When I Decided I Needed to Stay on Mental Health Medicine
Author: Nelson Morais
Date: Dec. 4, 2015
(It’s impossible to deny the intervention of God in my getting off the streets after being homeless for a total of about six years. In my new ebook, “From Homeless to Heaven,” (available at www.homelesstoheaven.com, or Amazon.com), I recount the specifics of how I agreed on one day in spring of 1999 to stay on mental health medicine which, fortunately, led to the discovery that I was not Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, but rather just Nelson Morais, a regular guy. The great stuff about my getting saved, and my mind healing even more, would soon follow.)
Chapter 25 of “From Homeless to Heaven”
Back to Tennessee
In the spring of 1999, roughly one and one-half years after I left San Diego and returned to living on the streets, I found myself in Boone again, staying at the Hospitality House (a homeless shelter in Boone).
I was broke and bored. Without money, there wasn’t much new for me to experience in the mountain town. Whenever I began to feel that way in an area, I would begin to think there were more adventures in other towns for me to discover. Therefore, in order to break up the monotony, I decided to hitchhike to Johnson City in Tennessee. When leaving Boone, I did not worry much about catching a ride because it seemed people living in rural areas were more likely to offer a hitchhiker a ride. That was not the case with generally uptight and fearful people who live in larger, metropolitan areas.
When I reached Johnson City, I checked into the Haven of Mercy homeless shelter for men. For the next few days, I wandered around the city. I spent time at the public library in town, where I read newspapers and magazines, usually about national politics. I also perused books I found interesting, such as biographies of famous historical figures. At night, I returned to the shelter. I recall that on one visit to the library, my thoughts were so troubled that my preoccupation was with which sofa or couch to sit on, and then how long to stay there before getting up and moving to another seat that “God” wanted me to move to.
One night, after I missed dinner and the check-in time at the shelter, I started going into restaurants in the North Roan Street area, near downtown. I tried maybe three different restaurants, but was unsuccessful in getting food. I next tried a somewhat fancy Italian restaurant, but struck out there, as well. Adding to my woes was that it literally was a dark and stormy night. Winds were picking up, and the sky was quickly filling up with menacing storm clouds.
I was hungry and feared I would not find an alcove in front of, or behind, a business or church to protect me from the rain certain to fall that night. I also realized I would have to bear the cold that night without a blanket or any extra clothing to keep me warm. It was then that a Ford Taurus stopped at the curb beside me, and the passenger side window went down. The driver leaned over and asked me if I needed something to eat, and I said yes. “It’s getting to storming pretty bad,” he said. I agreed.
I found out his name was Frank, and when he asked me where I wanted to eat, I said Burger King. He said he had seen me walk into some restaurants for brief periods of time, and assumed I was asking for food. Frank didn’t say much while I ate my combo meal. I was grateful he respected my privacy. After I ate, Frank, who appeared to be in his 60s and I found out was divorced, was kind enough to allow me to spend the night at his apartment.
Several days after that evening, while on my own and always privately, I developed a unique form of “praying.” It consisted of me balancing myself on my knees and extending my hands to grasp my ankles behind me. When I “prayed” this way, I had a hard time maintaining my balance. With practice, however, I learned to hold the difficult position for close to one minute. I believed that the longer I balanced my body on my knees, the more I pleased “God.” I never uttered any words during my balancing act. I didn’t think I had to, or was supposed to, do that.
I visited the Johnson City Mall one day, and felt compelled to “pray” in a very public fashion. I went to an indoor walkway that connected the shops there and, in full view of many shoppers walking past me in both directions, I “prayed” in my unique fashion. Within a few minutes, a security guard approached me and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was “praying.” He wasn’t convinced. Instead, he decided to escort me out of the mall, always staying very close to my side (in case I decided to run wild, I guess). He extracted a promise from me to never return to the mall.
On another day, I walked past the city limits of Johnson City, saw a hillside, and felt “a calling” to “pray” there. On the hillside, with its grass and brush, it was even more difficult to maintain the desired position on my knees. I was frequently changing locations on the hillside, “praying” for just a few seconds at each spot, when a police car pulled up and the officer asked me what I was doing. Apparently, someone had called the police about a man exhibiting some odd behavior on a hill next to a road. I informed the officer I was “praying,” and gave him an alias. He drove me to the police station where, after about an hour, I relented and gave him my real name. Since there were no warrants out for my arrest, I was released.
I ran into Frank, who had a calm demeanor, a few times at the public library. He said he worked in the mental health field as the manager of a group home, and suggested I take a low dosage of Risperdol, which he had samples of. Remember, I had gone through this process several times when I had been committed to mental institutions. My thoughts improved dramatically when I took the medicine prescribed to me. However, each time after I left a mental institution, I stopped taking medication because I didn’t think I needed it. As a result, I soon returned to my delusional thinking.
This time would be different. I responded very well to the Risperdol, but perhaps more importantly, I accepted the advice of a stranger to keep taking it daily. In less than five weeks, I realized I was not Jesus Christ, but rather Nelson Morais. That “revelation” was more than just a little disconcerting because my importance in the universe fell from the highest point to practically nil. I lost what I thought had been my purpose in life, which was, in essence, to “train up” for the day I would rule the world. I now felt unimportant, insignificant. I felt I had been deceived, but, didn’t blame anyone for that, not even myself. On the plus side, it seemed as though all the pressure I had placed on myself to perform for “God” as his only begotten son — all of those rituals and crazy mind games – gently disappeared.
Frank directed me to a free clinic near downtown Johnson City that catered to a lot of low-income and/or homeless people. I was fortunate to have Judy Rice, a pretty, brunette nurse practitioner in her 30s, see me. She seemed to have a genuine interest in my well-being.
I explained my previous symptoms to her, especially my times at Bethel Colony and elsewhere where I felt compelled to freeze up and stay motionless. She said, “I believe you have a schizoaffective disorder, a mild form of schizophrenia.” The word “schizophrenia” shocked me somewhat; it just sounded so serious and, well, serious. On the other hand, you’ll notice she said mild schizophrenia. I hated to think how I would have acted with full-blown schizophrenia! Still, it was a big relief to hear from Judy that my bizarre behavior had a name to it. Judy also decided I suffered from depression, and put me on a low dosage of Prozac. Thus began about four or five months of trying to find the right dosage of Risperdol and Prozac. During this time, there were days I felt so drugged up that I walked around like a zombie. I would then return to Judy, and she’d try a different dosage. One noticeable side effect of the medicine I took was drowsiness.