Thoughts by Richard Bleil
She was lovely and was very conservative Christian. I don’t know that it would have worked out, and probably should have realized it but, all too often (and as happens far too often in men), my eyes outvoted my brain. Still, it was a very innocent relationship even as we did date, and she was very sweet. And she talked to God.
I don’t mean she talked to God like I do. Yes, I do talk to God, usually just to say thanks for the gifts I have received, my talents, and where I’m at in life. But apparently, God actually speaks to her. Now, to be fair, I’m not going to say that God didn’t actually vocally speak to her. I am not going to tell God what She can or cannot do, and if She wanted to talk to my then-girlfriend, then I hope it was a great conversation. But, let’s be honest, there are other potential explanations that are far more likely. Apparently, she was feeling stuck in her spirituality, and God told her that it’s because she listened to Techno music. And I understand this. Techno music is so bad that it probably was holding her back. So, she threw all of her Techno music away and started listening to acid rock.
Okay, you can ignore all of that opinion about Techno. I don’t really like it myself, but the beauty of life is that everybody has different tastes, and the acid rock comment was a complete fabrication. But the rest of the story is true. An actual voice told her to throw away her techno music. And all joking aside, I really am worried for her mental health. As a society, we tend to joke about schizophrenia, but it’s really no laughing matter. Just a month or two ago, an individual who looked homeless was in the grocery store shopping and arguing with what I assume to be the voices in his head. He often would look at me as he argued, but it was clear I wasn’t the one with whom he was arguing.
Something I’ve never understood about schizophrenia is why the voices always seem to be evil and angry. Why can’t the voices be supportive and loving? “You’re going to die after living along happy life. You can succeed! I know you’ll make it!” I guess the voices in my head are always negative, too. No, I’m not schizophrenic myself, but I know that my doubts are often vocal in my head, and usually sound like my father. But they’re not constant, threatening with evil background noises. Maybe those with good voices are what we call “saints”. Hey, was I dating a saint?
Today, there is a medicinal treatment for schizophrenia, such as lumateperone, but my understanding is that these drugs are only effective for a short term. My understanding is that it is only temporary relief, and one remarkably brave woman suffering from schizophrenia actually went to a studio to record what it sounds like inside of her head every day. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find her name, but I saw her on a talk show where they played a brief (about ten second) clip of the recording. She cringed when they did. You could see her sinking into her world of fear, and I certainly understand why. I only heard a very brief clip, and I never want to hear it again. It was terrifying.
Today, as psychological studies move ever closer to the realm of becoming a “hard” science (that is, a science with experimentally verifiable findings as opposed to anecdotal studies), neuroscientists are studying the brain of those suffering from schizophrenia using MRI. These studies seem to indicate that those suffering from schizophrenia have a smaller total brain volume and enlarged ventricles. Some specific regions of the brain (such as the hippocampal region) are reduced, while others are enlarged (like the globus pallidus). The firing of neurons in the brain of one suffering from schizophrenia are excessively greater when compared to a normal brain.
The final lesson here is that schizophrenia is indeed a disease. It’s not just “those people are crazy”. It’s a true physical deformity, and no more funny than being born with cerebral palsy. I know that I do not look at people arguing to nobody in particular as comical, frightening or even gross. I cannot imagine living with such a condition. Heck, I have a hard enough time living with my normal negative voices. In New York City I would see homeless people walking around and arguing with themselves frequently, and I get it. It must be impossible to hold down a job with a condition like that. My heart goes out to anybody suffering from this debilitating condition.