What would I do now? Since I heard there was no cure for Schizophrenia and I might have it for the rest of my life, this means I might never be able to even live a normal life again! I might as well forget about any other dreams in general as well. Anyway, I tried the Prozac, but all it did was increase my anxiety to the point where every minute felt like an hour and I felt like a Mexican jumping bean! I couldn't even sit through an hour of class under Prozac, so I had to discontinue it. My psychiatrist moved, so I was referred to another one. This one diagnosed me as having Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder (OCD). He prescribed another drug called Mellaril or something. It didn't have bad side effects and I wasn't sure if it worked or not, hard to tell. Anyway, he was cold and uncaring even though I liked his assistant, the talking therapist. For some reason I don't remember, we went to a third psychiatrist and he diagnosed me as having a combination of both disorders, Schizophrenia and OCD! Oh great!
During the year I continued to go to church and my youth group every week and for Wednesday Bible study too, but it was never the same. Everyone I liked at the church moved away. I kept praying and hoping God would do something to make my life better and especially take away my Schizophrenia/OCD or whatever. Nothing happened. Nothing changed. In fact, it got worse and worse as the year went on. I didn't understand why God, who has absolute control over every atom and molecule in the universe, didn't do anything about this. By the end of the year, I felt so helpless, powerless and confused that I became depressed too. Then Summer came and I was glad to get away from school at least so I wouldn't have to deal with the pressures there and my disorder at the same time. But I still had no idea why my whole life changed just after one bad summer. I didn't understand why God let this happen. It didn't make sense! I mean I know about the story of Job, but come on! Dealing with the outer world is hard enough, but when you're mentally ill you can't even deal with your INNER WORLD, how does God expect me to deal with the outer world! How would I ever be a good witness for Christ in the state I'm in? How would I even live for Christ for that matter?
After Summer, school started again and I was a junior now. I was hoping this would be a better year, but instead this turned out to be the ABSOLUTE WORST HORRIFIC period of my life! I have labeled this period as the "Holocaust" of my life. I'm serious! When I hear or see the word "1989" I still feel a slight shudder of fear. My mind has blanked out this period so much from my memory that I don't even acknowledge that it existed. When I went back to school, I found that I was completely overwhelmed and didn't even have the will or interest in going to school or doing any homework. School felt threatening to me now. For some reason I could not cope with anything in life now. I even lost the desire to go to church because I didn't feel important to anyone there and the sermons didn't connect with anything I was going through. They were boring, repetitious and empty. Plus my prayers were never answered anymore and I had lost my fire for the Lord. I was too depressed and had no motivation to get up in the morning. Why get up when there was nothing but pain, loneliness, and schizophrenia rituals to look forward to everyday? I couldn't face all that and concentrate on tons of boring homework loads everyday. This also happened to be the most academically challenging school year in high school as well. Do you think I was in shape to deal with that? Yeah right. I had to stop going to school because it was pointless, lonely, and if I continued I would get all F's in every class.
As I stayed home on school days not knowing what to do, I felt hopeless and sank further and further into depression. I felt like my life was over. What was there to hope for? I felt like a drop out from life. There was nothing but doom, gloom and hopelessness. I lost even the ability to enjoy very simple things. I tell you, you've never known what true depression is like unless you've experienced it at that kind of level. It's something you never forget and it changes how you see things in a way because it's like you know what it's like to feel the worst you can feel. It's like you're so depressed that you can't even muster the energy to raise a finger simply because there's no point to. All the happy and fun times I ever had seemed like a false illusion now. There was no logical solution to my life. I saw no way out. Not only was I depressed and hopeless, but since my Schizophrenic symptoms hadn't lessened after a whole year, it looked like it would be with me forever. There was no way I could ever live a normal life if I had to spend hours each day in rituals and had trouble with even simple things like getting around the house. And there was no cure for Schizophrenia either. This means that not only will I never be able to live a normal life, have dreams, hold a job, get married or have children, but that I would also eventually have to spend the rest of my life in a mental hospital and be looked upon by society as a pitiful thing to be sorry for. There was no point to that kind of existence. I felt like the only escape was suicide. But I didn't even have the guts to do that. So all I could do was lay around feeling too depressed to even move and I tried to sleep as many hours as possible to escape all this. All I felt 24 hours a day during that time was doom and gloom. Even when the big San Francisco Earthquake of 1989 struck, I was lying down on the couch at my uncle's house too depressed to move. I felt the house shake and just thought "An earthquake? Big deal. Go ahead and kill me. Make the roof fall down. Then I won't have to endure this anymore." I still can't believe I said that even today. Anyway, what I experienced during those 6 months that year will never be forgotten, and I shudder even today when I think about it. What I experienced is not describable with words. It's like your soul and life force are being sucked dry to death and you are completely helpless to do anything about it. It's very very very difficult to conceive that I went through this and at the same time conceive of a God that exists.
Admittance To A Mental Hospital
My parents were at a loss as to what to do, so they sent me to a local mental hospital. I was scared at first, but the staff turned out to be very supportive and I enjoyed the environment. It became a great getaway and I enjoyed the pool, volleyball and other activities. The food was pretty good too. For the first time in a while I felt able to enjoy things again. I didn't feel the pressures I had in my school and home life. I even played a lot of chess there and beat all the staff and the other patients :) After a month or two I was discharged from the mental hospital. I was reluctant to leave though, which was funny because I was dragged kicking and screaming in there but now I felt sad to go and leave such a nice and supportive place. Since I didn't want to deal with that snobby school I hated again though (by the way this was the same school Kristi Yamaguchi the world famous ice skater graduated from just to let you know), they decided to send me to a different high school for just a few classes because they didn't want to risk me being overwhelmed again. So I only took 2 classes at the new school and did the rest on home schooling. This worked out and I felt refreshed and at peace for once in a long time.
Return To Taiwan
After the school year, I decided I wanted to take a big break from all that I went through and go to Taiwan for a year to teach English and be with my relatives who were the only ones who liked me for who I was. It seemed like it would be a good way to recuperate from what I went through. Everyone in my family agreed that it was a good idea because
1) We were afraid that if I just started school again after summer then I might be overwhelmed again by school, life, Schizophrenia and depression like I was last year and not be able to function again. I certainly didn't want to take that risk.
2) After a year in a good environment with lots of caring people, my mind might grow and develop and become mature enough to deal with school and life when I came back.
3) Also, it would give my Schizophrenia/OCD rituals a year to heal or lessen somewhat, which would further help me to deal with school when I came back.
It turned out that we were right! When I came back after a year, I was a whole different person in a lot of ways, which I'll get into later. I had a lot of fun there and made a lot of friends too. It was the first time in two years that I felt really happy and enthusiastic again. It wasn't that I just had a good time there, it was that I was so relieved to have made it out alive through the last two years when I thought my life was over. I wasn't doomed after all I guess. It was just such a relief, and I felt this relief everyday for an entire year. After all when you go down to the bottom of a pit, there's nowhere to go but up! It was a wonderful refreshing feeling, kind of like the feeling you get when you get out of the shower you know, except that you feel it for the whole year! Because I felt so much better and free, my Schizophrenic symptoms lessened so fast that I forgot about them soon!
During that year my mom came to visit me in Taiwan for a few months and took me to see some Spiritualist healers and Taoist-like temples to try to get help for the mental illness I had for 2 years. Three Different spiritualists who didn't know each other told her that they could "see" two souls inhabiting me for a past karmic crime I committed against them. She was instructed by the leaders of a Taoist-like temple to perform these strange exorcism rites, which involved putting leaflet spells above the bedroom I slept in and having me take baths in some hot herbal water tossed in with yellow spell leaflets. It was all weird to me and my Christian world view taught that Satan was behind these kind of things. But I thought oh well, being a Christian never helped me through those 2 hellish years anyway, so why not give Satan a chance at helping me? Anything would be better than having to go through what I went through again. So I just went along with everything to humor my concerned mother. During some of their temple rites, I saw some strange things that I never knew existed in any religion. While in a trance or channeling-state, one of the spiritualists made a lot of fierce and fast movements. I was wondering if he was possessed or something. After the spells and exorcisms, they said that the 2 spirits in me were gone and that I would gradually return to normal. To speed up the process of returning to normal, they suggested that I become a vegetarian as well. I tried that and liked it too, so I stuck with it up to today. My conscience felt cleaner when I didn't eat meat, plus the vegetarian food there in Taiwan was absolutely delicious! Anyway I had fun the rest of that year and I taught English in tutoring schools as well. My mental disorder thing had also decreased to where it was controllable.
Optimistic And Ready To Tackle Anything
When I came back after a year, I felt confident, energized, optimistic and ready to tackle anything. I started my senior year in that new high school that I went to before I left. I didn't make that many friends there because it was hard for me to break into the already formed cliques, but at least everyone was nice to me and respected me which I wasn't used to. It was a boring year, but at least I had peace of mind everyday and I easily faced each day with confidence and drive. Homework was easy because I could select classes that were easy or interesting so I finally started getting good grades. I found that I could think and concentrate clearly too, so I had a lot of control over my thoughts and emotions for the first time. Maybe it was because the vegetarianism helped clear my conscience? I don't know. But either way, I found it easy to read and write and to be excited by even the little things. Amazingly, some cognitive abilities and talents I never knew I had appeared out of nowhere! I suddenly felt like I had mastery over organizing my thoughts and words so that I could communicate any thought or idea I wanted. No thought or idea was too difficult to put into words, and I could do it all in a very organized coherent way too! I never was good at writing until then. My speech and writing became very articulate. Wow! I could write school papers and essays easily and could summon lots of creative thoughts and insights at will. It all became second nature to me. In addition, I found that my depth of understanding had greatly increased, and I could also see things from a lot more angles than I ever could before. This of course, made all my essays and school papers even better. It was like my cognitive, intuitive, insight and awareness jumped up a level by itself!
Later that year, I felt that it would be a good time for me to get back into Christianity again. I missed having the sense of purpose it gave me. So I started reading the Bible and other Christian books again, and remembered all the "Josh McDowell" intellectual arguments I used to support the Christian faith that I thought were irrefutable. I found a Christian Club on campus and I started going to a church referred to me by some of the people in that Club. I was on fire for the Lord again and started witnessing to people again too. One time, I even came close to getting into trouble with some Muslim Afghan students at the school, because they were insulted at me trying to convert them to Christianity. They said that if I was in their country, a mob would kill me for attempting to convert people! lol But I didn't care and I was willing to take a few beatings for the truth of the Gospel of Christ because the true living God was working behind it, so I had nothing to fear. On another occasion, I even went to my Art History teacher after class and asked him why after a week of teaching us about Christian Medieval Art he never once mentioned about what Christ did for us on the cross and the Gospel he preached. I left him a Gospel tract and said that he could learn about what Christianity was about in it. He just said that he wasn't the right person to be sharing this with and that I should be sharing it with fellow students instead.
After I graduated from high school, for some reason I never again regained interest in Christianity. This had always been a mystery to me until now. Only recently have I realized that the likely reason was that I had probably used Christianity as a crutch to get through life and give it meaning.
An Honest Look At Christianity
After high school my childhood problems were gone and I needed no more crutches. It was then that I could finally take an honest look at Christianity and deal with the negative irreconcilable aspects of it that I always knew were there but didn't dare face it for fear of blasphemy and because I needed the sense of purpose it gave me. Soon, my doubts started creeping in.
(Continued in Part 3)
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Copyright © 2000 Winston Wu
July 9, 2000