Boyfriend in a coma
If Only I Knew Then What I Know Now
all started out with some harmless experimentation with drugs. Paul,
a bright twenty-eight year old second year law student at the University
of Hull, England, was not the only one of his group living it up.
They all did the same thing, only Pauls hangover lasted a
lot longer than a day. Weeks after having taken two tabs of LSD
he went into a drug induced psychosis that lasted for five years.
To say that it changed the course of his life is an understatement. He
was unable to continue studying, unable to work and worse, in debt to
his father to the tune of $38,000.
Paul, a Vancouver native, packed his bags in 1998 and headed off for England
to start his first year at law school. Things were going very well, he
made new friends, got good grades and adjusted quickly to his new surroundings.
Over a period of 6 months he tried LSD about ten times. What he didnt
know was that he had a hyper-sensitive system that would not allow the
drug to pass through him the way it did other people.
One evening, after not having taken the drug for several weeks, he suddenly
had a vision of light reflecting off the walls in a strange way. Although
he wasnt high at the time, he began to feel like he was. He stayed
up all night, and in the morning he describes the sensation of Waking
up into a dream. He says "The music was leading me somewhere
and I felt guided by a spiritual love. Colours were in harmony with my
thoughts: red led to love, yellow was a happy colour. It felt positive
He put on some Elvis gospel music and tried to calm down. He thought that
it would soon pass. But weeks went by and nothing changed. He began missing
school and his friends said he was acting weird. He locked himself in
his room and stopped socialising. The warden of his apartment became worried
and took him to the hospital.
Paul told the doctor he thought his ex-girlfriend was Madonna, and she
was trying to contact him. The symptoms appeared to the doctor to be the
same as schizophrenia, although Paul has no family history of the disease,
and he was treated as if he had a chemical imbalance.
He was kept in the hospital for three weeks, over Christmas, and was told
he would be on medication permanently. Paul had no other choice but to
call his parents and tell them the truth. Despite their initial shock
they were supportive, much to his relief. They sent his older sister over
to bring him back to Canada.
He came home saddened, but still in a fantasy world. The doctors changed
his medication to Olanzapine, an anti-psychotic drug. He remained at the
In-Patient Unit clinic in Burnaby for two weeks. He started to feel better
and through willpower he put the dreams aside and ignored the delusions.
Paul returned to England and began classes again. He decided to stop taking
his medication. "I didnt believe I was mentally ill. I was
100% convinced that love was guiding me." But he slipped back into
the delusions and began missing class again. He walked into his final
exams High as a kite, and not giving a shit". He left halfway
through, having not written a thing.
He returned to Vancouver again, and moved back in with his parents. He
went back on medication, got medical disability, and the Federal Government
forgave his $13,000 loan. Eventually he got a one bedroom apartment, and
spent most of the next five years sleeping a lot, going for long walks,
and watching TV. He says the TV sent him messages.
His mother states, "Although he was living in a state of blissful
oblivion, we were living in hell. It was frustrating not being able to
help, not having answers".
One day, about eight months ago, he was sitting alone at his parents
house when suddenly The fog lifted and went away. He says,
"The colours broke down. I thought This is ridiculous. There
is no spiritual love guiding me. I felt a great sadness, as I had
believed I was to meet a soul mate."
He was finally able to start rebuilding his life. He has given up on his
dreams of becoming a lawyer. "I feel very sad about this loss, like
there is a hole in my stomach, and part of me is missing". But he
fills this void with the thought of finding full time work and saving
money to buy a condo.
He would like to turn this experience round positively and has applied
for work with the Mental Patients Association. The job would require
him to act as an advocate to the patients, offer counselling, help them
find work, better living standards and, as he puts it, "Work, as
a lawyer would, for individuals who need the help most."
© Jenny Brown November 2002
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