I was always very curious and wanted to experience what other people never had. Little did I know that the inclination and pursuit for the unknown would result in a diagnosis, although in my teenage years when everyone was thinking about what they would be working with, I couldn’t think of anything other than being in a mental hospital (as a patient). At that point I wasn’t even diagnosed and had a pretty smooth social life, but my thoughts were are always very different than everybody else so it was kind of a joke I made to myself. I had no idea that continuing down that path would actually put me in a mental hospital.
But it did. I was depressed since my early teenage years, questioning the world around me and not really receiving much support on that matter. Friends and family were very loving, but my thoughts were too bizarre and abstract for them to engage with and help me develop that skill of unconventional thinking. So I thought I was misplaced, that I was probably missing something for not being able to connect to other people with my most honest and truly harmless investigations into the nature of being and existence.
In my late teenage years I started hearing voices, and I perceived that as the beginning of that ‘experience’ where no one else had ever been. I was glad that I could communicate directly with that unknown, rather than having to rely on other people to get closer to it or understand it better. This wasn’t all glitter and rainbows though, there was darkness. I was often afraid of being in contact with this ‘other world’, but I took upon myself to be courageous and understand it, to get closer to it, although with extreme care. Slowly but surely I was plunging into deep and troubling waters.
The sporadic voices, the whispers, became louder and more often. My vision was seeing things that others didn’t seem to notice. At first, I understood that animals communicate with us. Not with voices, but with gestures mostly. I would talk to them with my mind, because my mind helped me gesture to them. I could form concepts in my mind, phrases and questions that would later have to be translated into gestures for the animals. And they would gesture in return, hoping that I would understand what they formulated in their own minds. I am sure I many times misunderstood them, but I also am positive that we understood each other at times. Now, of course, one could say this was all a delusion. But the fact is, there was no one else there either. What does it really matter if it is true for another person, if that person wasn’t even there to be part of it? Anyway, this was one of the beauties from walking this path, being able to communicate with so many different things – seen or unseen – even if the communication wasn’t perfect or efficient at all.
Of course, when I realized that there was so much to communicate with it quickly became overwhelming. And that is when we could agree that I started rolling downhill. I felt too capable for too little instruction and knowledge. Power carries responsibility and I didn’t have all that responsibility, didn’t even know what it meant for all that I was in contact with! Nobody had ever told me that I could communicate with so many things, so how would I have known how to do it?! So, confusion ensued as I attempted to integrate the social world with the ‘other world’. I ended up medicated and in the hospital.
Then I struggled a bit finding medication that wouldn’t put me out completely. I had lost my temper many times, frustrated that I couldn’t make other people understand, appreciate and communicate to all things in the universe. Being a very passionate person, they gave me a pretty strong anti-psychotic to start with (Haldol). It really dimmed my awareness, made me dull, without that fire to keep seeking the unknown. The voices receded, I wasn’t connected anymore, I was isolated, like all other human beings that couldn’t understand how there was so much connection.
Eventually I stopped taking Haldol because it made me so stuck and lethargic. Then my visions became less “internalized”, less dependent on interpretation. There were ‘other-worldly’ creatures being projected onto surfaces or otherwise fusing into objects, sometimes just hanging mid-air like a hologram. Colors would flash by, dots, lines (rather line segments), all moving in their own life but always seemingly relating to the environment or my own behavior. This was half-tormenting and half-exhilarating. Very emotionally intense in many ways. Often I could feel these visual movements like slashes or knives carving into my subtle energetic body, waves of sensation producing a variety of effects, usually bridging into more and more sensation like a chain-reaction. This was very troubling as I began to lose what I call “availability”. I wasn’t able to wash the dishes for example, because I had to stay as quiet as possible or distracting myself in a certain way. If I washed the dishes and used soap in a certain way, or water in a certain way, or touched the dishes in a certain way, then that could unleash that everlasting reaction of increasing internal sensation – often accompanied with visuals and sounds.
Eventually I started taking a new medication, Zyprexa. That helped me to become distant from all that intense experience. It didn’t stop it from happening, but I wasn’t so absorbed and involved in it. I had the chance to step back and look at it without being a “crucial piece” (think about clockwork, depending on how one gear works all other work or not). Again, that same sort of isolation as with Haldol, but this time not so severe.
With this medication I could still be relatively active. It was hard work, it took effort, but it wasn’t like Haldol that just pinned me down. I had some sense of freedom and connectivity. Fortunately enough, I was introduced to community gardens. And that is when my healing really started. Working with the soil and with plants, helping other people grow food that would make all of us healthy, I started seeing improvement all around. It took time, a lot of discipline and support from my parents. Diet, Vitamins, medication, and gardening. I was beginning to become stronger.
Eventually I went back to college and found my niche with the environmental peeps and the college garden. Stopped taking anti-psychotics. Now I am off to UC Berkeley!