“At one point I went five nights without sleeping.”
Keith O’Neil wasn’t born on a football field, but he might as well have been. He was a scrapper—six feet tall and 240 pounds. He had speed and hit like a train. He also had pedigree: His dad, Ed O’Neil, was an NFL linebacker from 1974 to 1980, primarily for Detroit.
Still, as physically gifted as he was, O’Neil never quite felt right as a kid. “I had a lot of anxiety,” he says. “I first started feeling things when I was nine, but I was too young to know I shouldn’t be feeling them.” He had no idea what was brewing in him. He pushed through it all with football—high school, college, and eventually the NFL. He played for five years as a part-time linebacker and special teams player for the Cowboys, Colts—winning a Super Bowl ring in 2007—and briefly with the Giants (he retired later in 2007). more
You know the feeling when you walk through a doorway and you’ve forgotten why you’re there? That’s how it felt to walk through the hospital door and enter the psychiatric ward for the first time. A little bit surreal.
The first time I entered those doors was 14 years ago—I was just 16 and hiding under a very thin white blanket while seated in a wheelchair. My parents escorted through the doors. Now, you may be wondering why I was under a blanket. In the frame of mind I was in, it was hard to tell, but I’ve since learned that I was exhibiting the symptom of paranoia that many people with bipolar disorder experience. I was frightened out of my mind, and rightfully so. Only a few nights earlier I had heard demons chanting the name of my savior in my head: “Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!” more
Perhaps the most infamous effect of meth on long-term users, though severely understudied, is psychosis. Often called “tweaking,” there are many aspects of psychosis—a severe mental disorder in which people lose contact with reality, very similar to acute paranoid schzophrenia.
A psychosis is generally characterized by:
- strange beliefs about things that aren’t plausible
- insects crawling under the skin
- feeling overly suspicious of people
- feeling like other people are ‘out to get you’
- hearing voices
- seeing things that aren’t there
- talking to people who aren’t real
- peeking out the window
- taking things apart and putting them back together
Often, the paranoia a user experiences becomes debilitating. Paranoia is a self-reinforcing loop of beliefs that escalates in a fearful emotional state. Meth can distort reality, altering belief systems, and lessens the ability to control emotions, making fear and anxiety prevalent. more