For 4 months, I traveled the country while Eminem, 50 Cent, and Brad Nowell communicated with me through AM radio stations.
I had a mission, I had a plan, and I had a purpose.
I was supposed to be an artist.
It was halftime during a nationally televised playoff game when I was shocked into a state of psychosis.
I walked out of the lockeroom and went to the sidelines. I could hear fans in the crowd cheering. A surge of joy consumed my heart and my eyes welled up with tears.
A year ago, I was in a treatment center and now, I was in full gear walking on the field to play Football.
I sobbed uncontrollably and stumbled over to the bleachers.
My symptoms increased gradually at first.
I began to notice patterns. Small noises that had a numerical meaning specific to me. I noticed that people were communicating with each other about what I was doing. They would cough, sneeze, or tap their desks, signaling to the others.
Then, I was being followed.
People were outside of my dorm room, observing me.
I would try to mess with them. I’d play music really loud and leave my room to try and confront the group.
By the time I’d get outside, they would be gone.
I was given an appointment with the school psychologist.
He told me that I was experiencing a state of amphetamine psychosis. He discontinued my prescriptions and gave me an anti-psychotic.
I left his office and never went back.
A couple of years ago, I took a job at a psych hospital.
Every few weeks I’d encounter a patient who believed he was Jesus.
One time, a lady told me that she was tasked to create a new world order. She showed me her notebooks: pages upon pages about the need for peace, freedom, and brotherly love.
She claimed to be a messiah and that God had chosen her to lead the world.
I read through her notes.
I could relate to all of it.
I would play CD’s in my car that were wirelessly transmitting live performances from a studio in California.
I knew it was happening because there were subtleties that I would notice: a missed drumbeat here, an extra inflection in the vocal chord there…
The CD’s I had weren’t playing what was on them, they were being performed for me live.
And I knew what I had to do. I had to become a musician and change the world.
I met with the dean of university and our coaching staff. I told them I didn’t need to play Football. I had something more important to do.
I left University and never went back.
While I was working at the hospital, I escorted a psychotic patient to the quiet room. (The quiet room is where we would direct patients who were becoming verbally, or physically, aggressive).
He explained to me that he saw things other people couldn’t see. He was being followed and whenever he drove on the highway, semi trucks would try to divert him from where he was supposed to go.
We talked for an hour. Well, he talked for an hour while I asked questions.
Then, I told him what was happening.
He was experiencing a state of psychosis and the part of his brain that contained his sense of “self” was being inflamed. His brain was receiving massive amounts of stimulation, connecting logic patterns and imaginative impulses in a way that shifted reality, putting him in a manic state of grandiose delusions.
Simply stated: his brain was firing quicker than he could process the information.
I asked him if it felt good…
He said it did.
I loved the rush. The purpose, the destiny, and the meaning. I had been touched by god and everything I experienced was divinely inspired.
The world was unfolding specifically for me.
While I was driving from state to state, I had an entourage. The semi trucks on the highway had been hired by 50 Cent to make sure I made it across state lines safely.
Eventually, I got frustrated. I wanted the entourage to leave me alone.
I veered off an exit to shake them and pulled up to a gas station.
I bought a 12 pack of beer and got back on the highway.
I started tossing beer cans out of the window to give them the impression that I was drinking and driving.
I wanted them to see how upset I was. I wanted them to see so they would back off.
They got the message and gave me my space.
I spent the rest of the evening listening to Lane Stanley, Brad Nowell, and Eminem play jazz music on a local AM station.
I sat in the quiet room and told the kid my story.
I explained all of his symptoms as I shared my own. I told him that everything he was thinking, everything he was feeling, would eventually dissipate.
He probably wouldn’t remember our conversation, but he would remember the feeling. The mania and the delusions…
He would wake up eventually and, for a time, he would actually miss it. He would miss the feeling of purpose, destiny, and drive. But, he would feel better. He would feel grounded.
Eventually, he would look back and try to make sense of it all.
When you’re in a state of psychosis, everything has a meaning. Everything has purpose.
You have a purpose.
What you experience is super real, but its not reality.
You believe that you’re touched by God and that you have a mission. You see signs and patterns and feel all powerful. You feel as if the world is responding to your every action.
But just because you believe something, doesn’t mean it’s true.
It’s difficult for me to apply meaning to things these days.
I can’t rationalize the idea of “God”, and because of that, I’ve spent massive amounts of time attempting to understand astrophysics and quantum mechanics.
I fall asleep watching YouTube lectures from Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Brian Greene.
I research things to try and make sense of reality.
And the more I learn, the more I realize that none of us really know shit.
None of us know “why”.
The best we can do is try to formulate a narrative. To tell a story.
Since the dawn of human consciousness we’ve looked to the stars and wondered…
And recently, we’ve begun to recognize our presence on this planet as a result of a cosmic evolution that began 13.7 billion years ago with the “Big Bang”.
We understand consciousness to be a result of that infinitely expansive burst of energy. That our ability to look up and observe the universe is only possible because that same universe birthed us into existence.
That everything we are, and everything we will be, is a by-product of the collective influence of every man and woman that has ever existed.
That my life is just a creative way for the cosmos to view itself.
And none of us know why it happened, so I don’t apply meaning. I just feel a sense of belonging. A sense of right and wrong, good and bad. I see miracles in every day existence.
Like trees. And air. And internet and science and space and music and skateboards and giraffes(like, for real…how did giraffes happen) and oceans and cars and electricity and every single “Shooting Stars” meme I’ve ever seen.
I feel lucky that I don’t need to apply meaning. I don’t have to make sense of anything. I don’t even have to have a purpose.
I just get to be thankful.