Earlier this morning while I was chanting, I heard a voice trying to explain that the reason why they had to follow me from a distance, and could not get any closer to me, was because a restraining order had been filed against them, prohibiting them from getting any closer to me. I remember in 2002, when I was living with my parents, and had been released from my second hospital stay. I was working part-time on the weekends at a kennel. I used to think that people were following me to the kennel where I worked, and then sitting around while I walked the dogs, talking about me, until I got off and left. I also thought for awhile that there was a restraining order against them, and that they were just violating it by following me around everywhere. I never saw them, of course. It was all in my head. I do not believe that there is a restraining order now, any more than I did then.
When I was admitted to the hospital for the third time, I didn’t even really feel like I belonged there. I thought all the other patients were there for legitimate reasons except for me. I had really begun to believe in the reality that my voices were creating, and as long as I thought of them as real people out there somewhere, it made me think I didn’t have a mental illness. I was just telepathic, and able to communicate with these people in my head, even though I didn’t know who they were, and had never seen them. At least that’s what I thought sometimes.
The hospital was a nice, clean, safe environment, despite what was going on in my head. The hospital psychiatrist increased the Seroquel quite a bit, from 100mg eventually up to 800mg, the maximum dosage allowed. I also started taking Seroquel XR, which doesn’t make me sleepy like the regular Seroquel, although I didn’t start the XR until I was out of the hospital. I went to a few group sessions during my hospital stay, and my in-laws were kind enough to come and visit me during the week. My husband came to visit every night. I was so glad to see him. I was still paranoid and worried, even in the hospital. I could still hear the voices.
The first night I was up most of the night, lying awake, listening to them. Mostly the voices try to get me to do what they want me to do. Usually these are things that I don’t want to do. For example, they don’t want me to chant (I am Buddhist, so I chant every day, twice a day), or earn any income. I lay awake that night, listening to them try to reason with me. Fortunately, I was not convinced. At the hospital, we had morning and evening check-in sessions, and I met a few nice women during the week that I was there. At first I was doing everything I could to try to get out of the hospital as soon as I could, because that’s what the voices were telling me to do. I also assumed that it would only be a 3 day stay, because that’s what I was admitted under. I ended up staying a week, and at the last meeting with my psychiatrist, my husband John, John’s brother and his wife, we decided that I would go to an Adult Residential Treatment Center for possibly an additional one to two weeks, and then go for another two weeks to an intensive outpatient program in order to prevent relapse. We also decided that I would seek out a private therapist to see on an individual basis, once a week, as well as group therapy, all with the intention of preventing a relapse. So far, it seems to be working.
The third time I was hospitalized was about four months ago. I remember waking up in the morning after my husband had gone to work with a paranoid feeling of dread. The voices were telling me that if I didn’t leave my husband and fly immediately to my parents’ house and move back in with them, they would kill my husband. I was extremely upset, and started looking up plane tickets on our desktop computer. I found a few flights, and decided to call my mom and dad. I ended up talking to my dad for a little bit, and started crying while I was on the phone with him. He said of course it was fine if I wanted to fly out there (I didn’t tell him that I was supposed to move out there permanently, or they would kill my husband), but he thought I should talk to my husband about it first. I got off the phone with my dad, and immediately called my husband, John. I told him what was going on, and we came up with an alternative plan.
My sister-in-law was going to pick me up, and I was to pack a bag for myself and John so that we could stay the rest of the week with his parents. I quickly packed some clothes for us, and the things we needed from the bathroom, without explaining to my sister-in-law what was going on. We left shortly after that, and I ended up talking to her about my illness in the car on the way to my in-laws. We stayed there for the rest of the week, until I was admitted to the hospital. Twice, my mother-in-law caught me trying to buy a plane ticket to my parents’ house with my credit card. She ended up taking my credit cards away from me halfway through the week, so I wouldn’t buy a plane ticket anywhere.
At this time, I had spoken with my psychiatrist, and we had decided to try Seroquel (an antipsychotic used to control voices and hallucinations). I was on 100mg of Seroquel at the time. However, on Friday night (we had arrived at my in-laws on Wednesday), I told my husband that the voices were now telling me to go live in a homeless shelter, or he would be killed. I was so paranoid, that I started looking up homeless shelters online and taking notes in my journal. When John came into the room before we went to bed, he asked what I was doing on my phone. I told him I was checking my emails. He ended up looking at the search history on my phone and finding the search I had done for homeless shelters. The next morning, my husband and I drove to the Emergency Room with his father and sister. It was about a half hour drive, so I talked to both my brothers on the way. I was admitted under a 5150 (an involuntary 3-day stay). I didn’t know for sure if I wanted to be admitted because the voices were telling me that if I went into the hospital, they would kill everyone they found on my Facebook profile. Mostly I was scared.
I woke up this morning and as I was walking back from putting more money on our laundry card, I heard a voice in my head saying, “We’re not going to give you anything to write about!” I could only assume they meant my blog. Since I just started posting to my blog, I have occasionally wondered what would happen if I didn’t hear anything anymore. Then I wouldn’t have anything to write about! I think that I would rather not hear any voices and not have anything to write about, than hear voices in my head and have a lot to write about! My husband has encouraged me to write down what I hear for my blog, so today I’ve started to do just that.
The second time I was hospitalized, I was living in Northern California with my parents. I had left the house where I was renting a room in 2002, and drove to my parents’ house because I had become paranoid, thought my life was in danger, and had also started hearing people talking to me who were nowhere around (disembodied voices). This is when I believe the schizoaffective disorder started, because that was the time when I started hearing voices.
I felt I would be safe at my parents’ house, so I moved back in with them, and started seeing a psychiatrist. A few weeks went by, and I decided to ask my psychiatrist if I could be voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric ward at the nearby hospital. He made the arrangements, and I was admitted for a week. By this time, I was hearing voices regularly, I thought other people could read my mind, when I was watching TV, I thought that the characters in the show were talking about me, and I thought that every number I saw had some deep significance for my life at that time.
In the hospital, they immediately put me on Zyprexa (for the psychosis), and Paxil (for depression). I have been on antipsychotics and antidepressants ever since. The week in the hospital was quiet and helpful. I did craft activities, and met with a psychiatrist who, after numerous tests, managed to convince me that I did not have HIV (for some reason, I thought I did, and I told my parents this as well). When I was released, I continued seeing my psychiatrist and found a job at a pet store.
I continued to improve, and eventually switched from Zyprexa to Abilify because the Zyprexa made me gain about 20 pounds. I went back to school and received my Multiple-Subject teaching credential. I taught science camp for a few summers, and then taught third grade for one year before I was given a pink slip due to low enrollment. I continued improving, but was hospitalized again five years later.