In my opinion, the only way to conquer stage fright is to get up on stage and play. Every time you play another show, it gets better and better.
Telling my loved ones I have schizophrenia was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I agonized over it for months. Looking back at my journal from college, I have found numerous rants I made trying to prepare for this terrifying task.
March 15, 2019
If I ever tell them, I will say: I am schizophrenic. Look it up if you want, and never speak about it to me again. Don’t try to convince me I am not, or to go to a doctor. Don’t look at me or touch me. Don’t suggest I simply need to relax at home because stress has done this to me. It has been more than eight years of these symptoms and you never knew. BUT I DID. Don’t pretend you know more than me about what I need or who I am. Don’t pretend everything is fine. Don’t even talk. Listen, nod, and move on.
May 13, 2019
Mom I have a big problem, I am not okay. Please don’t laugh, please believe me. I get scared because when my ribs were hurting so much I felt like people did not believe me, like dad thought I was making it up or something. I don’t want to disappoint you, please don’t be angry. I have been keeping a secret because I thought I was crazy and didn’t want you to know, and it is against the rules to tell. There is a word for what happens to me and it is called schizophrenia. It’s not multiple personality—people get it confused with that sometimes. It has a terrible stigma. It means that I hear voices and have hallucinations. When they are happening they feel real but now I found that there are people who have it happen to them too. I need help but I don’t want to ruin my future by getting diagnosed. I worry you might think I am just stressed or something but I know that it is more than that and I need you to trust me. I have never felt like you trusted me. Look it up. I have all the positive and negative symptoms and they are getting worse and I can’t hide forever because I am just so, so tired but I can never rest. The voices only slow down when I am busy like when I am writing or reading or something. Or when I am asleep but then I dream, but that is better because at least there is more structure. Don’t tell dad. If you don’t take this seriously it will break me apart. Two of my friends I did not tell about the voices told me to go to counseling because they think I am depressed. Afina notices when things are really bad and tells me I am not acting like myself. It is scary and if you don’t listen you will only confirm what the voices have been telling me all along.
It took Herculean effort to convince myself to tell even my mother. In the end, I had to force myself. I told my mother that I had something very important that I needed to talk to her about, but to give me a few days first.
She gave me a couple of days, and then insisted I tell her. She didn’t react with annoyance or disbelief as I had expected. Instead, she listened and said that it explained so much. That she had known something was wrong, but had never been able to figure out what.
The next hurdle was telling my father.
Post 54 in Socially Unacceptable: The Daily Life of a Queer Schizophrenic Wreck (2022)
This is an autobiographical series about my life, something I have wanted to do for a long time. I intend to add new content daily.
For the whole series, follow this link.