“I am not my psychosis”

I was 17 when it really started. I didn’t know the voice was not me, I thought I just had really disturbed thoughts. I blamed myself for having vicious, violent ideas. The hallucinations started when I was a junior in high school. They were very minor. At their worst several instances per hour. I would see people with weapons looking through doors, windows, cracks in closets. For this and suicidality I was hospitalized the first time.

Things got really bad at the start of my senior year. I went into a hospital for suicidality and light hallucinations (noticing a theme?). The psychosis picked up in the hospital. Instead of being hourly they were constant, 1-4 at any given time. Spiders crawled on me, hands grabbed me, people with weapons darted in and out of doors and rooms. Sometimes I could separate them from reality and sometimes they blended. A creeping paranoia accompanied the hallucinations, turning me against people who were trying to help. The voice, which had now multiplied, became more apparent. My doctor at the time told me they were “sticky thoughts,” like those with OCD had. I knew they were different.

Things always picked up at night. Whether that was a natural cycle or an effect of the short half life of my meds I don’t know. I remember counting 2-4 hallucinations at any given time. Sometimes people with blacktop mottled skin and spears, sometimes just normal people who didn’t happen to be real. I tried closing my eyes. Someone grabbed me on my shoulder and said “Paul.” When I looked up there was no one there. The next night I tried to close my eyes to block everything out again. I heard “Paul,” and opened them only to be kicked in the face by someone with boots. I looked down and could see the blood. Then it all vanished. I became afraid to close my eyes. I would close them and force myself to count to 15 before I opened them and scanned the room for hallucinations. Once I was out of the hospital it took me about 4 months to hit 45 seconds. Now, at the end of my senior year, I can go for about 2 minutes.

This story has a happy ending. A serious dose of an antipsychotic and a mood stabilizer knocked out the hallucinations and voices. I went back to high school and graduated. I still struggle with paranoia and on the odd night, especially if I’m tired, the hallucinations come back. Allot of people see me as very stable. I am. But that could all come tumbling down if this thing flares up again. I’m prepared to go to a hospital again if I need to do. I accept I will probably have to at some point in the future. Whatever it takes to recover and stay healthy.