Adolescent Schizophrenia

When I was 14 or 15 I used to hear voices. It was during a very stressful time in my life, when I had just moved from San Francisco to New York City. I was unhappy where I lived with my mom (in Brooklyn’s DUMBO, way before the current revitalization), and I longed to move in with my dad, step-mom, and half-brother.

The voices spoke to me during especially stress-filled parts of my day, but were not directly caused by the specific situation I was in. They did not manifest themselves as direct responses to a situation, but, instead, seemed to happen more frequently when I was unsure of something. If I was at my dad’s and I was about to go back to my mom’s house, the day would be filled with voices.

The voices never actually said anything, as much as they suggested things to me. They were soft and soothing… but garbled. They had the quality of some sort of alien child that knew me quite well, but hadn’t yet mastered the art of communication. Regardless, when they spoke I seemed to get the gist of what was said, and since they often came at some sort of crossroads, when I was deciding which course of action to take, they seemed to almost guide me in a certain direction. They worried me enough for me to mention them to my mother, but they didn’t become dominant enough for me to ever get really scared.

Soon, I moved to my dad’s — first temporarily, then permanently — and I began seeing a therapist. Because of these changes (or maybe not?) the voices soon disappeared and I never heard them again. They remain only as a fleeting memory or sensation, like the remnant of a dream.


About joshcomix
Brooklyn-based cartoonist specializing in nonfiction comics about topics like Hurricane Katrina, the media, travel, and finance.

10 Responses to Adolescent Schizophrenia

  1. They remain only as a fleeting memory or sensation, like the remnant of a dream.
    That’s beautifully stated. I think children have coping mechanisms that ould sent adults screaming into a psych ward. And I think that’s OK. Who’s to say children don’t have more insight or access, to certain information than adults – even mini-adults – have. Perhaps your child-mind was haunted by voices and anxiety, and your adult-mind is replaced with waht is considered to be a more “normal” buzz.
    So again, as above – beautifully stated.

    • 4_eyez says:

      Coping mechanism
      You win the prize for unwittingly using the term that is the title of my next book! Part of what I hope to use this forum for is to test out themes and vignettes for Coping Mechanism. (A big tip of the ol’ Giants cap to Nick Bertozzi for orignally suggesting the title.)
      I appreciate your insight into child and adult ways of handling stress.

      • Re: Coping mechanism
        ho, cool!
        i’m honored…and perhaps, psychic!
        looking forward to reading it when it’s done being born.

      • judithogany says:

        PARTICIPATION AND FURTHER INFORMATION If you intend to participate, present a paper or poster, propose a tutorial or workshop, or suggest a panel, please send us a preliminary title for your contribution together with your name, affiliation, email address, and fax number.

  2. benchilada says:

    Mine appeared in college, although it was terribly vague. It was always my name, being called down dorm hallways, or while walking alone at night. Never anything more than my name, over and over. Every so often I have that “Did somebody just say my name?” feeling that everybody gets from time to time and it terrifies me for a moment that the voice is back.

    • 4_eyez says:

      Nearby voices, nearby brains
      I must say it’s comforting to know i wasn’t the only “normal” person to go through a phase like that. Even though I’ve turned out to be a (relatively) well-adjusted fellow, like you I’ve always had a sneaking apprehension that the voices would come back. And I don’t like to think about what that would mean.
      Weirdly enough, I don’t have negative feeling about the voices – it’s not like they told me to shoot my schoolmates (inappropriate topical comment) or jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. All the same, I never missed them and never hoped they’d come back.

      • benchilada says:

        Re: Nearby voices, nearby brains
        Yeah, my voices were always sorta siren-like, always coming from areas out of sight, around corners, down hallways, et cetera.
        But hey, I can scarcely be called one of the normal people. Yes, I’m well-adjusted, but without medication I’d be…not so much.
        Tourette’s Synrome
        Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
        Manic Depression
        Mild AD/HD
        and the latest act to join this circus…
        Previously Undiagnosed Pretty-Damn-Mild Autism.
        I am where neurological disorders go to die.

      • 4_eyez says:

        Re: Nearby voices, nearby brains
        Wow! Impressive list! I didn’t mean anything perjorative by “normal” – i guess I meant anyone not committed or unable to function. ‘Course, after the way I played hoops this evening, I am/was exhibiting Tourette’s, depression, and compulsive bad ball-handling. (Sorry, don’t wanna seem glib.)
        Actually, my mother has recently maintained that both she and I suffer from some sort of mild autism as well. From what little I know of the condition, I can definitely believe it!

      • benchilada says:

        Re: Nearby voices, nearby brains
        Please, be as glib as you want. It’s the only way I cope with being the bundle of FuckedUpFuckedUp that I am.
        Yeah, I recently learned from my mother that she long suspected autism in my family. Apparently one of my brothers — who now shows many signs of autism (none of them interrupting his life) such as social difficulty, a hard time showing emotions, a weird hyper-logical tendency — used to prefer to watch the record player as a child instead of play with toys, and used to like to sit and listen to the vacuum. All of these are CLASSIC autistic symptoms. And I learned a few weeks ago that I didn’t speak until I was THREE, and that helps explain why I can stare into a washing machine for ages.
        To paraphrase Harlan Ellison,
        “My DNA has no mouth, and it must scream.”

  3. Anonymous says:

    my brother
    My dad had schizophrenia and died 3 years ago. Ever since then, my brother has not been the same. He is an all American guy. He is a star soccer player, wrestler, and boxer. He has everything going for him. He is popular, handsome, and just a great guy. Most of all he loves God! Last week he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It had devastated me! I don’t know how to help him. He feels stupid, embarrassed and ashamed. How do I help him cope with this awful disease. I continue to ask God to heal him, and help me to help him to the best of my ability. I just moved out of the house and my mom is going crazy trying to deal with this and me being gone. She has no support from my step dad, who is in complete denial that my brother has anything wrong with him. I don’t know what to do?? Does anyone have any suggestions? Please let me know. I can’t tell anyone that I know( moms orders), so I thought I would anonymously ask the publics opinion. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!
    —Signed, the helpless sister.

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