So who am I and what is my story?
Growing up, I was always an exceptional student with a tendency for perfectionism. I graduated at the top of my high school class. At one point in my adult life, I was working two jobs and one of my jobs became very stressful because of being understaffed. By the summer of that year I had my first psychotic episode.
I had not used drugs, but I did have an aunty who had schizophrenia. To date I have had four psychotic episodes, and I also have a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
I have experienced many different symptoms including a variety of delusional beliefs. One was that I felt something really bad was going to happen if I did the wrong thing; that I was at the center of a big experimental conspiracy and I absolutely had to do everything right. I would sometimes become almost nonverbal and frozen as I tried to process reality.
By my third episode, I started to have hallucinations. I would hear things inside my head – sometimes sounds and sometimes voices. I thought that I was getting them “beamed” to me by satellite.
I was also getting visual hallucinations that looked like transparent, ghostlike figures. I would fight the transparent figures, alone in my room at night. I wanted them to leave me alone, so I would punch and kick at the air. (I never saw ghosts in public, so I never acted this way in public – keeping up the façade that I was ok.)
I experienced tactile hallucinations – feeling things on the skin or around you that aren’t really there.
When I would be in public around children, I was really worried that they were in danger. Specifically, I thought that someone wanted to dig their eyes out. So whenever I walked by a child, I would say in my head “No one digs their eyes out,” as if my words could protect them.
At my worst point I was living in a state of constant fear and paranoia, absolutely unable to trust other people or reality as a whole.
While my symptoms were getting worse, my life was falling apart. I lost 5 jobs due to mental illness. I also moved 4 times because of it; mostly because I couldn’t trust my roommates. I had problems in almost all of my close relationships – with family, with friends, and with partners.