September Warrior – Anonymous

September Warrior – Anonymous

Here we are again! It’s the 15th of the month so let’s dive into someone’s story of mental health struggles.

This month is a little bit different but I could not be more excited for you to read it. This month we have an anonymous submission about schizophrenia. I’ve been wanting to have someone write for me with with illness for quite a while as I feel it’s very important to discuss. The media has portrayed schizophrenia as a very dangerous and violent illness, when that’s really not the case. It saddens me that we judge so quickly the second we even hear the word. So, here we are, with an explanation as to what it’s really like to suffer from this mental disorder.

** If you have any questions, please comment and I will gladly pass along the question and add the answers to this post

 

Saturday morning. September 2014.

 

I wake up one morning, hungover as fuck because it’s Saturday. But something’s wrong. Something isn’t right.

Then I remember.

Last night, I was raped. But not only that, I killed someone.

Over the next couple weeks, I begin piecing it together. I was raped by at least a dozen people. And the person I killed?

She was an infant.

It was an accident, I dropped her because I had become so paranoid from all the events that happened that night, I had become convinced that no one could be trusted, everyone was trying to fuck with me.

I go see a psychiatrist. I’m only able to tell him a little about what had happened, it was still fresh in my memory. I only get as far as telling him I was raped when he cuts me off.

“None of this was in the news. You’re schizophrenic. It’s very serious.”

Over the next four years, every time I tried to talk about what happened, my psychiatric nurse would try to poke holes in my story, and convince me that it didn’t happen. I turned to drinking, no one would let me acknowledge my emotions and identify them, so I chose to numb them with alcohol. One day I wake up with tremors and decided that drinking wasn’t going to bring her back.

I stopped drinking 70 beers a week cold turkey.

3 months into my sobriety, it hits me.

 

I didn’t just kill a baby girl.

I went on a killing spree.

A year prior to sobering up, I had gone on a second killing spree in the bar I worked at. But why wasn’t I in prison? The story got a lot more complicated. Each time I had tried to reach out to people and get them to tell me what happened, they pretended not to know what I was talking about.

 

I black out for a month. I stupidly was mixing antipsychotics. Part of alcohol withdrawal is psychosis, and that’s how it expressed itself. Towards the end of that month, I raped and murdered a woman I liked.

 

My psychiatrist gave me an ultimatum.

 

“Either you commit yourself voluntarily to the psychiatric ward, or we’ll be forced to Certify you.”

 

I spent a week in the psych ward.

 

A week after I’m discharged, I go to the hospital to pick up a friend. A familiar car parks beside mine, and out steps the woman I had murdered a few weeks prior. I chat with her, briefly, and get into my car and ask my friend if she saw me talking to someone just now.

 

“Yeah, why?”

 

Then it all makes sense.

 

I never killed anyone. What I had experienced were psychotic breaks.

 

Dreams can happen at any point, not just when you’re sleeping. These are called psychotic episodes. My psychiatrist explained that when I black out, I can’t remember a thing from those moments, and my mind frantically tries to piece together what happened based on what’s happening before and after the episode. People who develop schizophrenia often have vivid imaginations as children. That’s essentially what a memory is, your imagination recreating those events. But as with dreams, it’s not during the dream we acknowledge it, it’s when we wake up. What happens in my episodes is basically what’s going on in my subconscious. The word “schizophrenia” means “split mind”, referring to how the mind is split between the conscious and the subconscious. Episodes themselves have a dark cloud over everything, they feel like repressed memories, but they aren’t. They’re just like any other dream, except much, much more vivid. The scariest part about them is total loss of self control. Any thought gets either expressed verbally (side note: what is colloquially referred to as “truth serum” is any drug or combination of drugs that induce a psychotic break) or acted upon. Or so I perceive. In reality, I’m catatonic. Psychotic breaks happen when the brain shuts off.

 

So what actually happened in September 2014?

 

“You were extremely drunk, started yelling at people, then *roommate* took you home and you passed out on the bathroom floor.”

 

There was no killing sprees. I was likely never raped.

 

I don’t know why my episodes are so violent. I’m the least violent person I know. That may be why; all my violent urges get suppressed until I express them in my schizophrenic nightmares. Or it could be because the media loves to report on violent schizophrenics, subconsciously telling myself and everyone else that schizophrenic people are violent. In actuality, schizophrenic people are just as unlikely to be violent as the average person. If anything, they’re more likely to be taken advantage of. The people who do get reported in the news are usually people who have a history of being violent.

 

Depending on the source you read, the prevalence of schizophrenia varies. The DSM-V says anywhere from 0.3-0.7% of the population suffers from schizophrenia spectrum. Some sources say as much as 2% of the population suffers from it.

 

As far as living my life, I can be quite reclusive. I can be a little (read: very) eccentric. My medication has helped immensely, as well as abstaining from alcohol and drugs. I’m all for marijuana being legalized, I used to smoke it heavily. However, if you look at those lists at pot shops at the conditions weed can medicate, you will NOT find schizophrenia or psychosis. Here’s why: weed exacerbates psychotic symptoms. It makes me revisit my episodes and add more to the already horrific story.

 

I’m happy to answer any questions. The two most common questions are “Do you take meds?” and “Are you violent?” In respect to the first question, that’s like asking a diabetic if they take insulin, the second question is just plain ignorant. My grandmother had schizophrenia as well, she was the nicest person in the world. She also believed she had done terrible things, but she hadn’t.

 

Thank you for reading, and I hope I’ve shed some light on the nature of my illness. Feel free to ask Cierra any questions and I’ll be happy to answer them.

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