Strange Voices… ?

114636_red_i.jpgI was reading over at “de-conversion“, and saw a post by “Thinking Ape” where he mentioned that;  

“most schizophrenics don’t believe it is god talking to them, if anything, it is usually the devil”. 

Now, I’m sure this is his opinion… but, sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, and from what I have seen, I agree.  Schizophrenia runs on my mom’s side of the family.  I think she has some form of it, although she’s never been diagnosed.  Her mother, and her brother both were mostly institutionalized.   I’ve mentioned this before - and how she’s not like them… but, still… 

I use to visit my Mom’s mom, my grandmother, frequently.  Psychiatric wards and hospitals are some scary places, Man.  When I was a kid, she use to come to our house and visit for a day or two.    I always thought she was odd… but, I knew she was sick, and just accepted it.  I still loved her, and felt she loved me.  She use to want to come and live with us… she’d stay in my room and make comments, like “what a nice spare room you have here”.  And, I was like, “hey!?  That’s MY room!”.  LOL  As I grew older, I watched her go in and out of different homes, but, always wound up back at a more secure hospital.  Eventually, my mom stopped taking her out of those places for visits, and we would go see her there.  We, meaning myself and her… sometimes, my one brother.

My Grandmother’s behavior was unpredictable.  Sometimes funny.. like, she’d just start taking her clothes off anywhere… and, sometimes, confusing… where I just couldn’t tell what she was saying or doing.  It was difficult to understand what she was saying most of the time, but, when I could make it out, it was frequently something about Satan, Beelzebub and scary stuff.   She sometimes looked like she was possessed… or like she wanted to scare you. 

I think Grandma believed herself to be possessed by demons.  What a scary thought!!   I wonder, if my mother heard/hears voices like that sometimes??  That is scary too.  Maybe that is why she was convinced my dad was the devil himself??  Perhaps that is why she is so religious?  Perhaps, she NEEDS to be - to ward those evil voices off?  I don’t know?  I’m just “what if”-ing here…

In my Grandmother’s last several years on this earth, I visited her much more than my mother did.  I don’t think my mom could take it.  Then, my mom was out of the country, so she wasn’t even here when she died.  I think she was relieved to not be here to handle things.  I think my mother  really did believe that  she (her mother/my grandmother) was possessed by demons and would get very agitated around her.  Even when she was trying to do something nice for her birthday or something, my mom seemed mostly annoyed with her.  We never stayed long.  Almost like she thought my Grandmother was purposely being schizophrenic to make her life hell.   I’m sure it was difficult on her (my mom) too her whole life.  I’m sure I’ll never know just how difficult…

I felt bad for my Grandmother.  I saw her as a lonely old woman… sick… confused.  Not evil.  As an adult, I visited her regularly and brought my son.  She always  looked so happy to see us… and never wanted us to leave.  She always told me she loved me, and squeezed my hand.  Yeah… she still acted weird often.  But, I found that if I laughed off her weird behavior, or just acted like nothing and changed the subject – she usually snapped out of it.  I felt like I was the only good thing she had to look forward to.  

My uncle is a different story.  I hardly know him, and the few times I did visit him I felt very unsafe and awkward…  My Mom does visit him, though, and she doesn’t seem to have those same ill feelings towards him as she did her mother.  I guess, I can understand that..  he’s her kid brother.. she doesn’t blame him…. I think she does blame her mom for a lot… even though it was not her fault.  Sounds familiar… eh?

The more I recently am learning about growing up with a mentally ill parent, the better I not only understood myself, but also my mother.  Ok, now I’m reeeeealy feeling guilty – I still haven’t called her.  I will… right now!  LOLetinf!

~smj

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7 Responses to “Strange Voices… ?”

  1. Thinking Ape Says:

    Your grandmother sounds a lot like my grandmother-in-law. She is a pentecostal, although I don’t know her enough to say whether the schizophrenia and the Pentecostalism in her life are related. She can be the sweetest little lady, but can be quite irrationally hostile (especially towards my mother in law).

    You pointed out my comment at de-Conversion. I had/have a very mild case of schizophrenia, but was controllable without drugs and a lot of heartache and perseverances. I found much of the cure within agnostic Buddhism of all places, which had great influence in my de-conversion from fundamentalist Christianity. I didn’t want to get into it at de-Conversion, but I felt that the point had to be made that most schizophrenics “hear” or “see” things that are usually demonic and evil, leading to paranoia, rather than things that are good and “holy”. A huge obstacle in my life was that my mother had always taught me that Satan could not harm Christians. So when I was tormented by “demonic forces” this presented a theological problem for me. No doubt, some serious subconscious issues were at play. Schizophrenia plays on our fears, not our hopes. My biggest fear, as an evangelical, was hell – it was not until I let go of the fear of hell that I could be cured.

    I have heard this from more than half a dozen other recovered schizophrenics from within the evangelical tradition. I have also kept up to date with the latest scientific advanced in the field. Scientists have apparently found a way of figuring out what schizophrenics see, which is especially useful when the cases are so horrible that the victim cannot even express oneself. In almost all of these cases, they were “seeing” demonic forces attacking them or chasing them. The others were usually being taunted by aliens. I have yet to personally hear of a schizophrenic “hearing” god.

    =========SMJ REPLY:

    Thanks for the comments, T.A. This makes perfect sense. My mother’s whole side of the family has that very strict, southern Baptist, thing going. So, I can see where this would happen to her, or anyone that had any illness. I think it’s remarkable that you were able to control and get thru your bouts with sz. Like you, my mother is very intelligent… she taught at a college for a while, before giving it up to work at a Christian school. Unlike you, she doesn’t believe or think much about science. She’s in deep with the church…. I don’t think she’ll ever change. Still… I’ll leave some “agnostic Buddhism” phamplets lying around. (which does sound interesting)
    Take care,
    ~smj

  2. tom sheepandgoats Says:

    Of course, I had to follow your link to the other blog straight over here and read a few posts. This is an interesting blog. Not “same old, same old…”

    ======SMJ REPLY:
    Thanks Tom… I’m nothing, if not different. ;)
    ~smj

  3. petryan Says:

    You have some great insights here. I have been working with schizophrenics for 20 years what do you think about my ideas regarding this?…

    http://axis1.wordpress.com/2007/08/15/rem-sleep-and-schizophrenia/

    This is my blog. Thanks Petra

  4. Cafe dog Says:

    about seven years ago i had pchycotic episode. I had conversations with god (she was very pleasant) as well as had visions of: choirs angels and demons.
    what is so strange about this to me is: I have never “believed” in angels, devils, or God… neither worshipped or “rebelled” against religion.
    very strange… and i dont know the sources of these delusions.

  5. samanthamj Says:

    Dog –
    Really? Very interesting. I assumed my grandmother and mother talked so much about satan because they WERE brought up so religious… but, you just blew that theory to hell.

    So… ummm… I have to ask. What did God have to say for herself? I’m envisioning Alinis Morissette from the movie Dogma – but, she didn’t actually talk… =)

  6. Cafe dog Says:

    I reviewed my very traumatic psychic episode, over and over afterwords. The simplest way to state my conclusion about it: it does NOT follow anysort of psycho-analytical logic. I also delusionally believed bald men were evil. I have never had a problem with baldmen in ant time pryor.

    Ther seems to be a notion amongst some athiests(some who have visited your blog) that “religion is a form of mental illness”.
    there is no antropololical, medical, or sociolical evidence of this. This notion is suspect and offensive to MH managers

    I am a life long agnostic and i have manage mental illness (successfully) for a long time

    “Gods voice” was very comforting (I was in the hospital when we spoke LOL)

    Say, why didnt they let Alanis talk in Dogma anyway. Silent Bob.. or Silent Alantis?

  7. samanthamj Says:

    Hey C-Dog –
    Again, verrrry interesting. Bald men? Just goes to show there is no “norm” or explanation for so much that goes on in our heads, huh? And, it’s good to know that when you heard God – she was comforting. Both because it’s cool to know that not all psychic episodes (when you hear voices) are “bad”, and because I tend to have a hard time thinking of God in the old “God is Good” concept these days…

    I have heard of the theory that “religion is a form of mental illness” – but, have never remotely believed that myself. I don’t think too many people do – do they? I have heard it kicked around… and I can see why it would be offensive to MH managers, and lots of people in general. I have a lot of good friends and know a lot of people who are Christians, and religious. I would never think they had something “wrong” with them for believing in something I don’t. Sometimes, I envy them even…

    I do think that religion can be very seductive to people that are mentally ill, however. My mother, for example. It is a way for her to ration out the dellusions/illusions, etc. She can believe in miracles, and demons, rather than admit she might need medication. I don’t think she’s alone here.. It worries me that while she (and other mentally ill) might actually find some comfort and help at church, they probably also don’t get much needed help that a doctor could offer.

    In the past – religion and psychiatrists/doctors didn’t get along very well on mentally ill topics. I actually think that might be starting to change, and that perhaps they can start working together to help people – rather then making folks take sides. I hope, at least.

    I give you a ton of credit for dealing/managing all that you have, and dealing with it so well. You seem very self aware and matter of fact about it all. I also appreciate the honest dialogue about everything and I love your poetry and take on things. Thanks for sharing. =)

    ~smj


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