Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tales from the schizophrenia ward - Part III: Haldol - Part 1/2

To begin this third part of the series, I will have to give you a quick introduction into what landed me in the schizophrenia ward in the first place.

You see, I am suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There are two major groups of symptoms to this illness: The first are by far the more famous, most entertainingly displayed in the Jack Nicholson movie As Good As It Gets. These are the strange habits and rituals that for many people define OCD. Washing your hands every certain amount of minutes, locking and unlocking your door five times, not walking on the cracks on sidewalks, always tying your shoes in the right order, having everything on your dinner table arranged at right angles, that kind of stuff. Those are the compulsions, the C in OCD. You have to do that stuff, or else you get intense panic attacks. Sounds ridiculous, and really is, but is also quite shitty if you're the one affected, not just because of the panic attacks, but also by how it dominates your life and how it estranges everyone who either is close to you or who you want to be close to you. Again, see As Good As It Gets.

Nevertheless, the compulsions, while by far the more famous of the two groups of symptoms, to me were also always by far the lesser of the two. This is simply by virtue of how disturbing and unsettling the other is. Enter the obsessions, the O in OCD. Now this is where things get really ugly, because what "obsessions" refers to may simply be described as "obsessive thoughts" in any "explain it to the layman"-text, which doesn't sound half bad, but try to think to the maximum, try to think thoughts that are not only really, really intrusive but also really, really fucked-up. Ever seen a beautiful girl and had an image pop into your head of ramming a spear up any hole of hers and kicking the other end so it comes out some other part? Ever seen a toddler and had an image pop into your head of repeated smashing his or her skull in with an iron bar? Ever looked at your pet and had an image pop into your head of ripping its head off and taking a bite out of the exposed flesh? Well, this is the type of shit you have to deal with when it comes to the O in OCD. These are not thoughts you want, or which reflect your persona in any way, on the contrary, the vast majority of people suffering from OCD would never want to hurt a fly let alone ever do it, unless there's something else fucked up inside their heads. These are really intrusive thoughts that just randomly pop into your head all the time, that horrify the hell out of you (the mere fact that such thoughts can exist inside your mind horrifies you), but that you can't get rid of.

Now you gotta imagine, after a few years of suffering through these kinds of thoughts that are so strongly contrary to the person I am, I found myself slipping deeper and deeper into utter despair. I wanted that shit out of my head so badly. But there was nothing I could do but somehow arrange myself with having this illness, because not only are the therapeutic options limited at this point, even worse, we don't even really know all that much about what's happening inside the brain of someone suffering from OCD. So basically, what doctor tell you is that they can't do anything except try antidepressants which may or may not ease the symptoms a little bit, and other than that, you have to accept that these thoughts come to you, and you have to accept them as normal, because if you suppress them it only makes them stronger. Well, thanks.

So I tried that. But as it goes, there are repeating obsessions, and sometimes some of them fade away, and sometimes new ones pop up. The latter was what happened in the weeks prior to my being referred to the schizophrenia ward. A new thought popped up. You see, as I described above, the thoughts I had were so horrifying and revolting to me that I felt deeply ashamed to the bone every time one occured. And then there was this new thought: What if other people could actually see them? I know that as we currently understand it in science, seeing another's thoughts is not possible, but a very tiny "what if...?" lingers in most people, as it is so deeply ingrained in myth and folklore that it's hard to resist. It was not an obsession at first, just a thought, but it quickly grew into something that took a considerable amount of my thinking time. Didn't take long and every time one of these violent intrusive thoughts I named examples for above popped into my head, and there was somebody else around me, my first thought would be "Oh god, what if that person just saw that thought?"

Long story short: I went to my doc and told him about that and that I'd like to be an inpatient to somehow get hold of myself, because that new obsession made the regular obsessions ten times worse, and geniuses as these doctors are, it went "Oh, you think others can read your mind? That's paranoid schizophrenia, let's send you to the schizophrenia ward with that exact diagnosis."

Haldol - Part 2/2 coming soon...

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