At this point, it was clear I needed to see a doctor. My mom’s health insurance didn’t kick in until March, so I had two months to cope. I was essentially a husk by now. I looked at a mirror and literally didn’t recognize the person I saw. I wanted to punch that mirror. To this day, I can’t look in a mirror when I’m not feeling well. At that time, I still hit myself to try making the voices stop, which they never did. I lay in bed all day every day. Sometimes I would go to my computer to do something, lose all motivation, and on my way back the five feet to my bed, I would crumple to the floor because I was just unable to move. I was empty.
Once, I went upstairs from my room, ran into my mom, and didn’t recognize her face as a human’s face. Another time when I tried going back downstairs, there was just a wall where the stairs were supposed to be. Everything looked wrong somehow. People were melting piles of flesh, they were wearing masks. Going to school was horrifying, and I was starting to have more than one panic attack every day.
The voices would shout at me during school. I was late to school a lot, missing first period regularly, which caused me to almost fail the class at the end of the semester (plus the teacher didn’t like me because at that point I wasn’t outgoing or particularly friendly). By third period, I would feel that panic rise up. The people around me were breathing too loudly, they were too close to me, they looked too creepy. I had gotten permission somehow to go to the nurse’s office when I needed to, and I would go there daily, missing several classes, because of the panic attacks caused by the voices.
I had never had issues with anxiety before. I would be intimidated sometimes by new things, but I had no problem rising to the challenge. I was confident in myself and wasn’t self-conscious about anything. Honestly I think I had no reason to be. Not that people ever have to be self-conscious, but I hadn’t been particularly bad at a thing in my entire life that I can remember – if I had been, I simply didn’t care. But the voices did severe damage to my self-esteem, self-image, confidence, etc..
I am diagnosed with panic disorder. I believe this is a secondary disorder that developed because of the voices. I think it’s the one I have the most chance to recover from, but I still doubt myself constantly and regularly experience high levels of anxiety. It’s been about 8 years since I heard the voices to that severity, and to this day I deal with the effects they had on me. Anyway.
At Sentinel, I found it impossible to make friends. I couldn’t even look at anyone because they looked so wrong to me. I had my earbuds in. Even in class, I would have one earbud in, hoping the teacher wouldn’t notice. My English teacher had a strict policy about it, but my hair hid the cord effectively most of the time. Every few days she had to call me out and take away the one comfort I had. The music didn’t make the voices stop, but it gave me something else constant to hear, because the voices themselves were constant. There was no safe space, no break from them. They didn’t need to breathe, they were always with me. The music was the only thing that took up enough auditory space to provide any amount of comfort or stability, something to hold onto.
Someone approached me at Sentinel. A classmate from my English class. I remember listening to my music at lunch, looking at the floor, watching shoes pass by me. One pair stopped in front of me and was there for an abnormal amount of time. I finally looked up, he repeated himself for the third or fourth time, asking if I wanted to eat lunch with his friends and him. I didn’t eat lunch, especially not around other people, but I agreed, making some of the only friends I had at that school. Of course they were the stoner kids, which is just amusing to me. He apparently first talked to me because he struggled with mental health, and he recognized it in me too.
To be continued…