Have you ever thought you heard something, but it just turned out to be your imagination? Well, imagine having that happen on a daily basis. It can be a frightening experience. From strange noises to whole conversations, some threatening others confusing.
Let me ask you this. Have you ever been in such a rut that you felt like life wasn't worth it, yet to turn around and be on top of the world; going through weeks even months of suffering from these extremes.
These scenarios happen to millions of Americans each year. I am one who now suffers from a schizoaffective disorder.
I didn't always suffer from this affliction, or as Paul of the Damascus Road would say, thorn. I was on a path that any recent college grad would have enjoyed. I had a stable job, and I volunteered at two prominent non-profits. I desired to travel the world. So, I made it happen. I got my chance when I signed up for a program that allowed natural English speakers to teach in China. I was on my way. Things were exciting, new, and stressful at the same time. I give props to anyone who can live in a country so different than their own. After a few months, I had my Damascus Road Experience that, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure has ended.
I was in a city that didn't have many Christians. In China, Christian churches are either underground or state-sanctioned. Before this, I didn't often go to church. I didn't study the Bible as I should. I was just a sinner who tepidly believed in God. I was spiritual, as I would say. Well, I think I must have upset God for he knocked me down, stopped me, altered my mind.
I went from partying two to three times a week, teaching classes daily, exploring the city to running around the campus fearing someone was trying to kill me. I thought the military was watching me, even to the point of keeping me locked up in my apartment. I feared to go outside. I got in arguments with my co-workers and superiors. I even heard exotic animals that just weren't there. It didn't take long for my superiors to try to get me some help. They took me to a hospital with a mental illness ward. I stayed there one night (or more, I just don't know), after panicking and not understanding that people were trying to help me.
Not long after all this started, I was on a flight headed back home to the United States, doped up with a substance that I'll never know. However, my journey did not end once I arrived home. I had a short reprieve from my symptoms, but I started to hear loud, conflicting, speaking through walls kind of voices, again. It got to a point where it made me panic, made me fear, made me desperate. My mother called the city's Community Service Board that helps with mental illness. A representative came with law enforcement, of course, to evaluate me. They recommended that I go to a mental health hospital to try to get me stable. I was frightened, lonely, suspicious, and I no longer trusted my mom.
(Part two will post in March 2019).