I leapt out of bed, relief and joy flooding my soul. I had done it! At last, after all these years and doubts and failed attempts, I had really prayed the prayer of salvation. I was saved!
I went down to breakfast, still feeling my delusional sense of peace and happiness. Little did I realize the fragile nature of the deception to which I would cling for the next few months.
After my false conversion, I began acting slightly healthier. Of course, things weren’t completely better. When it came time for my baptism a few weeks later, I second-guessed myself in mounting fear. When I attended evangelism training, I felt terrified. How did I know this latest salvation was real, anyway? My delicate balance of mind was threatened at every turn.
At the last minute, I decided to return to school, much to the happiness of my parents. They had told me they thought I should go back. I packed up and headed out in a matter of days, arriving at campus in a short-lived and ill-fated burst of ecstasy.
I need not go into detail to describe a semester which was tragically like the one I shared about in a previous post. Suffice it to say that, if anything, it was worse.
All my illusions of salvation faded rapidly, and I soon found myself skipping classes and assignments, just as before. Even worse, in addition to all my previous obsessions, I began to have terrifying thoughts that informed me that I wanted to murder people. I was horrified, but, believing these to be my own genuine desires, I lived in increasing agony and guilt. ***
At last, I turned myself in to the school authorities, confessing to my poor RA that I thought I was going to kill somebody. (Interesting tactic for someone intent on murder.) She told the RD, and they took me to the local mental health clinic, where I was immediately admitted against my will.
My first experience as a patient in our nation’s mental healthcare system had begun. I am sorry to say that the experience was shockingly horrible.
First, I was subjected to the dreaded medications. I have no quarrel with the fact that I needed medications, but the doctors at this facility were more concerned with rapid intervention than with careful diagnosis and long term effectiveness. Day after day, they asked me whether I still intended to murder someone. Having been informed by the staff that I was required to share all thoughts of harming others, and feeling an unhealthy compulsion to divulge my steadily growing list of obsessions, I duly confessed that my thoughts were, in fact, growing worse.
Day after day, the doctors increased my dosage until I began having violent spasms. I struggled to breathe or talk as my throat and face convulsed. They tried desperately to give me another medication to take care of the side effects, but, still frightened of medications in general, I refused to take the pill and waited out the terrible symptoms without aid.
This facility had two kinds of rooms, two long hallways filled with bare but reasonably modern living arrangements and two rooms, one on either side close to the front desk, which were entirely different. These rooms were made of textured concrete or cement (I don’t know my building materials well enough to say which), and were ugly and ancient in appearance. These living quarters were specially reserved for their sickest patients. The facility probably assigned these patients to these rooms to keep them under close observation. I have always wondered if this also had anything to do with the fact that these patients were too sick to complain. Whatever the facility’s reasoning, these rooms were dreadful places in which to live and certainly not fit for anyone, especially those suffering from severe mental illness.
Have any of you visited any of our nation’s mental health care facilities recently? What did you think of the living conditions and the treatment of the patients in those facilities? What do you think is a more appropriate approach to treatment for these facilities, rapid intervention or long-term care? Why do you take this position? I’m excited to be able to exchange ideas with all of you. Join in the conversation.
*** (excerpt from my earlier post, Fears and Fading Realities)A brief explanation of OCD may be helpful at this point. Commonly, those suffering from OCD will obsess about the things they fear most. Thus, a gentle, loving soul will be plagued with visions of themselves plunging a knife into their spouse or children. These thoughts do not reflect an actual desire on their part to commit this action. On the contrary, these thoughts display their worst fears and aversions—the things they would be least likely to do.