A Crazy Guy Like Me
By Dave A.
How I Found Stability With Meds and the 12-Steps
I was born in a shack my father built in Northern California in 1976. My father was violent, mentally abusive, a heavy drinker and, as is now apparently a schizophrenic. I dreamt of fighting him off when I was young. I had resentment toward him yet a natural admiration that looked for the good in him. My mother is bi-polar and began drinking after my parents’ divorce. She did, however, quit drinking and introduced me to 12-step help when I was a teen for my heavy drinking and drug abuse.
My schizophrenia started aggravating my psyche when I was about 15, most likely triggered from heavy drug abuse. Along the way, I started dating a sweet girl. We fell in love, yet she left and I was devastated. I began isolating and was tormented by horrible visions. Scenes of violence would flash through my mind. When I returned to counseling, my therapist suggested medication, which I did not feel was a good natural remedy. In fact, I looked down upon medication as if it were a street drug.
Not too long after, I was institutionalized upon my family’s insistence and my concurrence. Obsessed with my previous girlfriend, I continued to grieve over her. Whenever I seemed to stop thinking of her, someone would mention or ask about her, which I interpreted as God indicating her eventual return to me. After several trials and disruptions in medications, the majority of my psychosis involved my imagining this former girlfriend was with me. I knew she was not, however, I felt happier thinking she was somehow with me in spirit. My writing and the music I listen to is much inspired by this woman.
I have not drunk or used illegal drugs since I was 21. I am 38 now and feel I have made a strong effort to do well in this life of illusion. I met Dan Frey (editor of NYC Voices) when I was about 23, and whom I consider a good friend, although we have not been in close contact for years. His efforts to support my musical shows are still appreciated.
Since I was 21, I have done my best work with psychiatric practitioners, having been in hospital psych wards once a year until about eight years ago. The threat of psychosis has alleviated over time and I value my freedom with the assistance of outpatient care. I would, however, do inpatient again if needed, and have considered it on occasions when I struggled the most.
I have schizoaffective type 2, which means I have struggled with depression throughout my life. I continue to enjoy good times as well. The twelve-step program has taught me to find esteem in service, in hopefulness and faith in healing for the sake of others, as well as myself.
I can no longer drink or ingest the sickening amounts of sugar designed by junk food companies. Due to my borderline sugar levels, I cut soda and other sugary drinks out of my diet. I still acquiesce sometimes with chocolate, but not like I used to. I don’t know for certain if I have fallen prey to Zyprexa's tendency to create sugar reactions, or to the junk food industry. Either way, I now regulate my diet more consciously.
I bring a 12-step meeting into the psych ward down in the valley once a month. If I get the apartment I’ve been eyeing, I’ll be just a block away from the psych unit and my plan is to begin weekly meetings. I have a sense of accomplishment having done the same with the hospital back east years ago.
Currently, I live in the mountains of Northern California and have an application pending for a low-income apartment down in the city’s valley. I’m making an effort to enjoy my current life while looking forward to having a mental health clubhouse about a half block away, as well as other fun activities, when I get down there. Maybe I'll meet a crazy lady who would understand a crazy guy like me.