wouldn’t go away simply because I wanted to. The paranoia made it worse, but the voices made me more paranoid. It wasn’t distracting, it was frightening. I was panicking while they tell me I’m not worth it, giving the voice a shape in the form of reality. I had to ask, “Mom, will it kill me?” The problem would be that she didn’t know what I was asking reprieve from. “Honey, there’s no one there,” she would reply. I asked her, not once, not twice, but as many times as it took for the voices to go away, “Do you promise? Don’t let me die? Don’t let it hurt me? Are you sure I won’t die?” The problem was that I thought an assassin or some malevolent being was out to get me, and I feared for my life. But no one knew I did as I heard all too often, “Brian you don’t look like your suffering, your face is so calm!” This is what my doctor would tell me, all to be known that this is a key symptom and sign of schizophrenic tendencies. “Being unaware that you are truly mentally ill.” As I told him, “Yeah? Am I really that good at hiding IT?”
I only had a couple of visual hallucinations but they were extreme. The most times it would come were the night. I would look back and scream while walking, as the pacing was the only thing to help “ease” my panic and paranoia. I would see “shapes” almost like a reaper from Harry Potter, but nothing I could make out. Other fantasies included sharp objects like needles accompanied by the voice of the man who had first shot me up with heroin. Oh how I so still remember the gap in his two front teeth! The only thing I knew was to scream, run, and try to not have a heart attack while the voices were mumbling nasty nonsense things to me, almost like an under the breath tone.
The doctor wrote this off to my chronic heroin, alcohol, and pill abuse. He says, “This is to be expected while detoxing…” but I never knew it would go on for nearly two years into my recovery. I hadn’t seen this doctor again or maybe it would have been easier to put the dots together with a diagnosis sooner, but that’s why it’s called a detox center. You detox and then leave!
I didn’t have a split personality, but I was living in fear and a stigmatized lifestyle of mental illness that no one could understand. I would be mocked for not being able to look people in the eyes, but this was because I was afraid I would be told something even more evil than before. I’m not sure why, but with that on top of chronic pacing, it hit an all time peak while I was 2 and a half hours away from home, living away at college to try and “escape” from my “symptoms.” No one had any clue, and the hallucinations would go away from time to time when I would have this “fun” at the University, but one triggering night made me lose it all.
I had a build up of drug related and alcoholic triggers from living on a wet campus. I couldn’t figure out what was bugging me as I thought my mind had eased prior to this; but I was wrong. My false beliefs came back and I thought I would handle it by myself. I didn’t understand I was mentally ill, although I wasn’t at my first break anymore, I was at the “control” stage of it, or so I’d thought.
One night, the night, the last night before the first semester ended, was a night I had missed something important to me, something I’m still not comfortable talking about to this day (no not my sobriety!), but it was gone and I had a full blown mental breakdown. I almost killed myself in front of my parents a week later after dropping out of the University for one semester. I told them that someone was “making me” do this, and I was immediately admitted, on hold, to the Psychiatric Unit at a local medical hospital. It took another 5 months to get my mind “straight” and back on track with what I had missed, but to date I have not had the urge to kill myself again. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise to almost lose it all, in order to finally rid myself of that awful prison I was stuck in!
Today I have outbursts, but I wouldn’t call them schizophrenic tendencies. I don’t know what came first, the mental health or the drug abuse. But, I did start drugging at the age of thirteen, whereas the first signs of schizophrenia won’t come on until young adulthood.
I was given insight by someone close to me that the chemical imbalance could have came from all of my youth years of self-medicating, as drug addiction is no joke folks. I was battling the grips of what I call, “schizoid tendencies” while trying to get and stay clean. This is more common than you would think in a psychological standpoint after detoxing from heroin, alcohol, and psychiatric pill abuse. But, nonetheless I still had to try and rid myself of it.
In my life, due to the mental health stigma I’ve heard things like, “Just get over it,” or, “Be a man,” or “We can’t see anything wrong, so what’s wrong?” and I would believe it. It would lead me to becoming isolated with my illness and no way to fix it, yet it pushed me to the brink of suicide and passive aggressive homicidal thoughts. So I will say it again, I found what I had lost and today I am healthy mentally, drug free, and sober. It has gotten better and I’ve not had an incident since returning to my University six months after my episode.
I’ve accepted things in my life, which gives me hope that the outbursts won’t come back and that it was just a symptom of the detoxification and prolonged lack of recovery. Although I won’t lie when I say that I still hear things in my mind, but today I treat them as things to drive me forward while keeping the things I lost as mementos to push for success in recovery, but I know what a life “just sober” is like, and I don’t want that. Today I want recovery and I have support from family and friends, so just for today I am healthy and schizoid tendency free.
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