What was the psych ward like?
There are a lot of misconceptions about psych wards that result from Hollywood movies. They portray psych wards as either full of quirky, misunderstood people who yearn for freedom or insane people that mumble to themselves, play chess all day, and torture the staff. Neither of these visions is accurate. Psych wards are full of average, everyday people. Since Springfield’s “Marion Center” is not big enough to separate people according to their symptoms, (though I hear this is done in larger cities) most of the people I encountered were not delusional like me. For the most part, depression was the most common symptom. There were also people that were there because their life had basically fallen apart and they didn’t know what else to do, and there was one guy who I think opted to get treatment for addiction there after being arrested. There was a man who seemed delusional, though I didn’t get to talk to him, who had apparently been there several times and committed himself so he could get medicine. There are two sections to the Marion Center. When I first got there I was put in section A, but after a few days I was moved to section B. Section B is a little nicer. The beds are more comfortable, there’s a television, the shower temperature is adjustable, it’s a little more spacious, etc. The daily routine involves being woken up by a nurse, eating breakfast, attending various meetings throughout the day, watching television during free time, eating snacks and meals, and taking medicine at night. The staff were all really, really nice. One day there were college nursing students who were doing clinicals and I got to meet a really nice guy who wanted to play chess with me, but he couldn’t find a chess board. I’m extremely fond of the Marion Center (though I can’t say I enjoyed my time there, but I appreciate it in hindsight) and everyone who graciously works there.
What was your most delusional delusion?
My worst delusion is both hilarious and embarrassing. One day, I had a delusional memory of coordinating the 9/11 attacks as a small child. So…Yeah…
When did you first accept your delusions as fictional and not real?
It took me quite some time to do this. All of my delusions seemed very, very real because they had false memories of conversations and events to back them up. It wasn’t until I was out of the hospital for several weeks and on a medicine that actually worked that I began to accept my delusions as delusions.
Did you admit yourself to the hospital or did someone else?
I never would have gone to the hospital if it weren’t for the ultimatum of my parents. I was really uncomfortable and delusional one night when I was at their house and I kept asking to go back to my apartment. They didn’t think it was safe for me to do so, (which I thought was crazy at the time) so they said, “You can either stay here with us or we can take you to the hospital.” I chose to go to the hospital. It’s really funny, now, remembering that I had no idea why they would want me to go to the hospital. I didn’t think that I would be going to a psych ward or anything like that, because I thought I was totally rational and perfectly healthy. When I got to the hospital I thought they were trying to switch out my blood and put the “mark of the beast” in me. I really wanted to leave and kept walking around near the door, though there was a police officer to stop me from leaving. I’m really thankful my parents forced me to get help. It’s one really great thing you can do for someone, if they’re suffering from mental illness, encourage them to seek professional help, because they are unlikely to seek it themselves.
Do you think part of what you went through could be considered “spiritual warfare?”
In my opinion, what I experienced was an imbalance of chemicals in my brain, nothing more, nothing less. Certainly at the time I thought that everything I was going through was spiritual warfare, because I thought a bunch of people were demon possessed and so forth, but now I think that was delusional. It can be tempting to attribute mental illnesses to “spiritual warfare,” because the symptoms are more elusive, and certainly a lot of people do, especially with depression and psychosis, but I think we now know that these things are mostly physically based, determined by genetics and stuff. Attributing mental illness to “spiritual warfare” may be beneficial to some people, if it helps them get well, but I think it can be mostly detrimental as people are less likely to accept medicine which is much more effective. Likewise, I wouldn’t say the God healed me. I would certainly say, and have said, that my belief in God helped me through this time, but what healed me, in my opinion, were good medicine and the hard work of my psychiatrist. This may sound offensive to some deeply religious people who want to attribute every last detail in life to divine intervention, but I think it’s more worthwhile to give credit where credit is due, and that, in my opinion, is in the hands of my doctors and the community around me that supported me.
If you could go back in time and not experience psychosis, would you do it?
Short answer, no. I learned a lot through this experience and felt a lot of emotions that I wouldn’t have felt otherwise. Particularly, it has made me much more empathetic with people who suffer from mental illnesses, and I plan to do what I can to advocate for their acceptance and grow awareness for their illnesses, which is mostly what these blog posts are about.