B1 Intermediate US 279 Folder Collection
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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?
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.
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I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia | Cecilia McGough | TEDxPSU

279 Folder Collection
tangttt1 published on December 17, 2019
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