“…this is a very disturbed boy with clearly homicidal and suicidal thoughts. Without consistent psychiatric care and a prescription for strong psychotropic medication, there is little chance he will succeed.” I predict…”
I He was eight years old when the report from which this excerpt is based was written. This is an excerpt from one of the many reports he wrote about me during my dozens of hospitalizations in psychiatric facilities. At the time this article was written, I was starting his third treatment and he had already been on adult-level antipsychotics since he was 3 years old. Please take a moment to absorb it. I was 8 years old.
what does it say about child How could a psychiatrist so clearly identify them as “highly distraught” and have “obvious homicidal and suicidal thoughts” in them?
I have never turned away from the reality of my mental illness. I couldn’t afford to pretend I was okay. Mine wasn’t a subtle delusion or a quiet madness festering deep in the invisible minds of those around me. My mental illness was an unstable thing that violently invaded every aspect of my childhood. In the early days, I was too young to know what was wrong with me or how to deal with it, so I struggled to just get through the day without wishing I was dead.
Can you understand the feeling of isolation that comes with the knowledge that there is something fundamentally wrong with you, but no one knows what it is or how to help? Not being able to control your own mind , I can only imagine the helplessness I felt knowing I couldn’t stop the demons in my head from screaming at me and seeing things so awful that I wished I couldn’t see. Do you have it?
Do you know what it’s like to be a knowing kid? as a fact It’s not just them that their parents are scared of. of they?
I was seven years old when I learned that my father was afraid of me. He told one of my doctors that he was afraid he would wake up one night and find me standing over him with a knife. He was worried that I would hurt his younger brothers. My own father was a man I looked up to as the epitome of cool, but he was afraid of me.
When you’re seven years old and everyone knows you’re crazy, there’s no more lonely feeling than that. It’s cold and I start to hate everything about myself.
I kept myself away from most other kids to deal with the feelings of isolation that came with being thought sick by my peers. Reading gave me a temporary escape. I found a balance of peace by spending time alone outdoors. I love animals and most of all I spent a lot of time with them. The animals and I have become very good friends. They didn’t ask what was wrong with me, they were just happy to have me around.
There were certain voices in my head that were not hostile and I ended up having hours of conversations with them. To my young mind, that voice was a real person. The bad ones scared me and made me hate myself, but the others…they became my friends.
The only real friend I had outside of my own head was Michelle. I met her when I was eight years old.We bonded over our mutual love for Alvin Schwartz scary stories to tell in the dark. She was a tomboy who thought nothing of walking in streams or catching lizards. Despite all the stories she had about me at school, she wasn’t afraid of me. She recalls how she used to laugh at fart jokes and how she knew a lot about cartoons and the Ninja Turtles.
Our friendship lasted only one year. I remember getting a phone call from my dad when I was 9 years old. I remember the look in his eyes when he handed me the phone. Michelle’s aunt was on the phone. Michelle had been out with her sister the night before and it was raining. Her sister’s car hydroplaned around a corner and wrapped around a tree. I remember everything going very quiet in my head while she was talking. Other than a few pets dying, this was my first experience with death.
When you experience loneliness after making good friends, it hurts more sharply and deeply. In the past, when I was ostracized for being crazy, I had nothing to compare myself to. Loneliness was simply a state of being. It was tough but I got used to it. After Michelle passed away, the lack of true friends was deeply ingrained in my heart.
Fast forward to 2002. I said he was 19 years old and relayed this story to a reporter from his prison cell. We are investigating my mental state and the events in my life that led to my incarceration. He said he couldn’t find anything about Michelle’s death, and in fact, he couldn’t find any records about her. I called her grandparents and asked them to look through her old yearbook, but they still couldn’t find her.
My only childhood friend never existed and I can’t find her. There was no little girl with green eyes named Michelle Lavender who died in a car accident in 1992. Still…I remember her. I remember her clearly! This contradiction perplexed me. That led to a five-year period where I discovered that many of the things I remembered happening in the past hadn’t actually happened.
If we are a collection of our experiences, and our experiences are based on our memoirs and the emotional impact they had on us, none of those experiences What does it mean to me if that’s not what actually happened? Who am I if the totality of my experience exists only as a fragmented memory that never happened?
I don’t know. But what I do know is that it made me question every aspect of my life almost constantly. I met the woman who will become my wife in 2019. She is everything I wanted. We are on the phone for nearly two hours every morning and meet via video visit at least every other week. She knows everything about me. She knows Michelle. She knows the crippling fears I have about my identity, the questions I have about my reality.
She knows that I actually worry about sitting on the phone for 2+ hours every day, talking to deadlines.
She told me that over the past 20 years, I would wake up strapped to a hospital bed, hallucinating all the good things that had happened to me, my growth, and my social journey. I know you know the fear of being. real human beings. That my nearly five-year relationship with my beloved wife was nothing more than a fever dream, a desperate attempt to cope with this cracked landscape of broken mirrors in my heart. I’m worried that they might find out.
If she is a dream, if the small successes in my life are just madness, then let me sleep. It’s better to be crazy than nothing.
Mad in America hosts blogs from a diverse group of writers. These posts are generally designed to serve as a public forum for discussion of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the author’s own.
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