The cop came back into the living room where I was sitting, nursing my two and a half month old daughter. “The boy didn’t make it,” he said. “Ma’am, I need you to come with me.” I handed my baby girl over to her dad as I got up from the couch to obey the officer.
His words drifted through my foggy mind as I told myself, this is all just a bad nightmare — I will wake up soon. With no socks or shoes on my feet, I silently followed the officer out of my house not knowing that would be the last time I would ever exit that front door. Yet, I felt an unusual calm and peace enter my heart as I sensed that this was “my path” or “my destiny.”
Little did I realize, when the truth finally came crashing through my delusional head, my journey would lead me into a challenging battle consisting of several years of torment and pain….
I once had a previous life where I attended college full-time, studying business management. I held on tight to a 3.9gpa as I managed to make mostly straight A’s in my classes. I was officially divorced from the abusive “sperm-donor” of my happy little boy who seemed content without a man in the house.
I smoked marijuana on a regular basis to help me with my terrible mood swings as well as to help me focus on my homework (which I started to find hard to concentrate on while sober).
Then a few years later, during my senior year of college, I became pregnant again with my daughter. I was excited and filled with joy at the opportunity to raise two children as a single parent. My daughter’s father was a good man that kids naturally seemed to flock to. My son adored him and in spite of our cultural differences, he accepted me and my son as family.
He helped me when he could; however, with his mother being in her late 70’s, he lived with her in an apartment across town to take care of her. As a result, we never officially “lived together” and this arrangement worked perfectly with my increasingly introverted self.
Then came the day that I started speaking in tongues —
And no, I wasn’t at some radical church at the time. I was home alone with my two children. I also had an “internal interpreter” who could understand just what I was saying. I went to the bathroom to use the facilities and then I started to shout out a name. I heard my son saying “What?”
This happened about three times until my son opened the bathroom door and said, “What?” again.
“In the name of Jesus you shall flee!” I shouted at him from the toilet in English.
My son replied: “Goodbye.” Then he shut the bathroom door.
Once I got done in the bathroom, I went to check on my son. He was in his room holding a little ball. He told me, “Mama, I tried to hit that boy with the ball, but he flew out the window.”
I knew then that a demon was trying to attack my son. Yet, I had a sense of knowing that this moth that was flying around in his room was actually that demon which had transformed and it would be dead soon.
The very next morning, as I was nursing my daughter on the couch, my son came out of his room with the dead moth in his hand. So I “knew” the demon was gone… This initial experience along with my son’s statement and behavior started my downward trip into a very delusional and psychotic journey.
The command hallucinations held me like a puppet on strings for about a week doing various things to rid the demon from my son as I thought the voice in my head was God telling me what to do. For example, I started fasting and eating nothing, just drinking water.
To make a long story short: after about a week of doing various “rituals” and crying and weeping in tongues, I told my son to go take a bath. It was late at night … for by now, time and structured sleeping schedules were non-existent.
As he was in the bathtub, I went to check on him and felt “God” telling me the only real way to get rid the demon forever was to “wash it out.” So believing that I was doing something to help save my child, I pushed him under the water and held him there for a while to let the demon come out.
A couple of days later, I was formally charged with second degree murder for the death of my son. My mind didn’t believe he was dead. I thought it was all a hoax and that my son had secretly gone off to study and become a medicine man with his sister’s tribe.
When they moved me to the county jail, things really went from bad to worse…
I could hardly speak in English; I wouldn’t keep any clothes on; I’d throw any medicine offered to me on the floor; I also did the same thing with most of the food; I would urinate on myself and put the urine in my hair because the voices said it would make it shiny (or something like that).
They moved me to the suicide cell after I had put my head under the sink to wash my hair and my cell mate thought I was trying to drown myself. Once I got to the suicide cell, they literally gave me a bucket for a toilet. After a couple of days passed and no one came to clean my bucket, I poured it all out on the cement floor and in a highly manic state, I danced butt-naked in the urine and feces chanting in different languages.
Yes, I was quite far gone….
After six weeks, I finally was given a ride to the state’s only forensic mental hospital. I recall seeing the red brick buildings for the first time with the sign saying they were built prior to 1920. I felt afraid and totally alone. I got dropped off and in my initial intake interview, I kept repeating: “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”
Once on the ward, I was handed pills again. So I did what I’d been doing and tossed them. Next thing I know, about four security guards and a RN came and tackled me down to the bed, pulled my pants down and I was given a good shot of Haldol which finally gave me some much needed sleep….
After being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, (plus taking a handful of medications), I regained some sanity and stability and went back to the county jail for almost a year. I was given the Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) verdict; consequently, I went back to the same forensic mental institution to “do my time.”
I got to start coming out into the community in a very gradual process. It began with small four hour passes into town with my family once a month. Then it turned into eight hour passes. Then day passes, then I was allowed to stay overnight with my family.
After that came time spent in residential care facilities for the mentally ill where I could spend two nights; however, I had to pay for the costs due to inadequate funding from the government. And due to my inadequate funding, I only got to go initially for about three times and then my savings went down to zero.
Finally, after twelve years in that institution, I received my “conditional release” to a residential care facility. It is basically the same as being out on parole: there are stipulations I have to follow. For example, I have to attend a mental health center most days of the week.
I changed my residence from one residential care facility to a different facility that is closer to my family about a year later. The mental health center here has a housing program and treats their clients with much more respect.
I have worked through the housing program and now reside in my own apartment. I manage all my medications; I budget and take care of all my money on my own; I cook and clean everything; I take good care of Fuzzbucket (my calico princess) and I currently am working on writing an autobiography about my journey.
I am still not 100% free from my status as an NGRI. My Judge has stated he will not give me any more privileges until my daughter turns eighteen. A couple examples of my conditions are:
1. Random drug screening.
2. Confinement to just the county I live in, unless escorted by family or the mental health center to some other county.
3. Compliance with the taking of all prescribed medications as shown by blood tests.
I consider myself to be blessed and am very thankful to be able to say I have recovered from a very dark psychotic state. I wish that my story will bring some hope to those who still battle with their symptoms as well as some reassurance that you are not alone.
I have chosen not to reveal my real name due to the type of people which simply refuse to accept or try to understand my illness and it’s resulting consequences.
I picked the last name Phoenix due to the symbolism the myth portrays. A young bird, called a Phoenix, is born and every 500 or so years (depending on your culture’s background) it bursts up into flames. Yet, out of the ashes, a new Phoenix is born. And believe you me, hell is all in your head. We all just have to unlearn everything we copied from the previous generation that was negative in order to find that peace within which we all hope for.
And as far as being “a lover, and not a fighter“: I’ve had to be a warrior who’s conquered many battles as I slowly transformed from the tightly woven cocoon wrapped around my brain into the butterfly that I feel God has helped create.
Sending much love and light to all,