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I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia | Cecilia McGough | TEDxPSU

I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia | Cecilia McGough | TEDxPSU


Translator: Sara Palacios
Reviewer: Theresa Ranft Hello, my name is Cecilia McGough. I’m an astronomy and astrophysics major
here at Penn State, and the founder and president of the Penn State
Pulsar Search Collaboratory. In high school, I was lucky enough
to have co-discovered a pulsar through the Pulsar Search Collaboratory. A pulsar is a super dense neutron star that emits dipole
electromagnetic radiation. Basically, think of a star
much, much larger than our sun, blowing away its outer layers,
leaving behind a dense core – that core could be our pulsar. This discovery opened some doors for me, such as helping represent
the United States in the International
Space Olympics in Russia. And also, being a Virginia aerospace
science and technology scholar. I know what you must be thinking: “What a nerd!” “Nerd alert!” Well, for the longest time,
this nerd had a secret. A secret that I was too scared
and too embarrassed to tell anyone. That secret is that I have schizophrenia. But what is schizophrenia? It’s important to think of schizophrenia
as an umbrella-like diagnosis. NAMI shows these different symptoms
as a way you could diagnose schizophrenia, such as delusions and hallucinations
being the hallmark characteristics. But it is very important to know
that a person could have schizophrenia and not have delusions
and not hallucinate. Each person’s story with schizophrenia
is unique to their own. Today I’m going to be talking
about my story with schizophrenia. It has been thought
that I’ve had schizophrenia all my life. But it became very prevalent
in my junior year of high school, and then it just snowballed into college. February of 2014,
my freshman year of college, my life changed when I tried to take my own life
through suicide. “Why?” you ask. Because my life had become
a waking nightmare. The following images have been edited
using Microsoft’s artistic effects because they are just
too triggering for me. At this time, I had started hallucinating. I started seeing, hearing and feeling
things that weren’t there. Everywhere that I went,
I was followed around by a clown that looked very similar
to the Stephen King’s adaptation of “It”. Everywhere that I went, he would be giggling,
taunting me, poking me, and sometimes even biting me. I would also hallucinate spiders, sometimes little spiders. And these are actually
the most obtrusive sometimes because we see
little spiders in real life. So, sometimes this is the only time
I ever have difficulty discerning whether it is
a hallucination or real life. I’m very good at knowing
when I’m hallucinating and I know that it is
a chemical imbalance inside my head. I don’t even give
these hallucinations names. I also hallucinate giant spiders though. One spider, in particular, comes to mind. It was rather large, leathery skin,
black legs and yellow body. No voice ever came out of its mouth.
However, when it moved its legs, the creaking of the legs sounded like
young children laughing. It was very disturbing. But it started becoming unbearable
when I started hallucinating this girl. She looked sort of like
in the movie “The Ring”. The thing with her was she was able
to continue conversations with herself, and would know exactly
what to say and when to say it to chip away at my insecurities. But the worst was, she would also
carry a knife around with her and she would stab me,
sometimes in the face. This made taking tests, quizzes,
and doing homework in general extremely difficult to impossible
when I was in college. Sometimes I wouldn’t even be able
to see the paper in front of my face because I was hallucinating too much. I don’t usually speak so openly
about my hallucinations, because people usually look at me in fear
after I tell them what I see. But the thing is, I’m not much different
than the rest of you. We all see, hear, and feel things
when we are dreaming. I’m just someone who cannot turn off
my nightmares, even when I’m awake. I’ve been hallucinating now obtrusively
for about over four years. So, I have gotten very good at just pretending
I’m not seeing what I’m seeing, or ignoring them. But I have triggers, such as seeing
the color red is very triggering for me. I don’t know if you guys
noticed this or not, but they changed the carpet that I’m on. They changed it
to a black carpet instead of red. I sort of laugh at my life a bit
like a dark comedy, because, of course, the only color combination
that I have issues with is red and white. What are TED’s colors? (Laughter) Really people! But, I have issues with those colors because those are the colors
that the clown has: red hair and white skin. And how I’m able to ignore him
is I just don’t look at him, but I’m able to know where that hallucination is
in my peripheral vision, because of the bright colors
of red and white. But you would never know
that I’m hallucinating. The clown is actually
in the audience today and you would never know. On a lighter note,
who is looking forward to the Oscars? Hands up! I knew you guys would be interested! Well, if there were nominations for people
just acting “normal” in everyday life, people who have schizophrenia
would definitely be nominated as well. When I first became open
about having schizophrenia, it was a shock to even
the people closest to me. It took me eight months, eight months after my suicide attempt to finally get the treatment
that I needed. I didn’t even have
the diagnosis of schizophrenia. And because of that, what kept me from getting help
were conversations like these. I remember very distinctively
within that time on the phone with my mother. I would tell my mum, “Mom I’m sick, I’m seeing things that aren’t there, I need medicine,
I need to talk to a doctor.” Her response? “No, no, no, no. You can’t tell anyone about this. This can’t be on our medical history. Think of your sisters,
think of your sisters’ futures. People are going to think
that you’re crazy, they are going to think you’re dangerous
and you won’t be able to get a job.” What I say to that now is “Don’t let anyone convince you
not to get medical help. It’s not worth it! It is your choice
and it is also your right.” Getting medical help was the best decision
that I have ever made. And I am confident
that I would not be here today if I didn’t get the proper medical help. This led into my first hospitalization. I had been in the psych ward four times
within the past two years. But I still was not open
about having schizophrenia until my second hospitalization,
because the police were involved. One evening I realized I needed
to check myself back into hospital, because I needed some changes
in my medication. So I admitted myself
into the emergency room. I talked to the doctors, they said, “OK, let’s fix the meds,
you can stay here overnight.” It was all good. After the brief one-night hospital stay, I came back to my dorm room
here at Penn State, and to very concerned roommates, which I understand
why they were concerned – if I was in their shoes,
I would have been concerned as well – but also the RA and a CANHELP person. We all talked and we decided
that I needed another psych ward stay. And I was OK on going,
I wasn’t at all refusing, I was willing to go. But what happened next was inexcusable. They brought police officers
into my dorm room, in front of my roommates,
they padded me down and I had to convince them
not to put handcuffs on me. They then brought me,
escorted me into a police car that was parked on the road next to one of our dining
commons: Redifer, where friends were passing by
and seeing me put into a police car. By that time, when I came back,
the cat was out of the bag. People knew something was up,
so I had to set the story straight. I opened up about my schizophrenia through a blog, but I posted
all my blog posts on Facebook. And I was amazed by how much support
there was out there. And I also realized that there are so many
other people just like me. I was actually amazed! A few of my friends opened up to me
that they had schizophrenia. Now I am dedicated to being
a mental health advocate. I’m not going to wallow
in self-pity about my diagnosis. Instead, I want to use it
as a common denominator, so I can help other people
who have schizophrenia. And I’m not going to rest until anyone
who has schizophrenia worldwide is not afraid to say the words: “I have schizophrenia.” Because it’s OK to have schizophrenia, it really is. Because 1.1% of the world’s population
over the age of 18 has some sort of schizophrenia. That is 51 million people worldwide and 2.4 million people
in the United States alone. But there’s a problem. Because one out of ten people
who have schizophrenia take their own life through suicide. Another four out of ten
attempt suicide at least once. I fall into that statistic. You would think that there would
already be a nonprofit focused on empowering college students
who have schizophrenia, especially since the peak age to have
a schizophrenic break is early adulthood – the same age range
as a typical college student. But there isn’t. There is no nonprofit
in the entire United States focused on that. And a general nonprofit
focused on mental health in general is not enough. Because even in the mental
health community, schizophrenia is shied away from, because it makes people
feel “uncomfortable”. That is why I have decided to found the nonprofit
“Students With Schizophrenia”, where we will empower college students
and get them the resources that they need, so they can stay in college
and be successful. Because you could be successful
and also have schizophrenia. We need to change the face
of schizophrenia, because the representation
currently is inaccurate. Don’t let anyone tell you
that you can’t have a mental illness and also not be mentally strong. You are strong, you are brave,
you are a warrior. Unfortunately, this nonprofit
is too late for some. Since I’ve become open
about having schizophrenia I am asked to come
into different classrooms here at Penn State, and talk to the class about my experience
having schizophrenia. One class stands out in particular. Earlier in the semester
one of the students opened up to the class
that she had schizophrenia. I commend her for her bravery. However, by the time that I came
and talked to that class, she had taken her own life
through suicide. We were too late for her. I was too late for her. Here at Penn State, we have to make
an example to the world, because this is not just happening
here at Penn State, it’s happening globally. But here at Penn State, we have to show that we are here for our students, we are talking about mental health, and we are not afraid
to talk about schizophrenia. My name is Cecilia McGough, I have schizophrenia and I am not a monster. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheering)

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Can someone please explain me or point me to a direction that can prove that what you see if being schizophrenic, is not real? I mean, what if the “problematic” people are the normal ones? Imagine that everyone had schizophrenia…what then? How would we define reality?

  2. I'm the monster of myself.. I have Bipolar Disorder, hate pyschosis.. hate stigma.. hate side effects of my pills.. All I want is to be able to control my mind..

  3. The hallucinations of sight are horrendous, but to feel that something touches you, when there is nothing is terribly frightening. You know that there is nothing, that it's all in your head, but you can't help but feel it.

  4. She takes a deep breath at 2:37 and you can hear her voice shaking. I can only imagine how hard speaking publicly about this topic is for her, she is very brave.

  5. You can almost tel where the hallucination is because she is glancing over one part of the audience instead of looking straight at it

  6. I got three bad B's in my head 😳🎈telling me that this isn't real… They get in my dam nerves …😫🎈Ugh.. I even create a channel here on YouTube for one of them… She wants everyone that is reading 📚 this to sub to her and share with your family members and friends.

  7. I also have schizophrenia and I don't hide it, I actually get very few judgments and most people are curious. No, we aren't monsters and many of us have good insight.

    I also see the Ring girl and she stabbed me in the eye once 🤔 that's interesting.

  8. What a beautiful human being. Would be awesome if we could all share a piece of that burden to make her burden lighter. That would be cool.

  9. Why *Students with Schizophrenia*? If you want to help people with this condition, why limit it to students just because you were a student. That makes no sense to me.

  10. "not everyone with schizophrenia has hallucinations and delusions" sureeee coming from someone who is currently delusional.

  11. I am so sorry your mother was so unsupportive. I am glad you found the strength to pull through and am in awe of all you have accomplished. Big hug! 😊

  12. I’ve had some odd connections to her schizophrenia story… how can you tell if you’re crazy?

    She’s very pretty

  13. FAIRFIELD CALIFORNIA! My grandma volunteers to help mentally ill and mostly schizophrenic people they can stay there over night, talk to someone all day, get food. It’s really nice i wish somebody would fund it so my grandma can get paid to do what she loves to help people so this “illness” will be less taboo

  14. I may be schizophrenic too. I think I see clean shaven, teenage Jared Leto giving this talk.

    (Don't get offended guys, just an attempt to lighten the mood)

  15. I've always wanted to understand what schizophrenia was like from someone who experiences it. She is an inspiration to those suffering from Schizophrenia and the stigma yet attached to it.. Bravo.

  16. My mom was schizophrenic, she just killed herself yesterday. I miss you mom. You were the strongest woman in my life, and will always be.

  17. What if they are just tied to the paranormal more than anyone else. We are the blind. They see different dimensions.

  18. "I am not much different from any of you"
    Idk there big dog, I didn't discover a star in high school while fighting off giant spiders and getting stabbed in the face by IT. You're a lot more badass than I am

  19. My dad has schizophrenia. When I was around 3 years old, he started to listen to things and he started to have several paranoias. One of them was that he thought that there were microphones in the lamps of our house, and he didn't allow us to speak loud or even speak. He also thought that my mum had and affair with other man, so he always was threatening her with really scary stuff. He tried to commit suicide twice, but my mum saved him in time both times, even we weren't living with him in that moment. My mum intuited that something wrong was going on, so she went to our old house, where she found him lying in the coach surrounded by pill boxes and vomit on the floor. He was in coma. He survived. He still says rare things, but not so strange as the things he did when I was little. Fortunately, he takes medicine and he is so much way better than years ago. I love him even I never told him, he is a survivor and I'm glad he is okay right now.

  20. Imagine schizophrenia. But it talks to you. It helps you on test. It helps you remember. And have somebody to talk to you. Well my voice said I should die. Sooo. I JUST WANNA DIE DIE DIE. DIE DIE DIEEEEEE ITS MUFFIN TIME I JUST WANNA DIE DIE DIE

  21. So empowering!!! This young lady is amazing!! I am sharing and recommending this everyone I know. So important for the world to understand this information !!

  22. I am bytal!! That is skiksofeenia, so som poople fiil wold somhau diwrend!!! Somhau Tre is Wery mats gyyd??

  23. I do not have Schizophrenia, but I did spend 17 Years under Psychiatric Care (13-30). I was fortunate to receive the intervention which I needed to bring Me to Normality. Whilst I may never consider Myself entirely Normal, neither do I consider Myself Crazy.

  24. worldsmasterofspiritsspiritseekerscana,tm* these people can be very very dangerous do not get close hear when she said [[triggers]] be very careful around her …. sounds more like a demon – have you ever gone to a priest? you should be close-ly watched cause i can see a true problem coming -and no no its not ok to have that… you all need tobe watched because your rather killing others or yourselves be careful people these people kill over and over do not put your children at risk anylonger

  25. This goes to show no matter what the challenges are you can overcome them. She's an amazing person. And she's so smart..

  26. I can't believe the number of comments discussing demonic possession… Welcome to the middle ages, people! Enjoy your stay!

  27. This lady just is just hallucinating things she saw in horror movies, I am the only one who thinks that's a bit cliche

  28. My uncle has schizophrenia, hit him around the same time high school he ran a stop sign and got into. Horrible accident and that’s when it came out. But he’s been in a hospital most of his life. I was under the impression for the longest time that it’s not a condition you can really have a normal life. A job, etc. he’s on loads of meds he eats administer by nurses. Is this condition on spectrums? Or is he just unfortunate that he was diagnosed so many years ago? I’m sure a combination, my aunt feels that he could have had a normal life not hospitalized, but idk. I’ve seen it switch, on Holliday’s when he’s late on his meds you can tell he’s looking through you and laughing to himself. The last time I saw him at Christmas it was the first time I saw him actually interact and play with the kids and be in the moment💖 they must have new meds

  29. She was not hallucinating she is having paranormal experiences but this matrix tell you there is something wrong with you when all it is psychic information coming in

  30. It’s sad to see that she is owning this diagnosis when it has nothing to do with a mental disorder, the symptoms that she is experiencing is psychic in nature and needs a shamanic support. The medications screw up your head and are poisonous

  31. I get Dissociative Identity Disorder and what Psychiatrist said to me is "There's no cure".

    😞 Hope someone with knowledge finds my comment and give a help

  32. I am schizophrenic. I want to be treated but I don't have money rightnow. Constant feeling of people laughing at me is always there it's so worst I can't even explain. I don't even know I am sleeping or not

  33. I have schizophrenia too. Her pattern and style of speech reminded me of my own. It's like she's struggling to condense her thoughts into something organized and coherent.

  34. So, an ex of mine suffered a car accident that caused PTSD and he says he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia… idk he could very likely have been trying to gain more of my sympathy as a usual game he plays. But could PTSD trigger latent symptoms of something youve always had? Or hallucinations are also a symptom of PTSD sooo Idk

  35. The difference between her and others isn´t that she "can't switch off her dreams during the day"…..not everyone has these dreams at night!! This is demonic; I´m not saying she´s possesed but it´s likely, and she´s definitely oppressed. The difference between her and others is that she CAN SEE the demons. They are literally everywhere.

    Demons are in another dimension and they can see us but we (normally) can´t see them. They are creatures of God who rebelled and have already been judged (fallen) and they are PERSONS but without bodies. They are not "energy" but real live persons, with a will, a mind, a personality, basically a soul, just not flesh and bone also. They are behind crazy things like people suiciding, or killing their whole family and then killing themselves. We often hear testimonies "I heard voices" or "they were talking to me…"
    It´s all demonic and there is a way to freedom.
    You can order them to leave in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Read the four gospels of Jesus Christ if you want to understand more. (same goes for people who have been in contact with "guardian angels" and "benevolent" spirits, or "family" members that have passed away in real life….if that´'s you, you´re being deceived. These are demons, imposters. Rebuke them in the name of Jesus and see how friendly they are after that! They HATE the name of Jesus.
    He is the Saviour and His word is true. Get right with God now.

  36. No Coral, he was not a monster. We treat mental illness so differently than physical illnesses because we cannot see the illness. We can only see and hear the results. I’m sorry that your dad suffered so. Sending healing light and love to you and your family. He loved you all very much I am sure. He probably just felt that he couldn’t take it anymore.

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