My Friend Is a Schizophrenic

Schizophrenia 227x300 My Friend Is a Schizophrenic

“When the only way you can be is to not be”

The other night I went to a bar (and forgot to pay might I add… naughty naughty me… it was a mistake… really!) and it was over blueberry cheesecake (absolutely heavenly!) that I made the above statement. I was talking about Mental illness and the state of being when people are put on heavy medications. Without medications the behaviour of a mentally ill person can be erratic, psychotic and perhaps even harmful to themselves and others but then on medication thoughts and feelings are suffocated… they are only allowed to be shells of their former selves.

I was thinking about my friend Dwight who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. I met him when I was 15 in Trocadero (An amusement and games centre in London) and we used to meet up a lot in groups of my friends and his friends and go swimming, hang out, ice skating etc… I saw him less as the years went on but we would always speak at least a few times a year. We did lose contact for about a year or two but then about 3 years ago he started calling much more regularly than he had been but he would always sound weird.  His voice was really dragged out and slow. The first time I heard him speak like that I asked him, “What’s wrong with your voice?” and he replied back, “What do you mean?” as if I were imagining or making things up.

I did think he was acting weird but I didn’t dwell on it. Then he began calling and wanting to meet up outside the leisure center that we always used to meet up at back in the day. So the first time he did this I was prepared to meet and I said to him to call me before he left home and he never did, so I never went and he didn’t call until the next week to explain why. He said that something came up. He continued to call on an almost weekly basis… with the same “Lets meet up outside the leisure center on Sunday at 5 pm” routine that he had suggested the first time.

After the first time I was wary so I would never go and he would never call to say he was leaving… It was like a game. He would call and make these plans for the following Sunday and not call to confirm and I would never go. I had also noticed that once when he had called I could hear a guitar playing and another time an irate Jamaican in the background and when I would ask him where he was he would evade the question.

So after a couple of months I knew something definitely had to be wrong with him and I was convinced it was some sort of mental illness so I said to him, “Why do you always arrange to meet me every Sunday and you never come?” and he said to me, “They got me on lockdown.” I knew he had to be in a hospital and not jail… so I asked him outright, “Are you in a mental hospital?” to which he replied… “I’ll tell you everything when I see you.”

It was strange because something like two weeks after this conversation he arranged the same meeting outside the leisure centre and actually called to say he was leaving to come and meet me. I knew this time it was different because I could hear him walking and he was saying that he would be there in an hour. So I went to the leisure centre to go and meet him at the same spot we always used to meet when I saw him I was shocked. He looked like a shell of his former self. He had put on a huge amount of weight and his eyes were glazed over. His lips were dry too… which may sound trivial but he would always carry around lip balm because he hated dry lips… but I guess when you are losing your sanity who could give a fukk about dry lips? We went to a nearby restaurant to go and eat and he told me the story of what had happened.

He said that he was sleeping one night and was awoken by “radio waves.” How he figured they were radio waves I don’t know. He said that he just ignored it and didn’t tell anyone, but was disturbed by it. He said that looking back he could see that his parents were anxious about his behaviour, but because a relative had recently died it was just assumed that he was grieving. He also said that professionals weren’t contacted about his behaviour until he ran out into the street naked in the middle of the night because he was hot. His parents had tried to keep the whole charade under wraps after his first time running into the street but then the second time he was spotted by neighbours and couldn’t be restrained as easily so the police were called and medicals brought in.

It was then decided that it would best for him by his parents and the doctors to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act and so he was put into a Hospital and basically drugged to stop these episodes. The reason he was able to come and meet me was because he had been released under the condition that someone would come and visit him weekly to inject him with what I assume are anti psychotic drugs.

So there we were in the restaurant and he was smiling almost manically, eyes glistening, glazed and awake as though he had dropped 5 ecstasy pills. When I asked him what he was smiling about he said to me, “I’m just happy.” This made me feel sad because the only way he was able feel “happy” was by not being. The Dwight that I had known was gone. It was like he was a robot. They drugs had reduced him to a child like state where he couldn’t even make simple decisions like what food to order. He asked me instead what he should order and when I aked him what he would like he said he didn’t know. And it wasn’t a, “Hmmmm… I don’t know… I’m thinking.” It was a final YOU make the choice “I don’t know.” In order to drown out these psychotic episodes every emotion, passion, dream, fear and desire was wiped out…

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