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I was a schizophrenia sufferer

by Paweł S. Tomaszewski

(Translated from Polish by Author's associate)

I was healed by Love and Faith. By Love and Faith, as well as by the fact that I have never given up and never lost my hope.

At twenty, I - a skillful, ambitious young man on the onset of his life - experienced my own little disaster. During one of my summer holidays, after I had finished the first year of my studies at my hometown Lodz Polytechnics, I suddenly cracked up. My whole immature world got crashed by a wave of sudden relief after a hard exam session, by freedom and youthful enchantment during a student's camp surrounded by fir trees. As a result I began to suffer from visual and auditory hallucinations, insomnia coupled with unbelievably mad sport achievements. All this (and it was still not all) sent me to a nearby mental hospital.

The diagnosis was: schizophrenia.

Farewell to my dreams and idealistic plans to make the world a better place?! The way I let my mother down (my father had been dead for a few years then; he died of leukemia before he reached fifty) was the more devastating that it was just myself on whom the whole family pinned their hopes. I was a better student than my two brothers, my teachers praised me during their meetings with parents. I was a kind, calm, perhaps only a little too shy boy.

However, I didn't give up, despite even the fact that during a painful neuroleptics treatment I got infected with jaundice which additionally increased the suffering of my young and fit body.

I stood up to the challenge that my destiny prepared and after a year's convalescence, still forced to take (a gradually decreased though) dose of medications, I passed my entrance exam to the Faculty of Architecture at Warsaw Polytechnics. Since then my existence in the Warsaw of Gierek's era got closed into the tight frames of the dormitory, studying, medically monitored drug-taking, and the necessity to live a clean life.

I wanted to understand the nature of my illness. Why was it just me who had to suffer that way? Since I was a child, I had had trouble with accepting the reality created by adults. I perceived it as full of hypocrisy, dull, and hopeless. I rebelled against it. I couldn't imagine myself living in such a world: trapped between the work I'd hate, a TV-set and my wife with her head in curl-papers. I craved for something greater, something more beautiful. Education seemed to be my only chance. However, in spite of my broad humanist interests I was sent to a vocational school straight after my father' s death. After three years I was a qualified bricklayer and plasterer, and another three years later I became a construction technician.

After my Warsaw crack-up I began to read the works by professors Kepinski and Dabrowski, which explained a lot of my queries. Still, in no way could I accept the fact of my illness' presumed incurability. The medical board labeled me as a moderately-disabled person, I was exempt from military service and, as a socially useless individual, I was granted the lowest possible pension. All this, however, didn't manage to mute my enthusiasm for studying nor my ambition to escape from the gray crowd.

Guided by the Greek adage "A sound mind in a sound body", I dedicated myself to keeping my body fit. Being the Ram, I have always loved all kinds of physical activity, all kinds of sport. Before my A-level exam, I used to travel the length and breadth of Poland hitchhiking and by bicycle. Then, as a student, I took a diving course and spent each summer holidays actively: in the mountains or in Mazurian Lake District. It was just then that my interest with the oriental philosophy began, hatha-yoga among others.

The Second Crack Up

Being on a student's camp during my third-year winter holidays I quit taking my medicaments and experienced the second crack-up, this time slightly less intense. Alienated from my environment, I was "mysticizing" reality and still shocking everybody with my antics. However, this so-called relapse was mild in its course, which enabled me to continue my studies while being an out-patient of the Nowowiejski Hospital. Unhappy, lonely and rejected by my dormitory mates who would rather live a happy and reckless life, I was granted my second medical leave. I decided to hitchhike to France. I had been passionately learning French for two years thanks to which, having only a few franks on me and no family or some friends support, I could check myself against the new and absolutely strange reality. I experienced many new things at that time which resulted in my long-standing fascination with France: its landscape, culture and language... Thanks to my determination and persistence I finished my studies. My thesis, for which I was granted a reward by the Minister of Culture, was on architectural preservation. However, there was no such thing as my private or social life. I found it difficult to build close, emotional relationships with other people, all the more so as alcohol was for me a forbidden fruit. During summer holidays, often having no more than a few dollars on me, I tramped all over Europe, thumbing my lifts. Each time I was coming back filled with unforgettable memories, with plenty of new acquaintances made, often totally broke and using prolonged visa cards.

Polish authorities of that time frowned at my escapades, but once they took my specific situation into account, they turned a blind eye to them. This way I traveled nearly the whole continent, with its complex linguistic and cultural mosaic. The truths instilled in me at home, school or in church were gradually gaining a new perspective... I was putting off the start of the so-called adult life so I entered the second year of art history studies at Warsaw University.

I was nearly thirty and found it difficult to catch up with my ten-years-younger colleagues. Nevertheless, I was halfway through the assumed four-year period when my aunt sent me an invitation to the States. The exam by a very respectable tutor, which I failed, confirmed my decision to definitely finish my second academic studies.

France was the first place I headed for on my way to the US. I went there to supervise youth camps - the activity I continued in the 80's. Their participants were helping in the renovation of architecture monuments in small lovely towns in the South. Then, for the money I earned, I was able to visit London and go to Bremen from which I started my cross-Atlantic journey on board of a Polish ship. My vision of the word became considerably broadened by a four-month stay in Florida and then two months in New York. The fruits of my six-month sojourn in America was a momentary work for a Polish architect, some tourism, study of my English, and the beginning of my jogging passion I have kept practicing to this very day.

I returned to Poland in 1979. I kept taking "balancing doses" of the prescribed medicaments. My condition was steadily improving, so the spring of the Solidarity was also my own rebirth. I was extremely eager to make myself independent both of the medicaments and financially. In Warsaw I made an attempt to find job in my acquired profession. Unfortunately, certain obstacles of administrative nature (I did not have the status of a permanent resident in Warsaw) disabled my professional career.

Having returned to Lodz I found a lodging in a small room in my mother's flat. I tried to work in film industry as a stage designer. But still, I couldn't cooperate with other people. However, the initiative of restoring a wooden cottage in Polesie to its former glamour, that I took with my friend, proved successful. The memorable summer of 1980 we spent on a strenuous construction work. Subsequently, I was preparing myself to my first marathon ever. Running through forests and fields I caused a pretty large sensation among local people. Fall was less busy a time. I was always doing everything to be equal with normal people. I committed my first, let's call them poetic, compositions reflecting my existential pain. I was jogging regularly, played tennis and swam whenever the occasion arose.

In spring 1981 I heard on the radio that somewhere in Beskid Niski some youngsters were rising from ruin an orthodox church of the Lemkov people. I decided to give them a hand. Again, I started to decrease my daily dose of psychotropic drugs and finally in the summer I quit them completely. I was feeling better and better on those stormy days. The holidays to come were a great adventure, joyful madness concluded with the third crack-up, several arrests, an assault, and my sad land-up in the closed ward of the mental hospital in Lodz.

I couldn't stand outer threat, the effort I put into the reconditioning of the only preserved Lemka croft hidden somewhere in the mountains at the source of the Wisloka river, I couldn't stand the feeling of loneliness and the lack of medicaments... Somewhere down the line there was also a pitiful end of a romantic adventure. For my strange and hostile behavior in a small Beskid town I was picked up by the police without any ID. When the district constable who came to verify my identity told my mother about my mountain wrangle, her hair turned completely gray of worry.

Released and "liberated" at the same time, I didn't feel like coming back home. In the mountains I was becoming one with nature, "received" the signals from our "allies" and disturbed the local people. Finally, retained by WOP border guards I ended up in jail where in a very brutal way they tried to find out who I was and what exactly I was up to. Released, I was put behind bars again in the next town. Having come through many troubles, I finally reached home in a condition which made everybody feel sorry.

The Third Time...

My third hospitalization completed the sorrow I was in at the time. I managed to get over it after a three-month treatment, just at the moment of declaring martial law in Poland. However, it took me a long time to fully recover. My painful convalescence remained in agreement with the events of that time. In the evening, after dinner, I took my medications new American ones then. I was smoking rationed cigarettes and although my suffering was presumably deeper than anybody else's, I didn't lose hope for a while.

In the summer I began my trips to France again. I also came back to my regular jogging. In order to be able to use the local swimming pool whenever I wanted, I made the course for life-guards. Each year in winter I was spending two weeks on ski camps in the mountains. I had to satisfy my humble needs from the pension and a few dollars earned in France. I passed my driving test, conquered my addiction to cigarettes and, taking into account that my French was not perfect, I was learning English. For my whole adult life I had been searching for an ideal woman. Finally, I met a person who met my expectations to a great extent. Unfortunately, this affair, just like a few others, finished in an original way: we broke up just before the wedding. Just like a few others, this affair did not break me down for long.

When Poland started to enjoy a new political detente, I began pondering over the sense of my life again. Everyday when I was shaving I looked at my own face and asked myself the questions: Is it ever going to end? Am I doomed to drug addiction till the end of my life? The doctors were elusive: Perhaps, someday when... If you find any work, a wife... I decided to change the status of my disability in order to be able to take some kind of job. I passed a state application from French. In Warsaw I took part in another marathon. In summer I went several times as a life-guard on camps for children. I began to teach French and make translations from this language.

Helping Himself and Recovery

In 1988 I finished the course of Transcendental Mediation and for the next two years or so I was plunging myself into "alpha state" twice a day for twenty minutes. I had always believed that I would be able to free myself from my drug addiction, so I treated the meditation as a way to reach this goal.

Revolutionary changes in Poland and Europe made me enthusiastic. I got down to reading books on personality development and limitless possibilities of human mind. I used health affirmation techniques. My basic affirmation was: "I, Pawel am safe for I consciously tend the working of my mind."

Thanks to my knowledge of foreign languages I was employed in foreign relations department of the City Council where I was going by car - "maluch" ("tiny" -- Fiat 126p) bought with my aunt's financial support. I kept meditating, taking the prescribed drugs and looking for my place in the world. The City Council did not prove to be one. After a three-month trial period I quit the job.

The "twin towns" agreement signed between Lodz and Lyon enabled a few groups of educated and still young people to go for a six-month practice to France. I became the member of one of the groups.

The trips abroad I had been organizing myself were in most cases big fights to survive by looking for some petty jobs or friends' help. Now the situation was quite different. Just like my colleagues I was granted a scholarship which I could live off on. Together with other participants I attended marketing classes specially organized at the local university. With the dawn of 1992 far from home and everyday hardships, thanks to my perseverance and belief, my systematic meditations and affirmations I finally managed to free myself from the clutches of my pharmacophilia that lasted over 25 years. I felt like a free man, reborn and eager to live.

The empirical part of my practice I did at Oliver's - a Lyon architect. Having made friends with him, I was coming back to Poland several times to get in touch with my business partners in Warsaw, Cracov and Lodz. However, our talks proved futile. Oliver signed his contract in Russia, and I came back to Lodz again.

I began to learn those joys of life which earlier could exist only in my dreams. Suddenly my world exploded with colors. My memory and attention span increased, as did my relations with other people. I also slept better. I could read everything I found interest in without much effort. I took part in multiple marathons and even made a quite successful attempt in mini-triathalon.

The idea which I brought to Lyon - setting up a private company to redecorate derelict Polish manor-houses until the regulation of their legal status - proved nearly unfeasible. With my multiple interests, advanced age (I was already in my late forties) and the lack of specific professional achievements, I found it difficult to find some reasonable job in Lodz. Thus, when the opportunity arose to rent my friend's little fiat in Praga (Warsaw) I went for it immediately.

I was still receiving my pension, but now it was too low to cover even a third of my expenses. Having finished my camp leader course I was employed by one of Warsaw travel agencies as a supervisor over three succeeding teams of a seaside sport camp. I could finally collate pedagogical theory with practice. It brought me many hard moments to endure. Thanks to my knowledge of Paris, the French language, my wide tourist experience, and finally my education in architecture, after doing the course for guides I was able to travel with groups of tourists to France, Greece and London.

However, my inexperience in cooperation with big groups of people, not to mention Polish people abroad, resulted in multiple disillusions, to call it gently. I also experienced a highly instructive, although aborted attempt to become another Amway "millionaire". Teaching French and making translations was my way to somehow make ends meet.

Recovery Continues

Nowadays my condition has been satisfactorily stable. I realize more and more clearly that most probably my past and age won't let me make a career as people usually understand it. And I shouldn't even try indeed! My interests in the depth of human psyche, in personality development, and in a wider perspective in parapsychology and metaphysics make me find further interest in astrology, unconventional medicine, and oriental philosophy... My cosmogram explains multiple aspects of my past. The fact that I know it eases my nerves and makes me think even deeper. When I do, I realize that the things I've experienced, along with the whole therapy of constant activity and not giving up may serve as a perfect example to many people who find my suffering their own and to provide them with a glimmer of hope so needful for successful and complete recovery. A journalist working for a popular women's magazine, interested in my story, wrote down my memories and illustrated them with photographs. An influx of letters and phone calls that I have been getting from the readers enables me, to a certain extent though, to support them in their fights with their own destiny.

When during my another stay abroad somebody broke into my Praga flat, I packed up my traps and returned to Lodz. With this return a totally new chapter was opened in my life. The course of the Self-control of Mind According to the Silva Method which I took and then repeated several times made me able to formulate consciously the objectives of my life. They were threefold: a happy and partner-like relationship with the woman I'd love, an interesting and lucrative job and a comfortable flat of my own.

My meeting with Ela was a reply to the affirmation: I am ready to meet the woman of my dreams. She had also come through many hardships in her life. Our cosmograms (it was the period of my studies over comparative horoscopes) made a perfect match. Till this very day we are a pair of long -standing mends hopefully planning their future together.

A short time after we met, thanks to a happy coincidence of certain family matters I entered into possession of a dream of a flat situated in a silent settlement, just next to the park in which I had been jogging for years. The redecoration required a considerable effort on my part. At that time Ela and me were meeting regularly. Nowadays we follow the common path of spiritual development. When the heiress of the ancient yoga of India visits Lodz we practice our meditations. Singing our mantras we want to enrich our life with this immanent factor of spiritual perfection which absolute love undoubtedly is. Through these practices I realize that there exists the Overwhelming Might which I failed to see for ages and which the world calls God.

I was wandering about through the pathless tracts of the world asking myself Who am I and what am I doing right here? Today I have found the piece of my soul. God is my supporter, I believe in the future of the Universe and I have my goal! I want to help people to discover their inner divine power, which lays sleeping in every human, and being a purpose of each and every activity, it often gets lost in our everyday fight for survival. I tread through the meanders of fate, smiling, and repeating the maxim which came to my mind a few years ago:

I, Paweł am happy right Here and right Now.
Think, Speak, Do
Beauty, Truth, and Kindness
With Faith, Hope and Love at my side.
Contact Paweł.

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