I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia | Cecilia McGough | TEDxPSU


Translator: Sara Palacios
Reviewer: Theresa Ranft Hello, my name is Cecilia McGough. I’m an astronomy and astrophysics major
here at Penn State, and the founder and president of the Penn State
Pulsar Search Collaboratory. In high school, I was lucky enough
to have co-discovered a pulsar through the Pulsar Search Collaboratory. A pulsar is a super dense neutron star that emits dipole
electromagnetic radiation. Basically, think of a star
much, much larger than our sun, blowing away its outer layers,
leaving behind a dense core – that core could be our pulsar. This discovery opened some doors for me, such as helping represent
the United States in the International
Space Olympics in Russia. And also, being a Virginia aerospace
science and technology scholar. I know what you must be thinking: “What a nerd!” “Nerd alert!” Well, for the longest time,
this nerd had a secret. A secret that I was too scared
and too embarrassed to tell anyone. That secret is that I have schizophrenia. But what is schizophrenia? It’s important to think of schizophrenia
as an umbrella-like diagnosis. NAMI shows these different symptoms
as a way you could diagnose schizophrenia, such as delusions and hallucinations
being the hallmark characteristics. But it is very important to know
that a person could have schizophrenia and not have delusions
and not hallucinate. Each person’s story with schizophrenia
is unique to their own. Today I’m going to be talking
about my story with schizophrenia. It has been thought
that I’ve had schizophrenia all my life. But it became very prevalent
in my junior year of high school, and then it just snowballed into college. February of 2014,
my freshman year of college, my life changed when I tried to take my own life
through suicide. “Why?” you ask. Because my life had become
a waking nightmare. The following images have been edited
using Microsoft’s artistic effects because they are just
too triggering for me. At this time, I had started hallucinating. I started seeing, hearing and feeling
things that weren’t there. Everywhere that I went,
I was followed around by a clown that looked very similar
to the Stephen King’s adaptation of “It”. Everywhere that I went, he would be giggling,
taunting me, poking me, and sometimes even biting me. I would also hallucinate spiders, sometimes little spiders. And these are actually
the most obtrusive sometimes because we see
little spiders in real life. So, sometimes this is the only time
I ever have difficulty discerning whether it is
a hallucination or real life. I’m very good at knowing
when I’m hallucinating and I know that it is
a chemical imbalance inside my head. I don’t even give
these hallucinations names. I also hallucinate giant spiders though. One spider, in particular, comes to mind. It was rather large, leathery skin,
black legs and yellow body. No voice ever came out of its mouth.
However, when it moved its legs, the creaking of the legs sounded like
young children laughing. It was very disturbing. But it started becoming unbearable
when I started hallucinating this girl. She looked sort of like
in the movie “The Ring”. The thing with her was she was able
to continue conversations with herself, and would know exactly
what to say and when to say it to chip away at my insecurities. But the worst was, she would also
carry a knife around with her and she would stab me,
sometimes in the face. This made taking tests, quizzes,
and doing homework in general extremely difficult to impossible
when I was in college. Sometimes I wouldn’t even be able
to see the paper in front of my face because I was hallucinating too much. I don’t usually speak so openly
about my hallucinations, because people usually look at me in fear
after I tell them what I see. But the thing is, I’m not much different
than the rest of you. We all see, hear, and feel things
when we are dreaming. I’m just someone who cannot turn off
my nightmares, even when I’m awake. I’ve been hallucinating now obtrusively
for about over four years. So, I have gotten very good at just pretending
I’m not seeing what I’m seeing, or ignoring them. But I have triggers, such as seeing
the color red is very triggering for me. I don’t know if you guys
noticed this or not, but they changed the carpet that I’m on. They changed it
to a black carpet instead of red. I sort of laugh at my life a bit
like a dark comedy, because, of course, the only color combination
that I have issues with is red and white. What are TED’s colors? (Laughter) Really people! But, I have issues with those colors because those are the colors
that the clown has: red hair and white skin. And how I’m able to ignore him
is I just don’t look at him, but I’m able to know where that hallucination is
in my peripheral vision, because of the bright colors
of red and white. But you would never know
that I’m hallucinating. The clown is actually
in the audience today and you would never know. On a lighter note,
who is looking forward to the Oscars? Hands up! I knew you guys would be interested! Well, if there were nominations for people
just acting “normal” in everyday life, people who have schizophrenia
would definitely be nominated as well. When I first became open
about having schizophrenia, it was a shock to even
the people closest to me. It took me eight months, eight months after my suicide attempt to finally get the treatment
that I needed. I didn’t even have
the diagnosis of schizophrenia. And because of that, what kept me from getting help
were conversations like these. I remember very distinctively
within that time on the phone with my mother. I would tell my mum, “Mom I’m sick, I’m seeing things that aren’t there, I need medicine,
I need to talk to a doctor.” Her response? “No, no, no, no. You can’t tell anyone about this. This can’t be on our medical history. Think of your sisters,
think of your sisters’ futures. People are going to think
that you’re crazy, they are going to think you’re dangerous
and you won’t be able to get a job.” What I say to that now is “Don’t let anyone convince you
not to get medical help. It’s not worth it! It is your choice
and it is also your right.” Getting medical help was the best decision
that I have ever made. And I am confident
that I would not be here today if I didn’t get the proper medical help. This led into my first hospitalization. I had been in the psych ward four times
within the past two years. But I still was not open
about having schizophrenia until my second hospitalization,
because the police were involved. One evening I realized I needed
to check myself back into hospital, because I needed some changes
in my medication. So I admitted myself
into the emergency room. I talked to the doctors, they said, “OK, let’s fix the meds,
you can stay here overnight.” It was all good. After the brief one-night hospital stay, I came back to my dorm room
here at Penn State, and to very concerned roommates, which I understand
why they were concerned – if I was in their shoes,
I would have been concerned as well – but also the RA and a CANHELP person. We all talked and we decided
that I needed another psych ward stay. And I was OK on going,
I wasn’t at all refusing, I was willing to go. But what happened next was inexcusable. They brought police officers
into my dorm room, in front of my roommates,
they padded me down and I had to convince them
not to put handcuffs on me. They then brought me,
escorted me into a police car that was parked on the road next to one of our dining
commons: Redifer, where friends were passing by
and seeing me put into a police car. By that time, when I came back,
the cat was out of the bag. People knew something was up,
so I had to set the story straight. I opened up about my schizophrenia through a blog, but I posted
all my blog posts on Facebook. And I was amazed by how much support
there was out there. And I also realized that there are so many
other people just like me. I was actually amazed! A few of my friends opened up to me
that they had schizophrenia. Now I am dedicated to being
a mental health advocate. I’m not going to wallow
in self-pity about my diagnosis. Instead, I want to use it
as a common denominator, so I can help other people
who have schizophrenia. And I’m not going to rest until anyone
who has schizophrenia worldwide is not afraid to say the words: “I have schizophrenia.” Because it’s OK to have schizophrenia, it really is. Because 1.1% of the world’s population
over the age of 18 has some sort of schizophrenia. That is 51 million people worldwide and 2.4 million people
in the United States alone. But there’s a problem. Because one out of ten people
who have schizophrenia take their own life through suicide. Another four out of ten
attempt suicide at least once. I fall into that statistic. You would think that there would
already be a nonprofit focused on empowering college students
who have schizophrenia, especially since the peak age to have
a schizophrenic break is early adulthood – the same age range
as a typical college student. But there isn’t. There is no nonprofit
in the entire United States focused on that. And a general nonprofit
focused on mental health in general is not enough. Because even in the mental
health community, schizophrenia is shied away from, because it makes people
feel “uncomfortable”. That is why I have decided to found the nonprofit
“Students With Schizophrenia”, where we will empower college students
and get them the resources that they need, so they can stay in college
and be successful. Because you could be successful
and also have schizophrenia. We need to change the face
of schizophrenia, because the representation
currently is inaccurate. Don’t let anyone tell you
that you can’t have a mental illness and also not be mentally strong. You are strong, you are brave,
you are a warrior. Unfortunately, this nonprofit
is too late for some. Since I’ve become open
about having schizophrenia I am asked to come
into different classrooms here at Penn State, and talk to the class about my experience
having schizophrenia. One class stands out in particular. Earlier in the semester
one of the students opened up to the class
that she had schizophrenia. I commend her for her bravery. However, by the time that I came
and talked to that class, she had taken her own life
through suicide. We were too late for her. I was too late for her. Here at Penn State, we have to make
an example to the world, because this is not just happening
here at Penn State, it’s happening globally. But here at Penn State, we have to show that we are here for our students, we are talking about mental health, and we are not afraid
to talk about schizophrenia. My name is Cecilia McGough, I have schizophrenia and I am not a monster. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheering)

100 thoughts on “I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia | Cecilia McGough | TEDxPSU”

  1. Hello I just wanted to thank you so much for doing this video it was this video where I told my friends that I have Schizophrenia. I have lost some friends because of it but I also made friends because of me being open it. Even though I have the lowest form of Schizophrenia it was hard to lose those friends because what they know about schizophrenia is from the beautiful mind which a foster family had me watch a 12 when I was first diagnosed but I had symptoms since I was 5 I think that you had a lot of courage and strength to do the videos that you do I wish you the best of luck

  2. My grandmother had Schizophrenia. I wish I could have seen your videos during her struggle. I love you! You're amazing.

  3. Watch the channel special books by Special Kids, it’s an amazing channel and it’s unfair that a channel like this can get comments for people to discuss about this problem and challenge but sbsk cannot. Watch their interview with her, it is more personal and like an interview

  4. But I found out that it's not really a mental illness. Its a Jezebel spirit and people men and woman need deliverance from it

  5. "you won't be able to get a job" are you serious?! how are you even supposed to work with IT always watching over your shoulder and Samara whispering in your ear?!? Vile woman.

  6. Ahhh…shes a monster…lol…noone would think anything different of her unless she told them that there was something wrong with her…..shes cute probably could have a partner that loves and supports her through it…with love and support from family and friends can really help someone with problems like this….damn the it clown following her around…nope i couldnt do it

  7. I saw you on SBSK!!!!
    You have came on leaps and bounds since then…..
    Well done Cecilia !!!
    God bless you ❤️

  8. Almost sounds like the movie IT broke her brain. There was a psychotic clown and a giant spider in that movie, now they're major fixtures in her hallucinations.

  9. I watched this at my school and literally all my friends and classmates were ever upset
    about the poor people that suffer with this.

  10. Dam. She must be better medicated in this video. The other one I saw her in, she had a blunted affect. She could not even look at the interviewer. It had affected her social skills.

  11. I don't know why but I don't believe her. She only talks about 3 types as if they only happened a few times, not ongoing. She seems to be milking this. I just don't believe she is living with this everyday. It seems like dreams that occurred but not consistent. It sounds like she said, at 8 minutes, "Getting medical help was the best decision I never made."

  12. My boyfriend is an alcoholic and a recovered addict to narcotics and he also is probably a schizophrenic. I never thought of it till now but most people I know know about two of these three things. Guess which one they don't know about. The stigmatism behind schizophrenia is terrible and I'm as guilty as anyone of being completely ashamed of it. I really appreciate the work she's doing 🙁 it shouldn't be this way. He refuses treatment or diagnoses. He is too embarassed of it.

  13. ….I didn't knew I needed this until now. Thank you world for giving me this sign. Thank you for this video. Just thank you.

  14. I was hallucinating while on a trip with a ship sometimes called (sailor hallucinationsit) was kind of interesting but got worse and worse by time and now I know how she feel
    She’s hallucinating much more but that won’t make her stay away from the things she like
    She’s strong ❤️

  15. Is amazing and inspiring see someone with diversity stand up and fight, follow your dreams.
    Is inspiring and very positive and powerful message.

  16. The "I am not a monster" in the title was her schizophrenia talking making her think that people think she's a monster.

  17. I know the color red triggers her and she can hear and see Pennywise, but what happens if she gets her period?

  18. Why doesn't anyone with schizophrenia hallucinate pleasant things? If these hallucinations are randomly generated by a chemical imbalance why don't pleasant or happy thoughts invade the persons mind?

  19. This is not normal dont normalize diseases like this… You are not a monster okay fine… you are not NORMAL….

  20. Battling everyday with your own mind must really be something, but she's so strong and courageous. I totally admire her!

  21. In the opening of this video they should have changed the colours to something besides white and red in respect of the fact that Cecilia is triggered by those colours

  22. I have all the symptoms of it and I hear voices and hallucinate everyday. No one knows about it and I know I cant tell my parents because they will hate me and think i'm crazy.

  23. I have lived with a schizophrenic guy for one year when i was in medical college and i know about these hallucinations he went through and medications really helped

  24. It really sucks because people do avoid saying they have it, because they think, or have had people think they are dangerous. It is a very horrible disorder and think, 1% is every 1 and 100 people, meaning if you walk in public, you are most likely going to see someone that has it but not know it.

  25. I cried a little at 11 minutes in. I am schizophrenic and medicine is what saved me.
    I attempted suicide 5 times before medicine.

  26. During my childhood I always dreamed of a man with huge hammer running behind me and he use to hit me so hard on my head ,this dream I use to see multiple times ,I always dream of dying after that hit ,I used to hear different voices especially midnight such as crying of infant or baby ,women cry barking dogs and many more ,I still remember it was horrible I always wanted to sleep with my mom as I use to sweat and couldn’t sleep properly,I never diagnosed,I m 29 now I dnt know whether I was suffering from schizophrenia or not

  27. that makes no sense, how can you hallucinate something? ive never hallucinated, so i dont understand. why would you see cliche scary things? or are you sure they are really hallucinations? maybe the clown is really there?

  28. 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 Like she pointed out Schizophrenia is NOT just about having delusions and hallucinations!!

    This comment section triggers me so much, I have it and do not have those. I have constant depression, withdraw from society, completely irrational thoughts, lack of caring about self, constantly switching job occupations if I can even stand to go to one and have attempted suicide twice, 17 YO and 28 YO. I'm 37 now.

  29. Cecilia, I think you are amazing.. I'd love to know you in person. I am so thankful you're alive today to share with us your feelings. You are most certainly NOT a monster! You're a Beautiful person. I hope some day we cross paths so I can try to make your day 🙂

  30. Complimenti per l'immenso coraggio che hai avuto a esporti.
    Spero che tu sia una guida per tante persone sofferenti.

  31. I absolutely love this young lady. So proud to see her working so hard to save others from mental health issues, specifically, those with schizophrenia. I'm continually impressed by her when I see a video that she's in. What an amazing person.

  32. I'm feeling someone touch my body all time and I don't know what is that, maybe that would be schizophrenia?

  33. Dude its 2 O'clock in the morning. at 4:06 i thought that girl is watching me from Backside of my laptop.

    is sitll watching. anddd Now I lit the tubelight and guess what she is still staring at me. oh wait thats my GFs photograph.

  34. There is a clown right in front of her, you can see that she rarely looks straight forward, instead she looks from one side to another, not focusing on the space in front of her

  35. I saw this woman featured on a youtube channel dedicated to discussing people with various disabilities and challenges.It's hosted by a younger guy with a small beard (can't recall the name of the channel). This woman is clearly intelligent but she must understand why the "typical" person might be at least somwhat frightened…or "wary"…or her. Schizophrenia does make one different…often very different. I know,having worked in academic medicine for years.

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