WHEN I KNEW
January 5, 2019
I’ve sat down countless times and tried to figure out when I first realized I wasn’t like everyone else. The first signs something wasn’t mentally “right” with me. Every time I think of it I tend to gravitate towards my diagnosis date and what the Dr told me was going on with me and how I felt lost afterward. But I’ve recently been trying to piece together several events from my life that I really think was major signs something was wrong and should have been handled earlier in my life.
The earliest memory I have of something not being quite right was when I was in the second or third grade. I was at home with my sister and I was asleep on the couch. I remember waking up frantic and yelling. I don’t remember what I was saying at the time, but I was told I woke up frantic and was yelling at my sister about something and it was Oprah’s fault on the TV. I had several of these incidents as a child where I would wake up and start yelling things that didn’t make sense.
Another thing I remember as a child was this recurring nightmare where I was trapped in boulders and sometimes pushing the boulders. It was a weirdly tangible feeling and I always woke up feeling the boulders still on my hands and all around me. It also seemed to manifest more when I was sick as a child. I always felt like I was going to get lost in those dreams and never wake up.
Fast forward to seventh grade and I really started to present signs of some mental disorder. I was spending my summer in Texas, as was the usual summertime vacation with my dads side of the family, and my grandmother took me to see The Truman Show. Sounds innocent enough… Until I started believing there were cameras all over the place recording me and everyone was in on it. It goes beyond just a childhood game of imagining if that could really happen and was a serious case of delusion on my part since I truly believed it was the case.
I spent a good solid two years living with that thought in my head and catered my behaviors, as a teenage boy, accordingly because I thought everyone was watching me. It went as far as me thinking songs were about me if they in any way related to anything I was doing or had ever done. It was pretty bad. I didn’t want to tell anyone, not because I was embarrassed, because at the time I truly believed these things, but because I didn’t want to let anyone know I knew about the cameras because I thought I would get in trouble.
Obviously, this was a HUGE sign of a mental disorder but I just never told anyone. There were many reasons why I never approached anyone about these things in a serious way. One big reason was my brother got a lot of the focus in the family for some things and I felt it was unfair to bring my stuff up, or that it would just go overlooked.
I went quite a while after that before I had other symptoms. More of my symptoms manifested themselves during my cocaine use days and leading up to my diagnosis as bipolar. I had two moments of psychosis around that time, and then again later in the years. I just really wish I would have said something sooner in my life, or that people would have noticed and said or done something. If you feel like you are having symptoms, please don’t feel afraid or stigmatized by reaching out and telling someone. It can save your life and can possibly save you years of trouble.
I’m trying to piece these things together with therapists and psychiatrists now. Medicine and therapy have helped me live a better life. I just wish something could have been done sooner. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had been put on medication earlier. It’s a dangerous game, I know, but it’s also human nature to wonder what could have been.