Doctors treated my schizophrenic brain while I raged in protest. Why I’m now grateful.
My schizophrenia, I’ve been told, is just a “chemical imbalance in the brain.” It is not my fault. It is a brain disease. Drugs will stabilize me.
I don’t trust them. Instead, I believe that microscopic rats are eating my brain, a homicidal man is tracking my every move, and the Voices I hear are urging me to commit suicide.
I am terrified. What if the rats and Tracker and Voices win?
Or, what if my brain chemistry tilts further askew, spilling me slowly, surely further into my paranoid schizophrenia?
Which is it?
The experience of schizophrenia can be terrifying, but sometimes its treatment is just as distressing. Personally, I believed that the medication I was supposed in take in pill form had those tiny rats in it. When in hospital, I often received the medicine by forced injection and was tied up in five-point restraints. The injected anti-psychotic was usually given in conjunction with a needle of a sedative.
Both, I delusionally thought, contained more rats. I was again terrified, believing that those new medication rats would join the others in the consummation of my brain. That is, they would change the structure and thus the chemical balance of my brain.
Having my Master’s degree in neuroscience meant that I believed the doctors when they said my schizophrenia was a chemical imbalance; we were just at odds with the mechanism. Was it rats eating or dopamine, among other neurotransmitters, levels being off-kilter? We both had means of treatment: I would bleed the rats out, while the psychiatrist’s pills were designed to restore that oft-quoted “chemical balance.”