It is unfortunate that some people, including myself, have to endure an extreme chaotic situation or crisis, before getting the treatment we need. In addition to the ordinary stresses of life, in my experience, I suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of 20 that resulted in my arrest and hospitalization as a result of my unknown mental illness, Paranoid Schizophrenia. It is important to acknowledge the fact that I was and still am very involved in my community. I was a youth church teacher, assistant coach for the youth, student mentor in college, and a poll worker for the presidential election before the adult-onset schizophrenia disrupted my life. My family and I did not understand mental illness, its seems to have crept up on us, and stole my livelihood, personality, relationships, and ultimately my mind, before I started the recovery process.
The illness terrified myself, family, especially my mother, because she did not know if I would be able to function again. During my most challenging experiences with schizophrenia, I experienced auditory and visual hallucinations, the voices, sometimes only one, other times multiple voices, were discouraging and told me that 'I was a dishonor to my family,' the voices were cruel and confusing, especially because I thought the voices were coming from the people around me.
And the images, I'll never forget the thought and fear I had, that I was being followed. One of the images were of a man on an antique bicycle, it dreadful, no matter how hard I tried, I could not escape him, it was scary! I became extremely paranoid to the extent that I stopped eating because I thought others were trying to poison me. Eventually, I stopped taking care of myself, speaking, and even moving.
I thought the devil was communicating to me through the television and radio, trying to persuade me to commit suicide. Imagine watching a church service on T.V. and at the end of the program you see the words "How to Commit Suicide" on the screen to order tapes! it frightened me. Other times I thought I felt the devil's presence in people around and even in church, which was not a good feeling. I am glad I received treatment when I did before those thoughts got any worse, or before I acted on them.
Also, I believed I could read people's minds, and they read my mind as well- it was all confusing and exhausting. Eventually, I had no recollection of where I was, I thought family members were impostures, and my personality fluctuated depending on the severity of my delusions, which were bizarre.
I am thankful to be able to do the things I want and need to do. Also, I am thankful for treatment and all involved in my recovery (God, family, peers, NAMI, online friends and supporters like you, and health care professionals). I appreciate the opportunity to share my story with you, it is therapeutic to me and I hope beneficial to you, too. I encourage you to partake in whatever helps you or your loved one's recovery (i.e., therapy, support groups, journaling, hobbies, meditation on higher power, family and friends, etc.). My episodes and encounters around my experience with mental health are all true.