We all have to find a purpose to exist. Some choose family. Some choose love. Some choose their careers. That’s all fine, but thinking deeper into the meaning of life we have to find something within ourselves that gives us a purpose to be here. I call it a telescope. You can use it to see far off into the distance to see what is coming. You use it to prepare yourself for battle. Pirates called telescopes the “bring-em-closer” because they were ready to fight. It will be your most valued tool in your backpack.

I used to say that music was my telescope. I thought it was going to be the thing that took me far into the world, would allow me to help my family, and help those around me. I wanted to be a bass player in a Christian rock band. I used to think that it was my tool to see far off into the distance. I thought I could use it to help people and do greater good. I once wrote:

“Now, I venture into the real world, [the depth] unknown by any man or woman. A world that is harsh and unforgiving, but full off life and giving. If it is pursued in the right way, God can bestow blessing upon blessing in our lives as we sprint toward our destination: heaven. My heart for music grew, swelled as my imagination shrunk and withered away. I found that the only place I could lose myself in the imaginations of life was through music. I could show my mother the music I could play and with that I could summon her proud, astonished face. Now, I venture into this world with a telescope seeking my place, my rock on which I can dwell on so that I can peer out into the vast openness of this lovely earth and know that I am here to stay, and here is where I belong. I venture into this world through music, it as a tool, as my telescope, so I can find my place to be. Although I might have struggles, ups and downs, I will know as I peek through the glass, where I am headed and where I will be in the times to come.”

I found this piece of writing deep in a folder buried on a hard drive that I had sitting in storage. I wrote it for a class that I was taking in college called Freshman Year Intercourse. I was to reflect on my past and conclude on my future. During the revving up of my illness after I dropped out of school, along with the dark path that I was on, I lost my telescope. In fact, it wasn’t a very good telescope at all. You have to find one that fits you and to do that you have to look at your circumstances. I chose wisdom because I want to learn all that I can and be firm in what I know. I want take what I know and grab others and bring them to their feet… no matter how many times it takes. I know the struggle because I myself struggle.

After long trial and error I was finally diagnosed with schizoaffective, a psychotic disorder. It has been a long journey from the first day till now but I have no regret. I love my family very much because they not only have picked me up from a fall, but they have carried me on a stretcher, taking turns carrying me over their shoulders, and finally helping me walk after being in a coma for so long. They have helped me in ways that I can only explain like this: overwhelming gratitude, the feeling of your stomach dropping into a hole, and tears preparing for battle.
Psychosis (being within the depths of it) is a lost battle, but you can learn from each episode to prevent another one. I have not found that each of my psychotic episodes to be the same and that is the hard part, but the feeling is the same. The hard part is recognizing it before it is about to happen but that is the key to fighting it.

The last episode that I had was actually medicine induced. I was prescribed Latuda and it sent me over the edge, but I knew the episode was coming from all the experiences of previous episodes. I was up all night (that didn’t help but I couldn’t sleep) and I was typing up a story. Morning came and went and by noon I was typing about a doctor visit that was apparently skewed in my mind (after reading it when I got out of the hospital), and by the end of the third page I was typing what I was hearing in my head. I remember typing at the speed of sound to keep up with the obscene argument between the three people yelling at each other.

When my girlfriend called, as she always does on her way home, I told her that I needed to go to the hospital. I was at the cusp of my psychosis, if not already there. By the time she got home I was far-fetched and out of my mind. Before she could get everything gathered up for the hospital I was in the iguana cage singing and yelling at the top of my lungs. When the paramedics got there they asked, “What’s it going to take to get you out of there?”

I replied kindly, “A piece of pie.”

What I’m getting to is that I recognized it while or just before it got really bad. I told my girlfriend and she was prompted to take me to the hospital. Sadly I was too out of it to get in the car, but she still took proper action and called 911.

What I have to look for when I am about to enter a world that is unknown to all of us is thought processes and mood. After all psychosis is the impairment of thoughts and emotions.

First, I check my mood. What kind of mood am I in? Am I too elevated in anything: anger, sadness, happiness? If I am too elevated for no reason then there is my first warning sign. I then talk to myself out loud. Self-talk helps me get through a lot. When I am having too strong of feelings it is comforting to have a voice who knows me very, very well and gets me through things. Second, I analyze what is going on in my head with the self-talk. I analyze the thoughts in my head. Are they rational? Is everyone telling me likewise or are they telling me different? If they are telling me different then it’s probably the truth. Especially if they are loved ones!

This knowledge has developed and I am able to do it faster and slow my brain down quicker than even just three months ago. This is an invaluable tool, my spyglass, my knowledge of my illness, my recognition of my symptoms. I use it to peer into the distance and find what is coming and stop it before it gets here. I’m not saying it is perfect, nothing is, but it is a good philosophy to live by. You have to find your own philosophy. Find what works for you. Forge your own spyglass. Make your own routine to calm your brain. Sometimes it will slip and your gears will grind but it’s not over.

Now I sit here writing to you and I want to tell you that it’s not over, it’s never over. Over the years I have come to realize that we aren’t really out wondering the world looking for a rock to perch on and sit to observe what is going on near and far. We are climbing a mountain, Mount Olympus, or one even greater named Life rather.

We all take it day by day, and through that I can only say it’s the only way to get to the top of the mountain. Climbing Mount Life is what we are all doing and it’s a daunting task for even the healthiest of people. And with that said, we must fight hard, I mean HARD, to get up every day and place one foot in front of the other. There might be set backs, hold ups, and falls, but never give up. Like I say, the view from the top is beyond wonderful… so I’ve heard.

You must find your telescope, and if you can’t find one then you must forge one. Even though I say we aren’t out looking for a rock to dwell on you’re sure going to want a telescope to see far off into the distance, to the horizon and beyond if your telescope permits it, atop the mountain. At the top of Mount Life we can see beyond the stars with our telescopes. We can see over the horizon. And thankfully, up there, there are no demons to battle off. There are no monsters trying to pull you down. So, as I was saying, what is your purpose? Where is your telescope? Are you destined to see the view from the top of Mount Life? If not, make it your destiny.

About Joshua Kujawa