I Couldn’t Recognize My Parents! 22 Year Old Shares Her Near-death Experience With Schizophrenia
Friday, 29th January - How would you feel if your grown up daughter or son woke up one day and asked you who you are? And it’s not like they are under the influence of drugs or anything: they genuinely can’t recognize you. That’s what Treasa Mbeki's parents had to deal with when their daughter lost her memory to a mental disorder known as Schizophrenia.
Their once bubbly daughter had become a new person altogether. She was living in her own world of hallucinations, extreme fear and rage that left her parents in tears. Mbeka vividly remembers moving up and down searching for things she couldn’t explain, feeling scared and even neglecting her personal hygiene.
Although she can’t recall all the nitty-gritties of that very dark time in her life, she shares the bits she can remember.
Mbeka could not sleep
When Eduard from Paulo Coelho’s Veronica Decides to Die , is denied the chance to pursue his passion of being a painter by his parents, who wanted him to be a diplomat, he becomes Schizophrenic. Just like Eduard, there is a start to every Schizophrenia story.
For 22 year-old Mbeka, it all started when she saw her ailing grandfather in Kisumu. When she returned to Nairobi, she started losing touch with reality. Mbeka’s brother was the first to notice that something was amiss when her sister barely slept for three consecutive days.
“I would seclude myself and when everyone was upstairs, I would find myself alone downstairs. I was just thinking of things that don't make sense. I was confused and felt like I wasn’t living in reality,’’ Mbeka reveals
It wasn’t until her dad called her from Kisumu that they realised something was really wrong with their daughter. When the father asked how she was doing, Mbeka who was with her mum and brother, responded by saying that Kisumu was really good to the shock of her dad and mother who were listening to the conversation.
Mbeka, who could not respond to the sleeping pills prescribed in a local clinic, would later be taken to Karen Hospital for psychiatric help.
“I was very uncomfortable around men. When two male doctors came to check on me, I was freaking out and I ran away screaming. They tried to hold me to control me but then I got so angry and broke their laptop. I was screaming for help and didn’t know I was in the hospital. It was so confusing for me,” she tells this journalist.
When she didn’t get any better, Mbeka was transferred to Chiromo Hospital. This would be her home for two weeks and she would later be diagnosed with Catatonic Schizophrenia.
“I was so lost, I couldn’t recognize my parents, I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t eat or do anything. I was just there in a zoned out moment and I kept on repeating the same things over and over. Nobody could understand what I was saying. I was like a child trying to talk but no one could comprehend,” she recalls.
She doesn’t even remember seeing her friends and relatives who came to see her in Chiromo Hospital, she was living out of reality at the time.
“I was just having bad hallucinations. I was replaying all the bad things that have ever happened in my life. It was like I was living in a nightmare and it was so terrible,” she adds.
Even when her own father drove all the way from Kisumu to see her, she could not recognize him. She even asked who he was and it broke him to pieces.
“It literally broke his heart. That was the first time I have seen my dad cry. It was really heavy for him and my mum as well,” she recounts.
I thought I would die - Mbeka
Visit to psychiatrist at Karen Hospital
In the life that Mbeka was living, the hallucinations were so bad that she thought she was dying. She lived in constant fear of people and nothing good was happening.
“It was like everything was falling down. Sometimes I would feel like I am dying and other times I would feel like it’s judgment day with dragons,” she tells this writer.
She remembers being so scared and overwhelmed when they held a family gathering at their home that she began crying. After returning from the hospital, Treasa had to sleep with her mom due to fear.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
After undergoing five Electroconvulsive Therapy sessions at Chiromo Hospital, things started falling back to place. Close to one year down the line, Treasa’s recovery journey has been a success. She has since gone back to USIU where she is pursuing a degree in International Business Administration. She is, however, still under medication.