Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Visiting Schizophrenic

I remember seeing a cartoon in The New Yorker where a family saw a tweedy man sitting at their dining room table who described himself as "the visiting professor."

I used to think that was very funny.

But not anymore.

That's because a former colleague of mine who's been diagnosed with "schizo affective disorder" has started frequenting our house. Just like a "visiting professor," he likes to use the phone, hook up to the internet, and work on notes for his "book." One time, he was sitting in a chair working over his notes in a way that reminded me of the old New Yorker cartoon.

Oh, I forgot to mention something. He keeps asking if I'm an alien.

My old colleague, I'll call him Josh, characterizes his condition as "schizo affective disorder" which is a "mild form of schizophrenia." Basically, he believes he's become a medium for the aliens who want to communicate with the earth.

Josh has been in and out of mental hospitals for the last four or five years as the condition has gotten worse.

One time, he was institutionalized after walking naked into the surf off Santa Cruz and trying to part the waters like Moses. More recently, Josh was hospitalized after collapsing into Tourette's-type symptoms while I was driving him to a house where he was staying.

I've always been "friendly" with Josh but have never been one of his close friends. But after years of severe mental illness, he's gradually worn out his welcome with all his close friends in Morehead. As a result, Josh decided to make the RSI house his first option after his most recent stay in a mental hospital.

Let me tell you, one of the things you don't want to have in your home is a "visiting schizophrenic."

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