Since the early 1800s, schizophrenia, which means “split mind” was recognized as a psychological disorder, however it was believed to be the unstoppable premature deterioration of the brain and very few individuals were diagnosed with it due to the small range of symptoms that were recognized as specifically symptoms of this disorder. It was thought that the individual no longer had full mental function due to the split within his or her mind between: thought, language, emotion and memory. The understanding of schizophrenia has changed over the years and although it is still believed to be a lifelong psychological disorder or illness there is a better understanding of how to treat it. Paranoid schizophrenia, the most common type of schizophrenia, is what I have been diagnosed with. Dr. Worth has described it as “a chronic mental illness in which the patient loses touch with reality”. I strongly disagree. If paranoid schizophrenia is indeed what I have, then I have not lost touch with reality, I am more aware of reality than the average person.
There is an array of symptoms listed for paranoid schizophrenia, however the common two are: auditory hallucinations and delusions. The auditory hallucinations are sounds or voices heard by the patient when they are not really present, or better yet, are not heard by anyone else in the room. The delusions are strongly held beliefs by the patient even when the evidence shows otherwise. Delusions may be of the paranoid variety when the patient believes that someone intends on causing him or her harm or in rare cases, delusions of grandeur, when the patient believes that he or she possesses superior traits or qualities that other individuals do not possess. Dr. Worth believes that these irrational symptoms all of which I exhibited cause me to behave abnormally and so, by the age of thirteen I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and by age sixteen, depression was added to the mix.
My Mother didn’t believe that the whispers I heard in the night since I was five years old were real, she thought it was all something my mind had conjured on its own and she was afraid that I would hurt myself or worse, that I would hurt someone else, which is why she became overwhelmed and took me to a psychiatrist. I was too young to understand what was happening to me and why no one believed me. No one was able, or perhaps willing, to explain my family’s history to me, or explain what I was experiencing. It is possible that they had never been able to experience it or didn’t want to admit that they had and that our family blood line was unique and powerful. I didn’t know what to believe. I was thirteen and definitely scared, but I knew that I wasn’t sick, so I fought them; my parents, the physicians, the psychiatrists. I fought them and fought them until I didn’t have any strength left with which to fight; I ultimately gave in and gave up. I accepted the treatments with indifference that they gave me just as they gave all patients with paranoid schizophrenia, which included: antipsychotic medications, which I still take, psychotherapy, which I still undergo with Dr. Worth, hospitalization, and electroconvulsive therapy, or what you may know fondly as electroshock therapy, but none of it stopped the voices I heard in the darkness, the voices I heard within the sound of the music. These are the voices that I still hear and now understand are the voices of my ancestors, the voice of Syn and the composers of the music; they all speak to me and I, I listen.
My parents go to sleep around eleven o’clock during the week, but on weekends their schedule changes depending on their social obligations. Sometimes they have Aunt Rachel come to the house and “keep me company”, especially if they think I’ve had a particularly difficult week and shouldn’t be left alone “for my own safety”, because well, we all know what a danger I am to myself, and other times they are comfortable leaving me alone as a reward for “not acting out my irrational impulses”. I particularly enjoy the times when I am left alone in the house, which sadly seems to be a much rarer occasion than they used to be. Perhaps it is due to the strange circumstances with Josh’s disappearance from the hospital a few weeks ago that has my parents unnerved or maybe they are just preoccupied with their own insecurities, regardless of the reason I am overjoyed when the occasion arises that they feel confident about leaving me unsupervised because I don’t have to be overly concerned and listen for footsteps in the hall outside my bedroom door when I am listening to the music that I have saved on my MP3 player.
This was one of those rare occasions and I was elated. From my bedroom window, I watched as my Father drove the car down the driveway and pull into the street heading in the direction of his colleague’s home in Newport for a dinner party. I knew they wouldn’t be home any earlier than midnight. I eagerly retrieved my MP3 player from the drawer in the side table next to my bed and plugged it gingerly into the USB port of my desktop computer. I smiled as I searched the file for the three titles that bore an asterisk next to them and considered which one to choose. I moved the curser with a soft sigh of anticipation and clicked on Bolero. I turned the volume of my surround sound speakers up almost as loud as they could go and sat down on my bed to listen. As the first few notes of the piece began to caress my ears I inhaled deeply excited to experience the beauty of this piece for the first time in weeks. The soft notes of the snare drum began setting the beat of the entire piece and then as the flute joined an unusual visual anomaly appeared around the speakers on my desk. It pulsated with the beat of the drum and grew as the music played. I stood from the bed and slowly approached the consolidated waves, reaching out my hand I gently manipulated the energetic mass as it continued to expand. I spun around the room with my hands raised and penetrating the middle of the invisible energetic bubble causing it to swirl in the direction of my spin. I became more vigorous with my movements as the music aggressively marched forward. We danced sharing the experience of the music as we had done months prior.