Hi folks. I think it’s time I share something with you all. This is in the wake of a number of my fellow friends and musicians being honest about their lives and struggles.
I am living and having been coping for years with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.
As a child and teen, I was deemed healthy and was a very successful student, among other things, graduating near the very top of my high school class, receiving the highest ACT score in the state and attending a prestigious university.
Something began to go wrong during my college years– possibly triggered by the use of marijuana and LSD. Or, it may have just been a part of my genes, triggered by my age.
In 1995, I received the diagnosis.
My early years with schizophrenia were quite difficult. I lost nearly everything I had. I felt thay my life would never be normal again. My status dropped in every way. My family provided me shelter for some years, but there were also many years when I lived alone, with little money, on a government check and food stamps. I was quite isolated, shunning social interaction, spending most of my waking hours engaged in my own particular forms of creativity (notably my main and eventually very successful musical act, “Mystified”). I got a lot of joy and fulfillment from writing music, even though times were hard in other ways.
Through my years of isolation, I kept my diagnosis private. When I met the woman who would later become my wife, I shared my condition with her. I did this at an early point in our relationship. She was accepting and supportive from the very beginning. I am grateful to have found someone special like her.
Typically, paranoid schizophrenia is regarded as “degenerative”– i.e. it just gets worse with time. But with the proper medication, treatment and support, I have seen a slow but steady improvement. Now that I am 46, I am happy, happily married and steadily employed. My main and only major symptom, that of hearing voices, is kept in check with the love of others and a single pill I take every evening in small dosage.
I would like to clarify that, in spite of my condition, I have a high i.q. and am capable of clear logic and deductive thinking. I have strong spiritual beliefs, and they are not strange– rather they constitute Protestant Christianity. I am capable of giving and receiving love, and do so every day. Though I have a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, I now realize that my illness does not define me.
To give some examples of famous schizophrenics, John Nash, Syd Barrett (of Pink Floyd), and Jack Kerouac all lived with the diagnosis and achieved great things.
I wanted you all to know this, as I feel that keeping such issues quiet is not fully honest. I also want folks to see that conditions like this can be dealt with, and people who struggle, though they have their struggles, really can live full, happy, creative lives full of joy and value.
I believe there are those who may have guessed (or already knew) of my diagnosis. This may only confirm what they had suspected. Others may be surprised.
This goes to you all, as I believe in love and in the truth, to my fellow courageous artists who suffer too and who have revealed the truth, and especially to my family and wonderful wife who have helped me get to this point.
And here is to continued growth and improvement, towards the best, healthiest and happiest life I can achieve, with God’s grace.
If anyone has any questions, I am open to engaging in dialogue about the subject. Feel free to ask.