Sunday March 13, 2011
I don’t want to hurt anyone. Today when I killed a fly I felt remorse. Also I don’t believe in the death penalty. I believe it is morally wrong to put to death someone who commits even the most heinous of crimes. But I think I may hurt someone in the future.
I have a mental illness. It’s called schizoaffective disorder. At least that’s what the doctors tell me. But I believe I’m being controlled by a shadow government. This shadow government controls people by placing subliminal messages in T.V. and radio broadcasts. While reading this you probably think I roam the streets with foil on my head collecting aluminum cans and holding up signs that say the world is going to end. This is not true. If you met me you would not know there is anything wrong with me. I can tell crazy thoughts from normal thoughts and keep the crazy ones to myself.
If you walked into the FedEx Office where I work you would find a courteous, knowledgeable, and helpful assistant manager. If you became my friend you would learn I’m intelligent in a I-can-do-Calculus kind of way but that I’m a little dim witted in a can’t-keep-a-conversation-going kind of way. If you became a closer friend you would learn girls are generally not attracted to me, I struggle with my family relationships, and my District Manager is keeping a close eye on me because I made a bad impression when the Chief Operating Officer visited.
By societies standards I’m a loser, but sometimes those standards are not what matter. If you keep reading I think you’ll find a brave, articulate, compassionate individual who is doing the best he can with the cards he’s been dealt. Now about those cards. . .
For several years now the voices and thoughts have been telling me I’m being worn down and eventually I’ll crack. This thought, that I will do something evil, is the major stressor that is wearing me down.
Several months ago I asked Crystal, a girl from work, out. She turned me down. When that happened I had a brief destructive thought: destroy something. For about a second this thought sat easily in my mind. Then fear and regret set in. Sometimes I get benign urges to do something: go to the grocery store, say this, do that. The urges build until I do it. Recently while at a party a friend was showing his gun to another friend. I caught a glimpse. Excitement akin to sexual desire arose within me. Afraid, I kept my distance. My fear is that in the future, worn down by stress, I will get a destructive urge I give into.
In high school I read a story called Metamorphosis. This story reflected on a boy being slowly changed into an insect. At what point did he lose his humanity? Because I don’t want to hurt anybody and I see these changes occurring I want to do something before I become evil. The obvious choice is to tell my psychiatrist about these thoughts. Dr. Martin is aware that the voices tell me one day I will hurt someone. Her advice was not to dwell on it. This reminds me of a psychological trick where you tell someone not to think of a pink elephant. In essence it can’t be done.
I haven’t told Dr. Martin about the brief destructive thought and the excitement when seeing a gun. Dr. Martin likes me and I want her to continue liking me. Also there are complicated psychotic thoughts that are discouraging me from telling her. I have had thoughts that the people controlling me are not all on the same team. One team is trying to threaten the other team by having me say I’m dangerous. I want to pretend to be harmless. Despite these thoughts I intend to tell Dr. Martin about my problems in two days.
I’m writing because if I win my story will be a story of triumph, courage, and struggle. If I lose I would like to leave behind proof that I fought back. In the days and months ahead I intend to chronicle my life. This will be challenging. Sometimes I think I should not let one team know what the other team is saying. It will take courage to write my story.
Today it is obvious to me that my fear of hurting others was driven by paranoia. The fact that I thought I was being controlled led me to believe that I could be made to do things not of my will. In reality people suffering from schizoaffective have very nearly the same violence percentage as the aggregate population. Meaning mental illness is a poor indicator for violent tendencies. Since I am, and have always been, quite passive, the possibility of me hurting anyone was extremely remote.
There were several instances during my illness where others were quite hostile and aggressive towards me. I responded by carefully distancing myself from the aggressor. Recently I flat out asked my therapist if he thought it was possible for me to hurt another person. He responded by asking me questions about my past conflicts and concluded the possibility is extremely unlikely.
I think the stigma associated with mental illness had a profound effect on my mental state. Once I categorized myself as mentally ill I lumped myself in with the very rare cases of people committing acts of broad violence. I essentially believed what a large percentage of society believes that psychosis is dangerous to others. When in reality it is seldom dangerous to others and more likely dangerous for the person suffering. The suicide rate is much higher in patients with schizoaffective disorder than those in the aggregate population.
I found this video today and I think it does a good job of humanizing the illness.