This may be triggering for its mention and description of abuse, psychosis, mental illness, physical trauma, and delusions.
I had a good job working in a lab and I was in my mid 20’s. I had been working there for many years, starting low and working my way up the ranks. After a while there I began to realize how fortunate I was for my success. I wanted to give back and help others who may not have been so lucky. It started with volunteering, but as I learned more about current world issues, it soon led into protesting. While I was very passionate, I also was very frustrated. When protesting didn’t work to change things I became frustrated and disillusioned. I started to resent my job and my work suffered.
Then one day I had a bicycle accident and hit my head and hurt my knee. I don’t remember the accident itself, but somehow I managed to make it back to my apartment and my roommates took me to the hospital. From there I fell into an even deeper depression. I was barely eating, I stopped going to doctors appointments and when it was time to report back to work I suffered a panic attack and couldn’t even show up.
From there I was fired from my job, then I had to leave my apartment. I moved in with my mother and her boyfriend, but I was in an emotional downward spiral which was not helped by my mother’s bipolar disorder or the clashing political opinions of myself and her boyfriend. I socially isolated myself from there, sleeping during the day and staying up all night. I was frustrated with the world and was growing more and more desperate looking for the answer to the world’s problems.
Then one day I heard a voice. I thought I was receiving a telepathic message. It warned me that I would be experiencing some strange things but that no mater what I was not to directly question what was going on. Only through indirect questions would I be able to learn more.
My delusions continued to grow from that day. Thinking that people on the radio and television were sending me messages and making fun of me for not understanding. Thinking that my mother was poisoning me and magically manipulating me. Believing that I had died and was in some kind of afterlife limbo. Finally one day I had had enough and directly confronted my mother about what I thought was going on. I ended up holding her down in a chair and drawing cat whiskers on her face, which in my mind, was marking her as a witch and therefore removing her power over me. She ran away scared of me and called the police.
The first hospital they sent me to was a very negative place. The staff was verbally and physically abusive, but what scared me most was that in my delusional state of mind I believed that I had died and that I would spend the rest of eternity there. That was my scariest moment. After I was there for a while, they tried me on a couple different medications and this one took away all of my psychotic symptoms. It took awhile but I was able to think back over my experience and see how irrational so many of my delusional thoughts had been. It was truly a learning experience.
Eventually they send me to a second hospital, which was much better. Most of the staff there were very supportive and caring. I got a job working in at the cafe there and cooked people their breakfasts. I began to understand that it is very hard to feel useful and sad at the same time. I was also able to get support from people there, and it made me realize how important such support is. I was lucky that my family visited me very often and expressed more than words can say their caring for me.
When I was released I signed up for the peer specialist training class. Taking the same motivation for helping others that had motivated me to volunteer and protest, it seemed a way I could help others using my time in the hospital. Taking the class has been a great learning experience, not only have I learned how to help others, but it has taught me a lot about myself and my own potential.
Although it was challenging making it in the ‘real world’ after nearly 2 years in a psych hospital, I started taking my first steps. I got a job working at a local grocery store to get used to the work environment again, and am pursing a career in either lab work or as a peer specialist. It has been a long and trying journey, but I feel wiser and kinder for it.
-A Certified Peer Specialist