Trigger warning: This post contains an extensive discussion of Schizophrenia,
How did I get here?
I find myself asking that often.
Predisposed, I knew that someday I could fall to Schizophrenia. I hoped that I wouldn’t, that the author penning my story would chose to spare me.
But writers are ruthless.
I had been feeling off, in a haze. Things sounded far away, balance was a long forgotten concept. I had no idea what was wrong, I feared my temperamental heart was giving out. But heart issues are common in my world. Choosing to not needlessly alarm people, I kept my sudden spell of unease to myself. Really not wanting to return home that night after work, I dragged myself through the door.
Yelling, why were they always yelling?
Closing my door to my room in a poor attempt to block out the continual storm of raised voices from my family, I sat down at my desk. Falling asleep without meaning to, I woke with a start the next day. It was 5pm. Running late for work, I raced to get ready. The fact that I had slept for nineteen hours hadn’t occurred to me.
The light dusting of snow cracked under my shoes as I started my journey of several blocks to the retail store I spend my night shifts at. That crunching of my steps was the only sound in my world until it suddenly disappeared. Looking down to my shoes with every step, concern dripped into my blood. Why did my steps lose their sound? Looking up, I stopped.
Approaching me was a young man, a young woman by his side. I smiled at them, hurrying up to greet them happily. It felt like it had been so long since I had seen them. Extending her hand, the girl placed it on my shoulder. My blood went stale as I stared at her, why was she so cold? She used to be so warm.
I didn’t understand why my world glassed over.
That was, until I remembered.
He had killed himself.
She had been murdered.
I had watched his body hit the ground, I had seen what was left of her corpse at the morgue.
They asked what was wrong as I backed away from them. They said they wanted to go hang out like we used to, to catch up since it had been such a long time, to be happy like we were in high school. It was drawing, the call of leaving my mind behind me on the sidewalk and joining them. But I had the clarity to force myself to walk past them and continue on my way.
A new clinic, a branch of our hospital, had opened its doors a week prior, across the street from my place of work. So as I walked toward it, eyes locked on it, I took out my phone and called into work with all the voice I could muster. I knew what had happened, that was my first break. And if what I knew what true, it was about to get so much worse.
After I all but ran into the clinic, it did.
I don’t think I’m the same person that I was before that day. For better or worse, I was set on fire that day and whatever is left now is what I’ve struggled to put back together.
My family expected this of me, they expected me to fall apart beyond repair. And when one of them came to get me from the hospital upon my release, they stated they were disappointed.
“You couldn’t have just kept it to yourself and not gone to the hospital? You’re so dramatic.”
The word echoed relentlessly in my mind in voices that weren’t mine, they increased in volume until my head felt like it was going to explode. I could no longer hear her criticisms, the other voices ruled my world. Like bold text falling from the sky, landing over my other thoughts, their words were the only things I could process. The car stopped and I got out, racing to the bathroom because I felt sick.
Frozen in place, I stared at the mirror after closing the door behind me.
Standing there where my reflection should have been was me, but not me now. He was younger, darker dressed, colder toned. His hair hanging in his face, his stance that of a cocky teenager, he was the me I personally set ablaze many years ago. The me I was not proud to have once been.
“You’ve lost your mind dude,” extending his arms with a laugh, his eyes sat dead on me, “welcome to hell.”
The room around me went up in flames, the roar of the heat drowning the voices out for a moment. Hand to my mouth to keep myself quiet, I stood in stiff terror. Heat licked at me with the flames, eyes locked on the boy in the mirror, my word was taken by tears. On my knees, I don’t know how long I sat there, surrounded by fire that stung. As if it truly was there, it hurt when it lunged at me, it tainted the air with smoke and threatened to choke me.
“This is just the beginning, Beethoven.”
I will never forget the way he said my name.
As if I tripped over my own feet into an alternate reality all my own, every aspect of my world turned to ash in that fire.
Writers are ruthless, indeed.
But if they are any good, they are ruthless with purpose.
A lesson is scattered in this maze of broken mirrors, and like a good character would do, it’s up to me to find it. I just hope that I won’t get cut while digging about shards of glass in search for it.