Growing up I always had this dream of joining the military, The Marine Corps in particular. Many nights I spent laying in bed with dreams of moving up the ranks, serving my country and if worst came to worst I would give my life for my country.
Football played a big roll in this dream. I trained as hard as I could, pushed my body to the limits regardless of how I felt after a game. There were many times I had to be carried to the car just to immediately pass out in the back seat. I remember being so hungry after that I would have pains in my stomach. I also remember not being able to eat because of how exhausted I was. I played on every squad in football: kicking, receiving, special teams, offense and defense. I played every down unless I was forced off the field. I am the reason my towns football league has a rule that players can only play every other down.
I played with complete disregard for my body or the mental pain I went through. I remember it was a ritual for me to puke three times at the beginning of each season. Once on the first practice, once when we started scrimmages and finally when we put on pads.
I grew up idolizing movies like Rambo. I dreamt of being the one they called in when shit hit the fan. I thought I would be perfect for the military, I thought I’d be a star student of war.
Sacrificing my body for a goal was never a problem for me. I’ve learned to push through pain. Compartmentalizing is at the core structor of my mind. Being able to sort out the bullshit helps me focus on my goals. I’m pretty smart too, which I thought would help me be a good leader.
Now the reality of the situation is, they won’t let you serve with Schizophrenia. This was not enough to deter me. I joined a Cadet program which I attended for a while before my illness got the best of me. Sadly I was never able to fully invest myself in the program.
Now here’s where I tell you about a big mistake I made just so I could join. I got talking to a recruiter at my high school. He was the one who informed me that I couldn’t be on medication for a full year and be stable in order to join. Me being young and dumb coupled with the determination to join the Marines,
I went off my medication.
Now as most of you know having Schizophrenia and coming off your meds never ends well. I’m here today to tell you that it didn’t end well. I don’t know how long it took for everything to fall apart, all I know is that it did. I started making bad choices caused by delusions. At first they weren’t strong but over time they intensified. Engulfing me to a point, subsequently I found myself in the hospital on a three week stay.
Honestly something good actually came from it. During my stay I learned that my blood pressure medication was not working. I remember they would take my BP sitting then standing. One time I stood up for them to take my standing BP; I remember them rushing towards me trying to get me to quickly sit down. My blood pressure was outrageously high and I remember a nurse questioning how I was still standing.
I guess things happen for a reason. I gave up my military aspirations. It wasn’t easy for me but eventually I came to terms with it.
At that point in my life I was lost. I was lost for so long that I learned how to operate without direction. A part of me still lives that way. I’ve come to appreciate uncertainty and the benefits that come with it. It’s the grey areas in life that keep me in check. You can call it fear, I call it motivation.
Moral of the story is you never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes if you let it ride and you fail, you learn from your mistake. Don’t be afraid to change, change is just another word for adapting. Something we all must do to survive.