God of the Schizophrenic

Rediscovering my faith amid the ravages of mental illness.
God of the Schizophrenic
Image: Mark Peterman

I used my cane to hit the handicapped door opener. My hands shook and shadows danced on the wall. In the back of my mind, I saw train tracks. My head lay on the rail. A whistle blew, and I closed my eyes. It blew again and again. My eyes were shut tight. I was anxious and scared. Do suicides go to heaven?

I signed my name on a white paper. No one could make it out, but they knew my face.

"David Weiss."

"Yes," I stammered.

"Doctor Stanley will be with you shortly."

I sat in a comfortable leather chair. I thought of the life I could have lived. The life I lost.

A small, balding man in penny loafers came to greet me. He wore a Harris Tweed jacket with no tie—a failed attempt to set his patients at ease.

I slowly followed him down the expensive carpet to a large room. His office was themed after the African savanna, complete with giraffe sculptures and exotic plants. In the corner sat a large hardwood desk. The lights were low. I sat in an Italian recliner and waited.

"Well, David, how do you feel?"

It took me a moment to collect my thoughts. "I still see shadows everywhere. They seem to watch me. Whenever I close my eyes I see myself without a head. Sometimes it feels like invisible knives are swirling around me. The medicine is making it hard for me to walk, and often I feel like I am falling when I am just standing still. The suicidal thoughts are getting better. Just ideas, no actual plans."

Dr. Stanley nodded and scribbled something on my chart.

"I see. I think you are doing better than the last time we met. How are you spending your time?"

"I sleep most of the time. When I'm awake I play my Xbox. Sometimes I read and listen ...

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