New Year’s Eve of 2007 I was staying at my sister’s house and I became extremely paranoid and terrified that my brother-in-law was trying to kill me. I ran out of the house and into a neighbor’s house and they called the police and I was taken to a psychiatric clinic in Florida…
I remember that night my pulse was racing, as the nursing assistant took my vital signs, and because there was no bed available, I slept on the couch, but anyone who has ever suffered from extreme paranoia knows you don’t sleep much.
I lost complete touch with reality. The only reality that existed to me was the voice of my pastor. I began hearing his voice, and became obsessed with the thought of him. I also thought the FBI was coming to take me away, and that everyone could read my thoughts…
The next day after I arrived at the clinic, they told me that my mother was flying in from Puerto Rico to see me. I was happy. I loved my mother, and wanted to see her. When she came I asked if she would stay with me in the clinic. She said she couldn’t. I believed that if my mother would just stay with me, it would comfort me enough to die in my sleep.
My poverty and helplessness was so great. I can only imagine what I looked like. What was I like to be around? What did my eyes say? There was so much fear, and death around me.
When I was discharged from the clinic, my mother met me. She told me she was taking me back to my sister’s and I became terrified. I was absolutely terrified of my brother in law and thought he was trying to kill me. I eagerly called my father from the car, and surprisingly remembered his phone number and told him I wanted to come home. He bought an airline ticket for my mother and I that day, and my mother brought me to a motel to stay at. My sister visited me that night before I left, and I never slept.
I got up to go to the airport with my mother still in a delusional and paranoid state, and when I arrived in Boston the EMS had to escort me out of the plane. I thought I was experiencing heart palpitations, but it was an extreme panic attack.
I was put in a wheelchair and escorted to the arrival section and my aunt and father met me there. I heard my aunt say, “Cathy’s in a wheelchair!” and when I saw my Father, I got up, hugged him, and began to sob. My father and mother left me to get the car, and my aunt stayed with me as I cried. I thought, about running away from them. I began to vilify my father, and didn’t trust his intentions towards me, but instead I went to the bathroom, and walked out of the airport with my aunt and into my father’s car.
The next couple of weeks were intense. I moved around a lot, from my aunt’s house, to friends’ houses, and finally ended up in an emergency room where the admitted me into a psychiatric unit. I stayed there about a month, and was heavily medicated. When my mother finally discharged me I still was not in a state of reality. That would take another 3-4 weeks. I initially stayed with a Christian couple for the first couple of weeks out before my mom rented an apartment and took me in. It was a couple of weeks after that in regularly taking my medication, and my mom praying over me that I came out of the delusion and paranoia and back into a state of reality. It was like waking up from a very bad dream. I was lying in bed, and all of a sudden I realized all I had believed was a lie. None of it was true. I remember going into a room where my mother was watching TV, and asking her questions. I had wakened up. I was finally home.
Even though reality had hit, it wasn’t over. When I awoke from my delusional and paranoid state, I became extremely depressed. All I thought about was my lost opportunity. I had gone to Florida in the prime of my life seeking ministry opportunity, and ended up coming back to Boston with an extreme psychotic breakdown. I felt as if everything was lost. Everything I had built my life towards was shattered, and the woman I once was and esteemed to be was no more. I felt as if I had to start all over at ground Zero and rebuild myself and my life. I think this is often how people feel that have experienced tragedy of some sort. I ended up hospitalized with suicidal ideation one last time. I realized while I was there, that I was becoming use to these hospitals, and If I wasn’t careful, I would become institutionalized in that hospitals would become a way of life for me. I had to find other ways to cope. I had to break free….
It took a while; plugging into community, prayer, work, and good counseling. I still take my medication every day, and almost 7 years later, I have to say I live a happy and peaceful life. I’m eternally grateful to God, my friends and family for never giving up on me, and for loving me in my broken state into a place of wellness and peace and even joy at times. I’m grateful…