by Greg in California
I have suffered from schizophrenia for over 30 years. My first episode was triggered when my mother died a terrifying death of bowel cancer when I was 20. After descending into a mad world of demonic voices where I was hospitalized and medicated, I thought there was no hope left. I suffered for years, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and doing little else. Then, I thought I was a Christian and I started hearing aliens tell me the world would end soon and The Rapture was at hand. It got to the point where the slightest sound would make me think it was beginning.
My family and mental health residents said I sat by the windows waiting for Christ to come. Then, I was moved from a single room in my first psychiatric boarding home into a shared room with a wise but depressed man who was spiritual. The staff was trying to get me to socialize and it worked. My roommate soon became my best friend and encouraged me to go back to the classics and read books on mysticism. I reread Milton, Blake, Byron, Yeats and The Gnostic Gospels as well as Joseph Campbell. We talked for months about literature until I got to the point where I finished the final two courses of my BA in English Literature by correspondence. Unfortunately, my friend passed away from cancer which made me suicidal. I went for grief counseling at the hospital and then I was given medication that brought me out of my shell. Since I've been on it I've had part time jobs and I took Creative Writing courses. I worked with very supportive people and I had two novels accepted for publication; I also had published chapbooks, short stories, poems, plays and reviews. I have never lived on my own and I have been a resident of four psychiatric boarding homes (one for 9 years), and my dream is to one day to get my own place by making a living with my writing.
My first novel THE TEMPTRESS ARIEL was loosely based on my boarding home/hospital experiences and it has received good to rave reviews so far. One critic called it startlingly realistic. My second novel, SELENE'S GUIDING LIGHT was released last month by Publish America and it deals with severe schizophrenia.
I no longer have religious hallucinations or delusions, but I know I will always need my medication. I have climbed out of a depressing, hellish life that was ironically aggravated by fundamentalism. I am much happier and I feel lucky to be given a new, positive outlook.