Thanks to R C, a consumer, a hero who shared her recovery in our Chinese F2F Education Class 2013-14 and at Education meetings on 2014 June., link to the file.
R C sharing
I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1970, just barely a year after I had worked as a research technician in a University of California campus. It was also a few months after I got my Master’s degree in Microbiology. I was relieved when my major professor finally signed my thesis in July, 1970 meaning that I had fulfilled all the requirements for my degree. I almost sang within me all the way driving back from my school to my place of work.
However, for a long time even when I was in school, I suspected people had been criticizing on everything that I did. I was miserable but could do nothing to stop people from their verbal attacks. I complained to my father and family members, they only tried to comfort me and encourage me to concentrate on my studies and work.
Then, on Labor Day weekend (the first Monday of September) 1970, I started to cry without stop at a family gathering at one of my cousin’s. I heard them criticizing me for my unconcern of my father’s sufferings. They wanted me to hand over the secrets of my research to the family who was working for the Chinese Communist Party. As I started to cry, the family gathering broke up, leaving me to stay at my cousin’s house.
My cousin had a doctor come and gave me an injection. I believed then that the injection could cause me to communicate with the FBI within my heart, and I went through in my memory all the people I came across in my life. I could not sleep for two nights. In the meantime, I continuously heard my family members pressuring me for the secrets of my research even though they were not in my presence.
I was frightful that my family was going to harm me, and sneaked away early one morning. Finally, I ended in a post office, meddling with their typewriters. The medics came and took me in an ambulance to the State Hospital. I finally was taken to a state mental hospital.
I had the idea that it was an espionage case for me. I was conscious of different groups of people trying to get a family secret from me, which was important for the world’s peace. There were three major groups contesting for the secret- The U.S., the Communists, and the United Nations. To indicate my preference for each group, I would have to dress in blue for the U.S., red for the Communists, and green for the United Nations. Then, the side of the corridor I walked was important also. If I walked on the right side, I was going to the U.S., the left side was for the Communists, and the middle was for the United Nations. If I walked into a room on the left side, I would have to walk around, so that the room would be on my right side such that I would enter it on the right side.
The meals I ate each day had meanings too. Breakfast meant to ‘break fast’. I needed to eat something to indict from what group I wanted to ‘break fast’ from. Lunch meant ‘to launch’. I had to eat something to say what I wanted to go for. Dinner meant ‘crazy (in Cantonese ‘din’ meant crazy) for’. I then had to eat something to mean which group I wanted to give the secret.
My thoughts and activities were so occupied with all the dress code and meals that I found it miserable to get up in the morning to do the right thing to say I wanted to stay in the U.S.. Besides, we had meetings, and people kept asking for cigarettes, which to me meant ‘secrets’. Deep in me, I knew I had no ‘family secret’ to tell anyone. I was frightened.
In the meantime, the hospital tried all different medications on me. Some gave me rashes, some gave difficulty in urination, some gave me constipations….. I only thought that they were trying some antidote on me as I had menstruation problems and I presumed that I was poisoned.
My father came to visit me from Hong Kong about a month after I was hospitalized. Rumors were that he came to pressure me not to tell the secret. I met him at one of the social worker’s office. The social worker asked if I was glad to see my father. I nodded, and she told me to show my father that I was happy to see him. I walked toward where he sat and bent and hugged him tight. He only stiffened and would not touch me in returned. My heart frozen and the thought “he didn’t love me but just came to stop me from telling the secret” was like a knife thrust deep into my heart. From then on, I lost hope for my father’s love.
I struggled with dress and meal for a while. I felt so tired that I decided to give up trying with thoughts that the worse was that they might put me to death. I stopped trying to dress and eat what I considered the correct way. Nothing happened, and life in the hospital remained the same. The voices projected from the TV about my espionage news gradually faded. I presumed that I finally was cleaned.
With Father here, and they had found a reasonably right medication for me, the hospital released me. Father found an apartment for us closed to one of the cousins and stayed to take care of me. I found a job as clinical microbiologist and worked for six months before I got my U. S. residency. Father then took me back to Hong Kong as I requested.
Grandmother loved me above all the grandchildren. I had a pleasant time in Hong Kong. I taught in a non-credited college for three years. Grandmother passed away in 1975 and I decided to return to the U.S. as I found it difficult to live with my step-mother. Besides, the college where I taught closed the Science Faculty and I did not want to teach high school annexed to that college.
Being in my early thirties, I thought of marriage and raising a family. I had been staying good with the medication found by a psychiatrist in Hong Kong. All the time, my family and I would not accept the diagnosis of schizophrenia and that I had taken the medication for life. I did not consult a psychiatrist and stopped my medication. Within a month, I had a relapse and had to be hospitalized again.
A closed friend told my father that it would be to my advantage that I took on a religion. Being a fervent Buddhist, my father sent me books on Buddhism. I read and discussed with him. He always said that I did not get the essence. I started to get tired of it. Then I came across some Christian booklet and got the idea that Jesus Christ could help and heal me. Maybe because I went to Christian schools when young, I readily accepted the thought and started to pray to Jesus for help. I began to find peace. I took Him as a Friend, and told Him all my thoughts.
I began to read a lot of Christian inspirational books and books by a Christian psychiatrist, Paul Tournier. In my readings, I discovered that my upbringing in an old-fashioned, conservative, and superstitious extended Chinese family had a lot to do with my illness. I had a lot of hatred and guilt because my mother passed away on my eighth birthday. Many family members considered me a ‘jinx’ and often openly told me so. Also, without a mother in an extended family I was unprotected from many of the criticisms and gossips. When I came to realize this, I was bitter and pained intensely. I told Jesus that. In my prayers and readings, Jesus exhorted me to ask for forgiveness and to forgive. I readily sent letters to ask for forgiveness, but only one replied. Jesus told me that it was all right for He had forgiven me. However, it was difficult to forgive. Again and again I told Jesus that all had truly and actually happened to me, how could I forgive? He reminded me of His death on the Cross, for sins that He had not committed. My sins and the sins of those who hurt me were included. I was not able to forgive.
The past came back to me like the evening tides for a long time. The pain was intensive and I could not rest. I kept crying to Jesus for help. He kept on reminding me of His forgiveness for all mankind. Finally, I yielded and told Him that I was willing to try but He had to help me. He promised. The past kept recurring, and each time I reminded Him of His promise and the pain subsided. Gradually I was able to face the past with peace.
Medication had help to stabilize me, but it had a lot of sided effects. As soon as I woke up in the morning, I felt a heavy piece of lead sitting on my heart and I could not lift up myself to get out of bed. I would curve into a fetal position and prayed for help to get up. When I finally got up, I felt I had somewhere to go, but I did not know where I wanted to go. I lost my concentrations and memory. The worst was that I had tremendous fear within me. Each day I look forward to night when I could go to bed and be unconscious of all these side effects. However, I often would wake up at three in the morning, and sneaked out to walk the street until the sun came out and went home. But since I found peace in forgiveness, all these side effects gradually subsided.
I wanted to be independent and self-supporting. I had been away from my field of work for a few years. It would be difficult to find a job. Some relatives and friends when they knew that I was looking for job in my field said to me, “Katherine, be realistic, since you had two relapses (I had a relapse because of an unsuccessful change of medication) you should know that you cannot use your brain for the kind of job you want to. Go and find a job in the grocery store where it is not so demanding for your brain, or find a house working job and save up for your old age!” I could not agree with them and believed that I could regain my brain power.
I had then worked as a waitress, took classes and got a real estate license and sold a condominium, worked as a bank clerk. Finally, I found an entry- level job in a biotech company making media and reagents. I then got lay-off because of lack of fund. With prayers from fellow church members and myself, I found a job with higher pay and position within three months. This happened again and I also landed in a higher pay job and better position. I ultimately worked as a research associate for more than nine years before I retired to write my story.
I wanted an endorsement from my last supervisor of work for my book. I told him my story. He was surprised, for all the more than nine years I worked for him, he said that he never suspected that I had a mental problem. And he knew some people that had my kind of problem also. In fact, all the people I came across told me that they never could tell that I had psychiatric problem. Even my psychiatrist said that he could not claim any credit for my well-beings. It is a miracle to him. I can only thank Jesus Christ for everything.
I had another relapse when I took off my medication again while I was working at my second biotech job. I recovered quickly from that with Jesus’ help. I finally accepted my diagnosis and that I had to have medication for life. Jesus chooses to heal me using medication. Like what my psychiatrist in Hong Kong said that my medication is my brain vitamins. I have to take it daily.
All in all, I can say with what a Pastor said in the beginning of his broadcast sermons, that “trust Jesus, and leave the consequences to Him.” I trust in Jesus’ healing power, and so I can live an independent life as I have always wanted.
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