Living With Schizophrenia: Theresa: August 2007 Archives

Theresa: August 2007 Archives

August 30, 2007

My Battle With Drugs

I didn't start using drugs regularly until I was 25. Before that, I occasionally smoked pot, drank and did acid. I actually tried pot for the first time after I found my father's stash and stole a couple of buds when I was 16. I did drink a little while I was a teenager. Once I got drunk on a babysitting job. I found their liquor, and drank myself into a stupor. They came home to me passed out on the couch and never invited me back to babysit. Big surprise, huh?

I got married to a real winner, after we gave up our daughter for adoption. He pushed LSD on me. So I did LSD with him. I stopped liking it though, and quit. I kept feeling this "darkness" overtaking me every time I did it. It would give me anxiety attacks, too. He really liked to drink, smoke pot and be controlling. He threatened to hit me a couple of times, and pushed me up against the stove once. We got happily divorced in 1995 after separating a year and a day after our daughter's first birthday.

When I started smoking pot regularly, it seemed to be the perfect solution to the depression I had suffered from since I had been a kid. I was volunteering at an illegal coffee house, mixing espressos and lattes and making Belgian waffles. Everyone who worked there smoked marijuana. That was how the owner paid the people who worked there. I got tired of feeling left out and started smoking pot when they all did.

I've never liked manufactured drugs and didn't want any pills for my depression, so I never went and saw anyone about it. I tried a couple of St. John's Wort capsules, but that, of course, didn't help. I didn't know that you have to take it on a regular basis. "Herb" seemed the perfect solution, and at first, it seemed to help me have a good time as well. It seemed to make me happier, but it increased my anxiety to the point where I couldn't handle being around people when I was high.

At first, I'd clean like crazy when I was high. It seemed to help me get more work done. Later, I didn't feel like doing much of anything while I was high. It stopped making me happier, too.

I began to have tactile hallucinations that same year. I thought it was the marijuana. It felt like someone was touching my genitals. At first this was pleasurable but soon became annoying, and then unwelcome. It didn't occur to me to tell a doctor about these hallucinations, first of all, because they were embarrassing, secondly, I didn't know how to tell anyone. The hallucinations happened whether I was high or not. Many explanations for these hallucinations occurred to me, including demons and ghosts. They'd happen regularly.

I kept smoking pot. I thought it was helping me cope. I associated with people who I knew better then to associate with. One of them was a child molester who began stalking me. I'd smoke in front of children, which I never thought was right. I ended up getting pregnant with a convicted rapist's child. He'd been a friend before he was convicted of date rape, and he continued to hang around after he got out of jail.
While pregnant, I moved in with a man I'd met in a bar, as a roommate. He was a gypsy. He didn't seem to care that I was pregnant. He kept pressuring me to take acid. Finally I gave in and took a half a hit. My cat killed his gerbil and he made me get rid of her. Finally he kicked me out for not keeping the house clean enough. Before that, I was driving his minivan while stoned, without a license. I'd pick up my pot smoking buddies and go get stoned.

My best friend stopped hanging out with me, because her drugs were "better" then mine. Hers are legal. She takes perscription painkillers. She's never without them. She's always telling the doctor she has bronchitis, but she never coughs. Her boyfriend and one of her other best friends are regular marijuana smokers. She used to be addicted to speed when she was a teenager.

After the birth of my daughter, the whole world went wacky. I started hearing voices, jumping at shadows and having other tactile, visual and audio hallucinations. I thought it was black magic, the devil, that I was in Hell, and that it could all be blamed on the marijuana. But, still I didn't quit smoking it. I had my daughter for about four months before they took her away from me. It was an extremely stressful situation. When I'd breast feed her, the tactile hallucinations would get worse. It was absolutely intolerable. It felt like rape. I'd get in a rage and shake her while breastfeeding.

I began to believe that vampires were after me, and that all my former friends had turned into vampires. Everything seemed to feed the delusion that I was being stalked by telepathic vampires. It didn't help that her father was stalking me and the child molester was stalking me. I could not handle being around anyone for very long, and even refused to let others into my house.

Finally, I decided that my daughter needed her family. I didn't know which family members to trust, so I started hitchiking in the middle of the night from Washington with the baby. I did not smoke pot during the few days I was on the road. I was heading towards Wisconsin or Minnesota. I got as far as Missoula, MT before I mentioned the vampires and had the cops called on me. They put my daughter in foster care. Convinced I'd never get her back I took a small bottle of sleeping pills. About an hour after that, I went to the hospital. They shoved tubes down my nose. At the time I believed the charcoal they were going to give me was vampire blood and that if I took it willingly, I would turn into a vampire. So I kept running away. Finally they strapped me down and forced me to take the charcoal.

After that, they put me in the hospital, where I was diagnosed with psychosis n.o.s.. They treated me with haldol. When they discharged me, I told them I wanted to go back to Washington. So they sent me back to Washington, and my daughter arrived in Washington a month later.

I picked back up with the marijuana habit when I got back. I continued to take my meds until I adopted out my daughter to the foster family. They would not give my daughter back to me while I was still in denial about my mental illness and still smoking pot. I didn't want to quit smoking pot, and I couldn't accept the fact that I was mentally ill. The foster family offered to adopt her. I told them, finally, that as long as they didn't change her first and middle names, I would adopt her out to them.

I lost my housing, which was conditional on me having a child. I could not deal with the idea of moving, so finally they came to kick me out with the cops and I had to leave all my stuff behind, except what I could carry.

That was the beginning of three years of homelessness. I travelled down to California. I was too paranoid to beg my so called friends to let me stay with them. I smoked pot whenever I could get my hands on it and drank occasionally. I hitchhiked around the country, making sure I went to every one of the continental 48 states. It was a dangerous lifestyle, but it seemed less dangerous then making like a sitting duck sitting in one place. This also enabled me to find more pot, money, and food. I was too paranoid of landlords, etc. to move into a place. I did not feel like, with my mental illness, anyone would let me move in with them.

It all ended when I came back to Wisconsin in 2002. My sobriety date is July 12, 2002, because the day before that date I was arrested for burglary. The night I committed burglary, I had been getting drunk and singing karaoke. I'd been having many conversations with "God" in my head and He "told" me to burn down my dad's house. So I did that after taking a blanket and fishing pole from his garage (burglary). They later charged me with arson.

I spent a year and a half in jail before they let me plead NGI to arson. They sent me to a mental institution where I was committed for twenty years. They gave me ten years probation for the burglary. I'm now out on conditional release. That's where they diagnosed me with paranoid schizophrenia. I've since come to terms with my mental illness, and my need for medication.

I'm thankful I'm back to a sober lifestyle. I'm even more thankful I've got sober people to hang around with. I learned my lesson about hanging out with and associating with drug addicts. Eventually, they'll drag you down with them, if they aren't in recovery.

And, that's my story.

August 25, 2007

Losing my best friends...

First off, I wish to say that I have made new friends, although none I could call a best friend. I still miss my two best friends, Bonnie and Angie.

The stigma of this illness, I'm sure, is what caused them to cut off all communication with me. Maybe, they just don't trust me to make sense or act "normal." In the past, I've acted very irrationally, and when I was paranoid made accusations that weren't true. Bonnie isn't speaking to me any more. I thought, when I was actively psychotic, that I was receiving clairvoyant and precognitive visions. I also thought I had telepathy. I saw her boyfriend molest her son in my head and assumed it was a real experience for the boy. I saw many children molested in my head. The thoughts were very bothersome. I assume this was caused, in part, by the fact that I was seriously molested when I was eight years old. I actually saw people that could be child molestors when I was travelling around. People who would hold their child by the crotch or set a child on their crotch. At one point I actually believed every man was a rapist and a child molester. I was quite paranoid. It was very scary. I did try to stop these people from possibly molesting children by calling the police on them or talking to firemen about it. I was scared of all cops, too, and believed they were all perpetrators of domestic violence. I did have some violent experiences with several cops which only fed my paranoid delusions.

Anyway, I wrote about what I saw Randy, Bonnie's boyfriend, do to her son in my head and published it on a website, along with the names of several men, some of whom were actually sexually abusive, and some of whom weren't. I also thought that he was raping my best friend. She never forgave me for that.

Actually, she's no saint. I should know better then to expect forgiveness from a drug addict. But, I figured after 9 years of loyal friendship, free babysitting in the mornings when she refused to get up with her children, helping her out in general with her two kids, and other things I did for her, she'd miss me enough to forgive me. But, alas, no, it was not to be. She never did say thank you for the things I did for her kids. If she ever saw me crying, she'd get disgusted with me. But then again, she was there for me after my divorce. Her mother let me stay with them after me and my ex husband separated, because I didn't have anywhere else to go. I was happy to let her do most of the talking, since I've always been the quiet type. She can be quite charming when she wants to be, and is a consummate actress. I was always amazed at all the puns she could come up with. I even tutored her in precalculus when she was in community college.

She expected so much, though. I have to honestly say she took me for granted. As soon as her son was old enough not to run out in the streets in the mornings, I left Bellingham, WA where we lived and went down to California. This was the time I gave my youngest daughter up for adoption. I didn't trust any of the friends and other associates with my daughter, and I was afraid Bonnie would talk me into ignoring my daughter or spanking her, like she used to do with her kids. We spent almost every day together. I really miss her. At one point, I thought she had turned into a vampire. I got my ideas about vampires from the author, Anne Rice. This is when I stopped talking to her or visiting her. I thought she was inside my head.

My other best friend, Angie, was my childhood best friend. As we grew up, we kind of grew apart. We had vastly different philosophies on whether or not to have children, and religion. She's Christian; I'm not. But we managed to preserve the friendship anyway. We were friends from 1980 to 2002 (22 years). She found out that I tried to burn down my dad's house and joined my family in obtaining a no contact order. Her mother died when I was in jail for that crime; she had a massive heart attack. I wish I had been able to comfort her.

I may have drove her away when I was paranoid that she was getting beat up. Songs on the radio suggested to me that she was getting beat up, and I was really worried about it. She actually became a little irked that I grilled her. I met Walter, her live in boyfriend, once a long time ago, but don't remember what he looks like.

She's a vetrinary technician. Apparently she makes enough to buy a house, which I've never seen. I really miss her too. She was a good source of support when I was growing up and going through my awkward teenage years. She and her mother would let me help myself to fruit in their dining room, and provided an empathic ear when I'd go off about my stepmonster's (adoptive mother by law) emotional abuse.

Maybe, someday she'll become better educated about schizophrenia and forgive me for what I did to my father and stepmonster. She doesn't understand that my father is abusive too, since I never complained about him growing up. I think I was trying too hard to love the man.

Anyway, thanks for reading this. I had to get this off my chest.

August 9, 2007

Living with schizophrenia

It's been about three years since I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is an organic brain disease that affects all areas of its victim's lives. Dopamine, a brain chemical, overloads the brain with stimuli. I couldn't believe at first, that I had this disease. It was denial at its finest. It has affected me all my life.

It started with delusions of persecution. I really believed I was being picked on and that my parents and all the kids at school were out to get me. My stepfather's abuse and my father's refusal to communicate didn't help matters any. I had depression and would have fits of crying. Anything said to me could be interpreted as an insult. I would lose my temper as a result of paranoia.

I also had delusions of grandeur, although these didn't develop until later. I believed I was a powerful shaman, clairvoyant and an empath with magical abilities. I went on a spiritual quest that involved hitchhiking. I believed God was talking to me inside my head, and I heard Him say He would provide shelter every night I was away. I did manage to find shelter the entire time I was on my spiritual quest which further strengthened the delusion that God was talking to me.

Madness had its benefits. Convinced I could be a powerful healer, I studied herbs and graphology. I studied Buddhism and considered myself enlightened. I learned a lot about religion and herbs. I always have been smart with a gift for speed reading, math and writing. Knowledge led to greater power. I could predict my friends' emotions, and my knowledge of pop psychology allowed me to help friends. I completed four years of college finally quitting in 1995 because of paranoia.

I truly had a split personality. I had the one who played God inside my head and the one who studied healing. I referred to myself in the third person. Paranoid thoughts were often right about men's intentions toward me. I was afraid of getting beaten up and of manufactured drugs. It kept me out of long term abusive relationships where I could have gotten beat up. Sometimes it paid to be paranoid.

The hallucinations began later. They started occuring in 1997. I had just given birth to my second daughter. I believed ghosts or angels were talking to me out loud. Sometimes I thought it was the devil. It felt like there was somebody touching me in private places and sometimes in other places. The physical hallucinations were terrifying; I was being raped by my own mind.

These hallucinations drove me out of my apartment. I started to believe every man I had ever been with raped me. I believed I was being hunted by telepathic vampires. I also believed at some points in time that Satan or demons were raping me. To protect my newborn daughter from vampires, stalkers and her father, a convicted rapist, I took off hitchhiking with her. In Missoula, Montana they took her away from me because I let it be known that I was running away from vampires. They put me in a homeless shelter where I felt so hopeless and depressed I took sixteen sleeping tablets in an attempt to commit suicide. They put me in the mental ward of St. Patrick's hospital where they diagnosed me with psychosis NOS (Not otherwise specified) and treated me with haldol. Haldol is worse then being paranoid. They put my daughter in foster care.

Shortly after this incident I went down to Navajo country on a bus to save the Navajo with my great shamanic powers. They were being relocated from Black Mesa because of a Peabody coal mine to a nuclear dump site. I wrote about it and sent copies of the article to several newspapers and magazines. Nobody published my article.

I was able to stay on my meds for about a year before paranoia about them took over. I heard they caused weight gain, and I didn't want to gain any weight. I went off them and lost my apartment and everything in it, because I gave my daughter up for adoption and subsequently lost my housing. I was too sick to move out after the state took my housing away, so I became homeless. The hallucinations continued.

I was too paranoid to stay in one place very long. I hitchhiked all over the country convinced I could follow ley lines (lines of power) and heal the Earth. I felt safer outside, by myself, rather then being around people. By this time I had distanced myself from family and friends with my accusations and fears, so I had nobody to stay with. On the positive side, I saw quite a bit of California.

I finally got treatment again after I tried to burn down my father's house because I thought God told me to, and I was convinced he was out to get me. That was in July 2002. They sentenced me to twenty years in a mental institution on October 31, 2003. I spent over a year in jail. All of my hallucinations stopped along with all of my delusions after they put me on Abilify. I was on Risperdal for two and a half years, but I gained too much weight and they changed my medication. The benefits of Risperdal outweighed the disadvantages.

All of these thoughts were out of control, which is why they seemed like they were coming from outside of me. I used to believe all the songs I heard on the radio were songs written to me. I really thought someone was trying to communicate with me. I felt like my thoughts were being broadcast, because I could hear voices responding to them. I felt like unrelated conversations had something to do with me. I was using marijuana for the years 1995 to 2002, but it really only made me more paranoid. I'm glad I got treatment that works now.

I plan to go back to college in the future. All of my knowledge and intelligence as well as my history of helping others as a housekeeper and tutor has been a boon to my self esteem. It has been a long, scary battle with schizophrenia, homelessness, depression, and abuse from stepparents, but I've made it. I finally am finding that all that good advice from self-help books is working.

October 14, 2006

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Theresa in August 2007.

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