'Lead up' to Diagnosis
Moscow 1991. Schizophrenia took its strongest grip on me just after I had visited the USSR in August 1991. During my visit I took part in the marching on the streets of Moscow against communist hard-liners who attempted a coup against the then Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev. During my stay in Moscow, I began to feel very stressed because of the political unrest and uncertainty. I marched with the people not because of any political beliefs but because of the vast importance and history of the occasion.
I can clearly remember the moment paranoia took its grip on me. One night after I had marched on the streets I was awoken by a phone call in my hotel room. To my surprise there was a man on the other end, shouting and swearing at me in Russian. I immediately put the phone down and quickly felt concerned and my heart began to beat heavily. Within a few minutes I found myself feeling very anxious about being in Moscow alone and began to regret my involvement with the marching.
When I returned to London I started to feel unwell with worry. I felt quite panicked about the situation I had just returned from and became concerned about possible persecution from the KGB for being a 'foreigner' involving myself in business that was not of my concern.
As I look back now, my fear of the KGB was enhanced by the negativity planted in my mind by ‘Home Beliefs’ about the USSR and KGB tactics.
The worry of the phone call in Moscow and fear of the KGB began to take a hold on my life. As I write these words, I can recall my paranoia and fear building up on a daily basis. I felt watched. As I walked to my work, I would notice glances from people and pick up on odd words of passing conversation that linked to my persecution.
Once I can recall a guy stepping out in front of me. To me, he blatantly obstructed my path and I feared him and convinced myself that it was the beginning of persecution from the secret services.
I began to fear everyone and even feared telling people how I felt, because that would involve them with my persecution and put their lives at risk too. People on the street that looked at me became spies in my mind. I did not know what to do. I felt that no one would believe me and whom could I approach anyway?
Stress and paranoia began to take its toll. I quickly became confused with my thinking and obsessed that I was being followed and that my life was in danger. Once I got back to my flat from work, I would sometimes huddle in the corner of the room in fear. Very soon I was unable to cope with my work and life deteriorated very quickly.
As the weeks passed and pressure took its toll, I had to leave my work. I became contained within my flat. Depression, anxiety and paranoia were now ‘quickly and devastatingly’ beginning to ruin my life and a deep routed condition was setting in.
I started to believe, because I had 'psychic beliefs' and heard of remote viewing, that my experiences, the anxiety, the paranoia, were part of the KGB's attempt to harm me with telekinetic/psychic powers and punish me for my involvement with the marching.
I became very concerned that 'they' knew, I knew about 'them' and what they were trying to do to me, so began to fear for my life because i had recognised the advanced uses of 'remote viewing' to destroy and control. I became convinced that all my anxiety and fears were the secret service driving me to suicide, so I would not 'spill the beans' of their 'secret and powerful' activities over me and others in society.
During this time, I had my first and worst psychotic experience. As I lay on my bed trying to relax, I suddenly and instantly found myself in complete darkness. I had the experience of being physically vortexed into my own dark mind. I cannot truly explain what went on but the experience terrified me. I screamed to be let out and as I screamed I found myself back on my bed with a strange sensation around my head. It was as though I was sucked into my own dark mind away from any life or reality.
It was this type of experience which finally convinced me to have the guts to approach a doctor. And thankfully I did and was immediately signed off from work and assigned for assessment with a psychiatrist in White City.
At this point in my life, I can strongly remember questioning my irrational thinking. I would sit down on my bed repeating to myself, for hours over and over, my thinking was unreal and stupid. But as everyone who has experienced paranoia will know, the delusion can sometimes be as strong as the reality and so leaves the sufferer confused and stuck in the middle of the two, not knowing which way to turn or what to truly believe.
I decided to leave London and move to Devon where I thought it would be harder for the security services to find me. My brother found me a suitable flat on the edge of Exmoor. It was away from anywhere and I found it a perfect place to hide away and try and cope with life.
When I think back now, I would say that I was also hiding my state of mind away from the public and friends, as I was, at that time, ashamed of my mental weakness. It took me many years to understand that it was, in fact, a strength to admit my weakness and seek help and more of a weakness to hide away from it!