“Being Crazy Is Noisy”

From More Intelligent Life:

I hear voices (“auditory hallucinations”, technically). They come from all directions and fill my mind with hateful, self-destructive demands… [T]he most persistent and long-standing of my voices, which began when I was eight years old, pounds on my left shoulder like a jackhammer, repeating, “I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself.” It never ends. My response to this particular voice was to develop a permanent cringe in my right shoulder. I am now spending thousands of dollars to correct compressed discs in my neck that have caused me chronic pain for nearly 30 years.

Before my treatment, hospitalisations and incarcerations, these voices were all separate and distinct, with individual sounds, tones, rhythms and pitches. Now they are one voice–my voice. Once a chorus, they have become a soloist, though attacking me with the same message.

Author John Stern takes five different anti-psychotic medications every day. He has a wife and kids and works as a marketing manager for a large real estate firm. His story reminds me of why I consider Americans with mental illnesses, who live in a nation where people with brain disorders are met with the relentless, corrosive stigma that cancer patients never must face, to be heroic.

Stern may not need your companionship, but others with his illness do. Please consider choosing one person sharing our public spaces who is socially isolated by mental illness to have coffee with once a week. It sounds like a small thing, but over time it can make a difference in both of you. Please see  How do people volunteer freestyle? above.

(Stern continues his story at MoreIntelligentLife.com.)

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