Never Stop Searching For Answers

Never Stop Searching For Answers

When things don't make sense, don't give up.
August
August
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When I was in high school, a strange thing began to happen. I couldn’t recognize my friends in the hallway. I’d stare at people, frowning, trying to figure out if this person was a friend or just a face I remembered from somewhere. I’d run up to someone to hug them, and their body would freeze. I’d pull away, realizing I had mistaken someone else for my friend. This happened a few times until I learned not to smile, wave, or hug people unless I was sure it was my friend, or if they had initiated it first. I joked about it with my friends in the cafeteria, laughing about how I freaked random people out. We didn’t think it was anything serious. Sometimes I was spacey. Sometimes small chunks of my memory were missing, like when the coolest guy in school tried to talk to me in middle school. It was strange, but no one seemed concerned when I said, “I don’t remember.” People forget things all the time. There were just some things about me and the life I lived that didn’t add up, but that’s how life was, I thought. But it got worse.

During my freshman year of college, I began to realize that I couldn’t recognize people who obviously knew me. It wasn’t that I was popular and didn’t remember people from a party. It wasn’t that I was forgetful. I really couldn’t recognize people, couldn’t tell who this or that person was that was waving to me in the hallway or talking to me in class. Usually, I could blame not recognizing someone on my awkwardness or my tendency to get lost in my thoughts. But it was more than that. I still remember clearly the day when I realized it was a problem. I walked into the counseling office at Georgia State where I went often. The woman at the front desk greeted me by name, and my eyes widened. My body grew stiff with suspicion. Who the hell was this lady? Was she stalking me? How did she know my name? Did I know her? I squinted, trying to make out her features, but they only blurred together. Was she an imposter? A stalker? Was she a secret agent who was pretending to be a receptionist so she could spy on me? Was she following me because she knew my big secret and wanted to kill me?

“Hi,” I said finally. “I have an appointment.”

I went to see my counselor and told her that more and more I’d been having trouble recognizing people, and it wasn’t really a big deal until today. It didn’t really become frightening until now. My counselor listened to me, nodding.

“Do you need a new prescription for your glasses?”

I frowned, annoyed, but went to the eye doctor. My prescription was fine. Now, what was going on? I never found out until today, three years later. Weird things have happened in my life. Enough of the weird things were explained away as delusions or hallucinations. But this experience of not being able to recognize people around me was never explained. It sat in the back of my mind, collecting dust and doubt. I started writing about it in my memoir, just to see if it made any sense because I had never spoken about it to anyone but my counselor, who didn’t seem to think anything of it. A small voice in the back of my mind, a voice I have learned to listen to told me to keep searching for answers. Sometimes that voice tells me to sell all my material things and become a farmer, and I tell myself that I am experiencing mania. Sometimes that voice tells me that my loved ones are imposters, and I tell myself that I am experiencing delusions. But sometimes that voice tells me that someone is lying to me, and I call them out on it. I am right. There is a difference between intuition and delusion. The voice in my head doesn’t know that, so I have to sift through everything it tells me, deciding what’s logical and what’s not. Is the TV really a portal to hell or do I just need to calm down? Is there really a dead girl living in the dishwasher? That gut feeling...It feels the same to me no matter what the voice says. It’s up to me to figure out what’s true and what’s not. I’ve become my own parent, an essential part of growing up. I tell the voice not to lie, ignoring it when it gets carried away.

And I thought that voice was lying about the blurry faces and not being able to recognize friends or acquaintances, but a part of me didn’t want to give up. I wasn’t diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder until a little over a year ago. Little things that I never understood, big things that seemed impossible to understand or make sense of… Most of them were explained as symptoms of schizophrenia. I searched for answers for so long in books and movies. Sure, my life had an eerie similarity to authors suffering from schizophrenia in books I read in high school like The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness By Elyn R. Saks. But I was just a girl who liked to read, not a doctor, right? When I was diagnosed, it all seemed to finally make sense. Questions that haunted me for years finally had an answer. But there are a few things left that have not been explained, like how small chunks of my memory are missing or that I’ve had trouble in the past recognizing facial features. So I looked it up the other day. It seems like such an easy thing to do, but when you’re diagnosed, they don’t give you a sheet of symptoms you may or may not suffer from. It is your job to figure out where you begin and your illness ends. With treatment, it becomes easier to distinguish between you and your symptoms, but memories of confusion and uneasiness still haunted me. And big questions like “Is everyone puppets?” or “Is God real?” seemed silly to search for online. But I tried, anyway, typing what I thought was probably nonsense into the search bar and pressing enter. I knew that I had not had trouble recognizing people ever since I had started taking antipsychotics, and I wondered if there was a correlation.

And after years of staring uncomfortably at people that I felt like I should know, at people that are talking to me like they know me when I have no idea who they are, I finally have an answer. People with symptoms of schizophrenia have trouble processing facial features, according to an article in the Schizophrenia Bulletin. The answer was right there all this time. I just didn’t know how to put into words what I was experiencing. I didn’t know what to search for. Being diagnosed helped me with that, but it did not provide an answer for everything. My jaw hung on its hinges as I read the answers to a question that had been bothering me for years.

I remember sitting in my room night after night with several books from the library open on the floor. I was desperate for answers, for anything that might shed light on my confusing, sometimes interesting, sometimes scary existence. Philosophy didn’t satisfy me, raising more questions than answers. Organized religion seemed to evade my questions, addressing something else altogether. Novels had no concrete proof or facts. But I kept searching. That is why I started reading nonfiction and writing so much. I became interested in psychology and sociology. I started writing about my questions, hoping to find my way out of the maze by getting it out on the page. And some questions still hover around me unanswered, but so many have been answered with my diagnosis. And it’s a relief. It is a privilege to learn more about myself and finally understand what is going on. Being diagnosed did not put my experiences into a box, forcing my symptoms to fit into one illness or another. It provided enough answers to finally give me a sense of peace. I may never know why small parts of my life are blotted out, inaccessible to me, but I trust myself enough to know that there is an answer, and I will never stop searching for it.

Cover Image Credit: Skotcher

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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Why Ignorance In Our Country Is Not Bliss

And it never will be.

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The saying ignorance is bliss is a bunch of crap. Ignorance is ignorance.

With everything going on in our country, I think it is very important for us to be educating ourselves.

You don't trust the news? Do your own digging.

You don't understand? Do some research.

You don't have the same perspective? Share it.

You only have your religious beliefs to base your knowledge? Learn before you judge.

We live in a scary world today. People judge others they've never met or before they've ever heard their story. People involve themselves in matters that they shouldn't be involved in. People are trying to regulate other people's bodies.

People don't want to learn about the issues they so strongly believe in. People don't want to hear the other side. When did party affiliation become more important than being a human being? When did men get the power to decide what women can do with their bodies? When did we stop being compassionate? When did we stop being decent human beings?

I don't want to live in a world where I have all these questions.

I don't want to live in a world where a judicial system will convict a woman who got an abortion after she was raped, but won't convict her rapist.

I don't want to live in a world where my social media timeline makes me want to cry.

I want to live in a world where everyone's opinion matters, not just the one you agree with.

I want to live in a world where everyone's voice is heard equally, not just the one's in power.

I want to live in a world where everyone's story is taken into consideration, not just the one's the government wants you to hear.

I want to live in a world where I can raise a young girl and not be afraid for her.

I want to live in a world where we do good.

I want to live in a world where we have differences, but that doesn't make us any less equal.

I want to live in a world where we don't judge before we know.

I want to live in a world where religious beliefs are respected.

I want to live in a world where it doesn't matter what political party you are.

I want to live in a world where people see right from wrong.

I want to live in a world where I am not afraid.

What kind of world do you want to live in?

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