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Thread: Down the rabbit hole and back again (PG-13)

  1. #1

    Default Down the rabbit hole and back again (PG-13)

    A story about family, mental illness and the craziness that comes with it

    Rating: PG-13 for some mature themes

    Genre: Psychological, adventure

    (The following events are based on a true story but some names and events have been changed to protect the identities of the characters.)


    Do I have a mental illness? Maybe but the better question is, do I care what other people think about that? And my answer is a resounding, HECK NO! So long as no one is getting violent or hurting themselves, then that person should have FULL control over their own medical goings on. Then again, I am a 20 year old male still living at home with mum and pop so maybe that in itself is a bit crazy. My name is Mike Whistler and I have been diagnosed with having a mental illness!

    Bipolarity, depression, Schizophrenia, manic something or other, take your pick but I am getting ahead of myself. I suppose that it would be best if I started at the beginning. (not of my life but the start of some troubling events as I remember them) As an average high school graduate, I had taken some time off and had begun looking for work. Excellent attendance, decent grades and a spotless criminal record gave me the impression that finding employment would be easy.

    This is when I got the rude awakening of a lifetime. Not only had jobs become scarce for some reason but I was regularly being turned away from even fast food positions. (which I always assumed were easy to get) My once supportive immediate family members gradually became obsessed with my prolonged unemployment. Almost every conversation soon devolved into an awkward interrogation about the progress of my disastrous job search. I was doing my best and even doing my part with household chores but it was like they just did not care anymore.

    As the employment search dragged on, the constant rejection from the real world (job applications not getting me hired) and increasingly aggressive behaviors from those who I shared a home with, all started to take their toll on my mental wellbeing. It is one thing to have a stranger insult a person but it is entirely different to have those put downs coming from your own (former) support network. I started to feel isolated and betrayed. (partly due to not keeping in touch with friends from high school) When the clones from Episode 3 turned their blasters on the Jedi, I would imagine it felt very similar to what I was going through.

    With no obvious light at the end of the tunnel (in regards to a job) and family members displaying the worst possible sides of their personalities, the vast majority of my attention became divided and scattered. My room was at the far side of our single story house but I gradually became scared to even set foot into the hallway. With the line between friend and foe becoming more muddled by the day, I became tense and paranoid. Activities that I once enjoyed became undoable because it seemed like every time I started to relax or let my guard down, someone would find me and start screaming about my unemployment.

    Occasionally I managed to watch some TV in peace but it was not much fun anymore. By this point I had become fearful enough that when bad things happened on the television, I thought that they could be connected to the real world in some way. This led to many of my favorite programs actually scaring me half to death instead of helping me to feel better. Without much to do except look for a job (which seemed to be an exercise in futility) I quickly became bored out of my mind. At least I still had my imagination to keep me company but without a balanced lifestyle to ground it in reality, my creative side soon went out of control.

    Now feeling quite alone (despite still being around other people) I began trying to make sense of why my life turned out this way and why all of these things were happening to me. Some of my favorite theories were: Had my family been killed by wild animals and replaced with look a likes? Was it possible that they had been brainwashed or taken over somehow?! As I was busy trying to disprove these thoughts in my own head, I would sometimes appear to be doing nothing but blankly staring into space. But since when did it become a crime to sit quietly and expect not to be bothered?! Needless to say, the unfriendly behaviors of the people around me reinforced these unsettling theories rather than helping to dispel them.

    One day my father barged into my room and informed me that we would be taking a little trip to the doctor’s office. (apparently it was now against the rules to even think to myself) I went along quietly, it is not like I had anything better to do. Even though we were only driving through the suburbs, my healthy sense of paranoia gave me the feeling that we were traveling through a war zone. I saw it as an important escort mission and there is no telling who is on my side or how long they would stay that way. I nervously take note of every detail, the animals that are around, the color of vehicles, pedestrians, since I could no longer be certain of who was my ally anymore, I needed to consider every living thing as a potential enemy.
    Last edited by Soaring Pikachu; 2nd October 2012 at 1:51 PM.

  2. #2



    Thankfully I arrive at the hospital without incident but something did not seem right. I am taken to a place that I had never been before and brought in front of a doctor who is not our families regular physician. He asks me several questions and one that sticks out to me is: "Do you hear voices?" (In hindsight, I probably should have asked what he meant by "voices" was he referencing the sounds that come out of a radio or was this some kind of hearing related question? Either way he said at the start that there were no wrong answers so,) I replied "yes" thinking that he was referring to normal brain thoughts or something. Clearly we had different ideas of what that answer meant because I soon found myself in the day room of the mental hospital. In all honesty though I already felt secluded anyway so the change of scenery did not bother me.

    The hospital was not so bad, it would have been kind of awesome if not for the daily forced drugging’s. (a bit like a summer camp for adults really) My search for employment may have been a big cosmic joke on me but that does not mean I was ready to give up. Since there was no chance of getting hired while I was hospitalized, I would not be able to stay here forever. With the never ending harassment from my family halted temporarily, I soon regained enough courage to go back to my old home and begin the search anew. Getting an apartment and leaving was not an option, as I obviously had no money and becoming homeless would not exactly speed up my search for a job.

    Time passed and things got better, at least for a while. I managed to find that ever elusive job that I had been seeking for so long and thought that my troubles were behind me. While food service may be some peoples true calling, I was still curious to see what else was out there. Due to my inexperience in the job market, I gave my 2 weeks’ notice and departed from my job before having found a proper replacement. This turned out to be my downfall, as no sooner than I was without employment that once again my family members turned on me!

    I went through similar issues as before but things were a bit different this time around. My time on the job had given me a chance to regain some self-esteem and form new relationships outside of the family circle. I may have still been on my own in terms of physical proximity but in terms of the hearts and minds of the people that I had met, encountered or talked to, I was not really by myself at all. (a critical lesson that I had somehow forgotten about) So I wound up back in the mental hospital but this time I knew WHY! (My problems are chiefly due to my borderline psychotic family members but I share blame as well, for thinking that living with my parents any longer than is absolutely necessary was ever a good idea. Even under ideal conditions, it is just not a great strategy in the long run)

    Now that the source of my mental distress had been confirmed, my true recovery could start. Thanks in part to the safe environment that is a mental hospital, I was able to get myself together faster than ever. (and also patch up some mental loopholes, securing my own mind in the process, so to speak) I met several very nice people and some of them seemed to be just as out of place as me. To say that "mental illness" is an umbrella term is an understatement but the wide reach of the "condition" makes it that much easier to meet likeminded people. (though I never quite figured out how to handle the dilemma of what to do if I ever hooked up with a girlfriend who came out of a mental institution)

    As I stated before, the hospital would be great if not for the involuntary medications. For a good while I was still slightly freaked out and not sure if the world was a safe place again. During some scheduled outdoor time, I was fortunate enough to play a game of badminton with another patient. (which was challenging given that tennis shoes were not allowed in the facility) Afterwards the patient reached out their hand to signal a good game but I hesitated, because I feared that this person could be my soul mate or something similar and that touching them directly would cause the universe to collapse in on itself. (true story)

    I braced myself for the end and stretched out my hand. Much to my surprise, everything was fine. For me at least, the fact that the world did not explode was concrete proof that things were back to normal. (I warned you that I had an active imagination didn't I?) But this is about when I heard something kind of heartbreaking. A couple of days later, our group of patients was being walked through the building and as we are walking, one of the young women started reading a letter out loud that she had received. It basically said. "Sorry, we do not want you to live with us anymore." I did not know this girl all that well and I am sure that everyone’s situation is unique but it seems like an unforgivable thing to do to a person who is in the middle of dealing with a mental illness. She appeared to already have an alternate plan about where to live in mind, so I am sure that it worked out fine but I will never forget the moment that she received that cheap shot.

    I soon returned to my former home with a more accurate assessment of my surroundings. Although my family members past actions have been questionable, I am certain that they were only trying to help. (that does not change the fact that I am leaving at the first chance that I get but that is just the natural order of things) Now that they are properly identified inside of my head as potential hostiles, I will not be making any more appearances at the local mental hospital. Sometime later, I overheard a conversation dealing with one of my neighbors whose kid I used to babysit many years ago. They said something along the lines of, "Our son is misbehaving so we are going to send him to a psychiatrist to be medicated against his will." All I could do was quietly shake my head and think to myself that I wish that they would not do that...


  3. #3


    A few notes from the author and lessons learned:
    That is my story and I have been off of my meds for years and am dam proud of it! I will be the first to admit that medicine has its uses but people should really try not to be so reliant on such things. My body is a temple and there is never any excuse for violating another person without their permission. (unless you happen to be a medical professional)

    Sure there are emergencies where medications are the answer in the short term and sometimes they can be very helpful overall when they are not abused. However the choice to have someone diagnosed with a possible mental illness is not one to be taken lightly. If you are even remotely considering this path, I would strongly advise looking into other alternatives first. (especially if it is a problem that could simply be solved by talking with a therapist or guidance counselor) The mental health system should not be used as a scapegoat for peoples own bad parenting or other issues.

    99% of my initial stress after leaving the hospital actually came from trying to convince the people around me that there had been a mistake and that the medications (and its side effects) were unnecessary and unwanted. They would always just reply, "What you are saying is a sign of the illness, you poor pitiful confused person." What I found most alarming was their complete unwillingness to even consider other equally valid explanations or theories as to what was behind my odd behavior. They just took the first medical opinion that came along and treated it like the gospel or some indisputable truth.

    Eventually I overcame this problem by not caring what other people thought about it. (this is a bit harder to do if you are dependent on someone else) But if you clearly explain your position on an important matter and the people closest to you still try to force you against your will anyway then it may be high time to seriously reconsider that relationship. (of course there are always exceptions to this as well) Standard medical care such as a visit to the dentist (which can be unpleasant) is not included when I say this; I am specifically talking about doctors of the brain.

    On the opposite side of that thought, if you are the family member of a suspected ill person then please do not get involved unless you are going to commit for the long haul. A person with a mental illness cannot just decide to quit part way through, so don't you dare pledge your support and then abandon them later. Or at the very least, ensure that the position of caregiver is suitably re-filled if you can no longer continue for whatever reason. There is a lot at stake with all of this and failure is not an option. (at least not in my opinion anyway)

    Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome!
    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by Soaring Pikachu; 26th September 2012 at 1:10 PM.

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