I’m a married 50 year old professional woman (ex-Construction Project Manager) who, when faced with enormous job-related stress, began hearing voices in my head, which I thought were ESP. I had no history of mental illness and no history of drug use. But within 3 1/2 months of hearing voices, my hallucinations and delusions progressed to the point that I couldn’t tell fantasy from reality.
My slew of delusions and hallucinations included believing that I was a mermaid, seeing people with green skin (whom I believed were mermaids), believing that people were communicating with me via ESP, and hearing fish, cats, and dogs talk to me. Oh yeah: and chatting with one bad-tempered blood pressure machine. Right before I was involuntarily committed to the mental hospital, I quit my (well- paying) job because my boss (via ESP) told me to. In the real world, my (real) bosses assumed I quit and filled my position. I spent money we didn’t have buying things we didn’t need, including a $55,000 Lexus Convertible Coupe, as well as thousands of dollars worth of plants, shoes, clothes, makeup, etc.
I lost my well-paying job and just about destroyed my marriage and my financial future before I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, where I spent three long weeks getting pumped full of nasty chemicals in an effort to rebalance my brain chemistry. The cost of medical care, including the $60,000 for the three week stay at the mental hospital as well as the $550 a month in medicines, is tremendous.
A huge blow to our finances is the fact that I can’t work at my old job- the job I loved and was well-paid for- any more. I loved the pressure-cooker environment of that job. But let’s face it: it landed me in a mental hospital. If I want a return ticket to the loony bin, I’ll go back to that job. That is if they want a project manager who can’t think very fast or very clearly, and who has balance problems and a few more unmentionable side effects of the meds. And who hears voices when she gets under stress. That project manager- the new me- would probably be a hard sell.
I’m slowly learning to come to terms with the limitations of my new life as a Mentally Ill Person. Upon admission to the mental hospital, I was diagnosed with Bipolar One with Psychotic tendencies. However, because my “go-to” symptom is hearing voices when placed under any kind of stress, my diagnosis has been “upgraded” to include Schizoaffective Disorder.
To give others the benefit of my experience, I’m writing this blog and have finished my memoir. The name of my memoir is Pangaea: Confessions of an Erstwhile Mermaid, which is available in Kindle form through Amazon.
As a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presenter, I give talks to various groups including college students and police officers, describing life as a mentally ill person. I also run a NAMI-sponsored support group called Connections. I look forward to making a positive contribution to the world through my relationship with NAMI as well as through my blog and memoir.