Not just bipolar, not just schizophrenic: schizoaffective. Lori, one of the authors, starts hearing voices and hallucinating in her preteens. She knows something might be wrong, but isn’t sure what. At one time she even believes that she must be possessed.
She’s able to hide her “voices” and extreme moods fairly well until her late college years. At this time, the symptoms become increasingly worse. She becomes depressed and tortured by the voices. Her 3.9 GPA, highly admired and seemingly sociable, happy life comes to a screeching halt with a suicide attempt. She couldn’t take it anymore.
From here on she is transferred in and out of hospitals and clinics. She is put on various medications at different times. She does have a period or two where she seems to get better. (But she began to self-medicate with coke.) Ironically, she even starts working at hospitals, including the one she stayed at. Nonetheless her disease becomes increasingly worse. However, she is brought to an alternative program and given experimental medication. Sorry to spoil the ending, but with therapy, she becomes better. She, along with her family, friends, and doctors, all compile this book. True story.
- “When I heard the Voices yelling such terrible things, I grew afraid to make eye contact with the people I was with. I was afraid they had heard the Voices and now knew the terrible secrets about me that they were revealing. […] I became extremely self-conscious in front of everyone for fear they too would nail me to a taunting cross.” (pg. 22 – Lori)
“Poor people are crazy, they say, and rich people are eccentric. My mother was rich, and so she was allowed to be eccentric. But now, looking at Lori, I realized that my mother hadn’t been eccentric. She had been sick. And now I saw that sickness repeated in her granddaughter. For if Lori was schizophrenic, then so was my mother.” (pg. 82 – Lori’s mom)
“It seemed so strange that my fellow patients could enjoy the Voices they heard in their own heads. On my unit one young man had Voices who told him he was the Messiah. Another young woman always sat by herself, laughing happily. Once I asked her what she was laughing about. ‘Hubert is telling me jokes,’ she said. […] I was jealous. There was nothing about my Voices that was friendly. I had tried to make them my allies against the hateful staff. But in reality the Voices terrified me. Sometimes I told the staff they were gone, but I was lying. […] The Voices yelled so loud they woke me up, leaving me shaking and frightened.” (pg. 149 – Lori)
“Finally out of mental exhaustion I collapsed. But I relaxed. The more times I marched myself into the Quiet Room the easier it was. The Quiet Room became a place to chill out and deescalate, rather than to be punished. Finally, the Quiet Room really became quiet.” (pg. 224 – Lori)
“My head kept clearing. Thinking was less of an effort. The scrambled-eggs unscrambled, the mixed-up spaghetti strands of thoughts unraveled. […] When the Voices reared up and roared, it was as if they hit a glass shield, crashed and fell away. […] Their noises were muffled and remote. […] Clozapine was standing between them and my brain. Denied the nourishment of my thoughts, they were perishing. […] But the biggest change was in the return of something I hadn’t realized I was missing: I began to feel connected to other people.” (pg. 252 – Lori)