Monday, December 22, 2008

Hearing Voices in the Land of the Rodent: Places to Avoid When You Have Schizophrenia

Yeah, so, I did the Disney Mistake yet again. This is like the fourth time in recent years (since I was diagnosed) that I agreed to go there with my mom. A couple of the other times there were other people with us, but not every time. See, my mom is a Disney fanatic. Her idea of solving life's woes is to get on I-4 and drive to Orlando, the Land of the Rodent. I, myself, am not really a fan of the Mouse. I think Disney is far too expensive, overrated, and generally a mentally and physically exhausting experience which I have a hard time quantifying as "fun". Yet, my mom wanted to go to the Very Merry Christmas party at Land of Rodent, and I agreed to go, since she bought my ticket and since she is my only mother.

Let me just say, I have learned some things over the years about what NOT to do when you have Schizophrenia. I never wrote it down before, and this occurs to me as the main source of my misery over the past four days. I spent two days in bed basically recuperating from Disney damage. Physical and mental damage. So the Number 1 Thing Not to Do when you have Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder is to spend a day or night or both at Disneyworld walking around and waiting in lines, and listening to 7 billion people's voices and music and being constantly surrounded by sensory input that is overloading your brain from the second you get there.

DO NOT GO TO THE LAND OF THE RODENT. Stop yourself on your way there, buy some oranges, go home. Just do not proceed into Mouseville. That is my advice, both for myself and for anyone else with the disorder(s) I have. Stay home. Watch a Disney movie if you must. But don't go there.

Why? Because the Mouse doesn't like you! That's why. The Mouse exists to make money off of parents, and that is the sole reason it exists. Parents of little children LOVE to drag those children through amusement parks all day and all night, snapping pictures of the crying, sweating, miserable kids the whole time. They even dress their kids up as princesses and make them walk around in ridiculous costumes all day (I kid you not), and all night. This makes them think that they are good parents, but more importantly, they seem to ENJOY THIS. I do not enjoy it. My mom still enjoys it a great deal. I did not EVER enjoy it. Not even when I was a snot-nosed kid myself. Okay, maybe I did for a little while, but not for the whole, exhausting, long day. Typically there would be a nuclear meltdown by my mom, and everything would turn negative pretty quickly. Luckily THAT humiliating kind of scene did not occur this time, but still, it was not really a good experience.

This is my theory on why I can't do Disney:

When I go somewhere, such as a shopping mall or a crowded Walmart, or, in the worst case scenario, Disneyworld, the amount of sensory input that assaults me from every angle simply overwhelms my brain. I know not to do these things now. The lights, the sounds, the scents, the louder sounds, kids screaming, parents yelling at kids, employees screaming over loudspeakers, people cramming into each other with their shopping carts, bells, whistles, the whole shebang at Walmart is too much for me to take. I cannot stand being in a Walmart for long, and if I am in one for long, there is generally some trouble. By trouble, I mean, psychosis. I will hear voices, hear secret messages and see things that I believe are sending me messages. I will also get irritable, panicked, and full of anxiety. I will need to LEAVE WALMART. And all that will go through my mind during the process is, "GET ME OUT OF HERE, NOW!!!"

So, my advice is, if you happen to have Schizophrenia, just don't go to Walmart unless it is 2 AM and not Christmas season - so there may not be anyone else there, and you may survive in tact, if you are lucky.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a social justice issue to me. It has nothing to do with the fact that Walmart goods are made by little kids in Indonesia - probably - or that the company has destroyed small businesses throughout the United States. No, in fact, I like a bargain as much as the next shmuck and I do, actually, go to Walmarts on occasion. But I always regret it. Walmart is not a natural environment for a human being to be trapped in. The amount of input that assaults your neurotransmitters in such an environment, is, in my opinion, kind of like poison. It freaks your brain out. It puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your brain. And when you have a serious mental illness, your brain does not do well with stress.

So I avoid Walmarts whenever possible. The other thing I avoid is shopping malls. For the same reasons listed above. Advice to you? Do not go to the mall for anything, ever. Everything they sell there is overpriced anyway, so that in itself is a good reason NOT to go to a mall. That is what keeps me away from the mall. But the other thing that keeps me away is German. Yeah, when I'm delusional, such as, when I walk through a mall, I hear people speaking to me and about me in English, Spanish, and at my worst points, in German. I don't speak German, but if you have read some of my past blog entries you may understand that this is part of my delusional world where I am a Jewish person headed for a concentration camp. So I hear German. And that is what I think of now, whenever I think of the mall. I think of the people in various languages telling me to "Die" and I think, "Nope. No mall for me today." STAY AWAY FROM THE MALLS. That is my advice to you if you have Schizophrenia. Even if you are on medication. I have been medicated for years, and these problems still happen to me.

So, if I can't do Walmart, and I can't go to a mall (or an airport), you might be thinking, now, "WHY IN THE HELL WOULD YOU GO TO DISNEYWORLD?" And you would be wise to ask me that question. Why would I? Denial, basically. I like to go into this mode where I think, "I'm better now! I can do stuff that everyone else can do. No problem!" And, as you may have guessed, this attitude generally leads to a disaster.

Let me tell you, when you're having hallucinations, especially auditory ones, you don't want to be surrounded by thousands and thousands of people in one giant mob. You also don't want to be on some boat ride watching various mechanical people and animals singing and screaming and dancing and making you completely overwhelmed. You don't want to be walking for five or six hours straight, either, because that will wear you out and add to your overall misery and fatigue. And you don't want to miss the time when you take your medication at night and stay up, out, in Disneyworld, until 1:30 AM. But this, stupidly enough, is what I did the other day. Because my mom asked me to go, so I went. I will not do this again. Just wanted to state that and explain why. Perhaps you will understand.

There are things doctors, therapists, and social workers never tell you. One of those things is, "Don't go to a mall if you have Schizophrenia." Another one is, "Avoid Disneyworld at all costs." These are things I learned on my own, through experience.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jen, I hope you fare better for tonight and Christmas with your family. I remember going to an amusement park with a friendly acquaintance and her two children when I was still quite psychotic and it was no fun. The children were two young boys, both of whom we believed had been sexually abused by their grandparents on the father's side. I went on a boat ride with the older boy and he took control of the boat. It was a humiliating experience to be manipulated by such a little boy.

    I'm not a fan of Walmart, but unfortunately, there are very few places to shop where I live and so I go there every couple of weeks or so. I remember hallucinating there too where everyone's faces were distorted and frightening to me. I got out of the store quickly. Since then I've been mostly okay, but I don't tend to spend a long time in the store if I can help it.

    Anyway, try to enjoy Christmas with your family, but safely away from the crowds,



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