Men's Health

I Lost My Mind, Then Found It Again

The author, a Harvard-trained pediatrician, has endured four mental breakdowns. Each one taught him to think more clearly.

A self-portrait of the author, 1972, Hollywood Hospital, British Columbia.

I couldn’t sleep or eat for several days. Then I started hearing voices. Not gauzy, special-effects voices, but actual, real voices coming from outside my head. It’s the kind of thing that can’t be ignored. When somebody says hello, it’s impolite to not say it back. Hi. Hello. Hello?

So you end up in a conversation with yourself, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like you’re talking to somebody else. Somebody outside yourself.

In the beginning the voices were fairly friendly, but then they became more insistent and critical. Unfortunately, they have a lot of inside information that can and will be used against you. You don’t know you’re mentally ill, so you simply assume that things have changed for everyone. Maybe hearing disembodied voices is just part of the new deal. I remember sitting down next to a friend and saying, “So what are your voices telling you?” He got up and found himself a different

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