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

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)

Comments (100)

  1. She had mainly visual hallucinations and she had insight. That's not the case with most people with schizophrenia. They usually have auditory hallucinations and very poor insight. I think ( not sure) visual hallucinations has a better prognosis and people with it has better insight compared the the commoner types

  2. As long as you acknowledge the psychosis that is present and understand that it is real, you can control it. And thus you can control Yourself. Just because someone is diagnosed with a mental illness doesn't mean they have to be put in a facility.

  3. I'm glad she didn't use the word TABOO.

  4. I can’t listen to her saliva

  5. Ne bicim altyazi kadindan 5 dakika gec geliyor

  6. I'm glad we live in an age when this can be talked about openly, identified, and treated. Having said that, this is too painful for me to watch. Not only do I have a form of schizophrenia, I was also studying astrophysics. This was a few decades ago, and the condition just wasn't talked about. I didn't even know what was happening to me. In high school, I taught myself computer programming, calculus (before AP courses). I enrolled at university in both honors math and honors chemistry courses in addition to physics and astronomy. Freshman year went well, but then things started to go haywire. If you've seen the film The Soloist, then you've got a pretty good idea what that's like. Coding language no longer made sense to me. My facility with math disappeared…I remember staring for what seemed hours at one vector problem, and thinking to myself over and over 'I remember knowing how to do this.' So much frustration led to rage and tears. My cognitive ability deteriorated to the point where I had difficulty doing simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. The dreams of a young boy to study astronomy, gone.
    Ultimately ended up homeless and suicidal – it wasn't until 4 years ago did I receive some help. If only my college adviser, or anyone really, had known about schizo breaks, the signs to look for back then…but no.

  7. Love n respect Miss. I have your back

  8. She must have a touch of it.I have a friend that can’t even function for a minute from this issue. He is heavy medicated and he still can’t function..

  9. Thank you Cecilia, for sharing your experience. Knowing more about schizophrenia helps us better understand and support everyone who is dealing with it. We need to get past our fear of mental illness to see the whole, talented and beautiful people who struggle with it.

  10. I'm with you, I'm behind you cecillia. My support wity you. 🙏🌹🥊

  11. I wonder what Christmas must look like without the colors red and white.

  12. Cecelia, just a question . Were you under a lot of stress or did you feel stressed when your first symptoms appeared? I have a lot of first hand experience with this topic through loved ones and friends of family.

  13. I applaud your efforts. Our mental health system is broken. So many hospitals have shut down that our jails are the new mental hospital. This is unacceptable. Much work needs to be done.

  14. I have bipolar disorder and I admire her for speaking up about her mental illness in front of a large crowd. I think it takes a lot of guts and courage to do that. She's amazing…

    Btw, she's too cute to be a monster. Just saying 🙂

  15. Ur bravery and brilliance is a hope to all w mental health issues

  16. I’m not a monster I’m an attack helicopter.

    Just kidding just for the meme

  17. Thankyou…i have Schitzoaffective PTSD …also survivor of suicide attempt (attempted to hang myself)…also childhood abuse survivor..4 hospitalizations. .had similar experience when i was non violent but was handcuffed by police and taken to hospital. .. ..Thankyou for your support. It means so much.

  18. Archons. Academia should understand history. There is no proof brain chemistry has anything to do with this. They are too close minded to realize these entities are real and have been acknowledged by every civilization, culture and tribe from the earliest Sumerian writings onward. Science is a pseudo religion a and its practioners care nothing for truth but instead they themselves are seduced by these entities through ego. An example would be the thousands of giant human skeletons unearthed across North America and buried (pun intended) by the Smithsonian. It is telling that all the hallucinations are negative, no rainbows and unicorns only negativity. The lack of occult involvement suggests generational curses as shown by the manifestations being hereditary.

  19. Thank you for sharing
    thank you for being brave ..people needs tobe educated somtimes

  20. I hallucinate sometimes. But I only see things that I like. For example, I’ve seen an enormous moose or a cartoon bat or colorful cars. Beautiful geometric shapes everywhere I look or extreme feelings of comfort and love for meaningless objects like the buttons on the elevator. It normally happens during a time of very much stress. I’ve been told by the doc it’s not schizophrenia but severe PMS or lupus causing it.

  21. She is smart, artistic and open and she still sees the clown every day. Stay away from horror movies

  22. Someone has just written a peer reviewed paper suggesting what I say in my comment below that these in fact may be real. The label changes with the culture; demons, jinn, fae, aliens etc. I Pplaud the viewers for realizing she is a victim but many of you who say how wonderful and brave she is are hypocrites. Would you have children with her? Allow her to babysit your own? or marry your son?

  23. Such a role model.
    My heart goes out to you
    Bless you!

  24. Am crying listening and reading some of this stories….my mum had or has this diseas, in my country(kenya) it's not that known so they say she is crazy and witched….she ran away when i was in high school 2013 until now it's 7yrs now I dnt know if she is alive or not but I still have hope I will see her again.

  25. Schizophrenia or demons? You decide.

  26. "Wont be able to get a job" lol yeah because theres no such thing as medical confidentiality or HIPA

  27. I couldn’t imagine.

  28. Seeing a woman with a knife trying to hurting you all the time 😶😶oh Lord proud of you girl 🙏🙏

  29. she’ll never be able to listen to the white stripes

  30. I wonder what her hallucinations would've been like if she hadn't been watching horror movies. It's tempting to guess that they would've been milder. Pennywise and the girl in The Ring are designed to be nightmare fuel.

  31. She’s so brave ❤️!!!

  32. she is super hot!!!

  33. My mother has pshizopharenia😞 and these person are genius believe me…my mother sees Angel, snacks, glitters, shades .. strange things is if we give medical treatment my mother think that we are killing her, so she never go to hospital and never take medicine, the doctor always give injection because she not take oral medicine….it's very hard to treat these patients but more difficult is what's going in the head of pshizopharenia and when my mother take treatment, symptoms disappear but tremors and other side effects are so much sevear….no one can imagine

  34. I thought you tried to take your own life through homocide.

  35. Back when I was a kid I was very open about seeing things, but my mom told me this was some “spiritual mental gift” or something like that. I’ll never forgive her for that.

  36. Dear Cecilia Thank you for sharing
    demonstrating how with everything
    difficult challenging your doing it.
    BRAVE admirable.

  37. Granted it's been a few yrs but is she single still?? I'm game. By all means get ahold of me.

  38. Do you hear the wetness in her mouth? I don't think she was all that keen on having this TED talk. You can hear this when a person has adrenaline. Usually during a time when someone is frightened, angered beyond comprehension, etc. Ex: a situation of which calls for adrenaline. Fight or flight. It's happening on that stage. It took alot out of her to be on that stage. Kudos to her!

  39. I knew a guy who in my hometown who had schizophrenia. He was recently killed by the police because they couldn’t get him to stop while he was having a schizophrenic episode.
    My father, my grandmother, and one of my friends has schizophrenia. I really hope more nonprofits will start popping up in the future to help the people in need and also to educate others.

  40. “I just have demons in my head that are screaming at me to kill the nearest infant🙂”

  41. 4:07 Dude I had nightmares for 4 years thanks to Samara Morgan.
    It was IMPOSSIBLE for me to sleep alone and without a light.
    I can't imagine how scary is it to see her when you're awake and to not know if she's real or not.

  42. Wow she’s come so far since the SBSK interview

  43. I don't have schizophrenia, but they're trying to find if I have bipolar or something like that. I haven't told them about the things I see and hear, because they're not like.. That bad. I see angels trying to tell me that my grandma, my two dogs are missing me in the heaven. I always say no, but.. It makes me so sad… I'd want to go with them

  44. Police are not trained properly for people who have mental health issues. It is medieval! My cousin suffers from this illness, and it is very stigmatized.

  45. That little schizophrenic girl named Jani from Oprah is no longer schizophrenic. Also the real John Nash from "A beautiful mind" didn't start hearing voices until after taking antipsychotics from the 60s. He started hearing voices in 1964 and began psychiatric treatment in 1961. The definition of schizophrenia is rather broad as well.

  46. I am very impressed with you. One thing though. I've heard many individuals with mental illness who complain that the police came and took them to hospital. They say they weren't doing anything that would warrant the police being called. They completely blocked out how crazy and threathening they were.

  47. cecilia ,

    you are not a monster, you are one beautiful, brave soul

  48. Lady the one that need real help is your mother.
    I’m not surprised that you did good in life because I’m sure your family bit you in to do it

  49. ❤💚💜💙💛God Bless You

  50. She actually scared me…..

  51. I have no idea what schizophrenia is until now. This is a very serious illness.💔

  52. Thank you for opening up about your diagnosis. I am so sorry that they treated you that way in front of your classmates. Keep up the great work!

  53. I wonder if this is a reaction from the messed up world of today

  54. I know it has nothing to do with this theme but she looks like the female version of timothee chalamet

  55. She’s amazing wow

  56. To everyone who experiences schizophrenia try using CBD, it is truly life-changing!!!

  57. Why doesn't Ted find a skitzophrenic running a buisness

  58. My mother has schizophrenia…. its difficult to explain how my mother had bad times… 😞😞😞

  59. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  60. Jesus isn't an option though huh? That's to bad. Rather have Demons torment you for the rest of your life rather than just giving your life to Jesus. What a stubborn world we live in. Watch the athiest get triggered.

  61. I have schizophrenia too I wanna just say that antipsyhotic medicine and CBD Oil is great combination for me. First time in my live i feel that i can get something from my life.I feel that i can have future and that REALY something.
    For all ppl with schizophrenia and ppl who know someone with that illnes. Read some science papers on CBD oil in treatment with schizophrenia, maybe it will not help (but should) but its very safe and have potencial to realy helps ppl like me :D.
    Greeting and take good care of yourself and ur beloved once

  62. "I'm just someone who can't turn off my nightmares even when I'm awake." ~ Cecilia McGough, 2017

  63. Worked for a year in the psychiatry. My boss told me the story that, when he was younger and worked at a station for schizophrenia, a guy tended to call him his surname when he was alright and his forename when he had been triggered. They liked each other and the patient trusted him a lot. This guy had been quite fine for quite a while, but one day they met in the hallway, and my boss hadn't even realized that he had been called by his forename when his patients' hand came flying.
    The patient later said that there were tiny devils dancing round on my boss's shoulders and were threatening to kill my boss. He was not punching my boss, he was aiming for the tiny devils…

  64. Such a brave inspiring woman.

  65. I don't understand…How do people think she's ,,dangerous" by not doing anything bad?

  66. I've had schizophrenia since I was six so at the time people thought i was telling a fib or just imagining so i went on until junior high. I started seeing this dark figure named Killian now the trippy thing is that my uncle's name is Killian so it frightened me. But my "ghost" would tell me things like who's gonna die or whats gonna happen. It made me so scared I screamed one day during class yelling let go of me. cause he was grabbing me by my arms and shaking me. After that day I started having seizures from it. I soon got help it is now my junior year in highschool but that was my worst expierence. I still have it but I learned art and music help me.

  67. Is she or isn’t she a monster?

  68. I was wondering that when she said red or white, how much effort did it took to not think about those brights…does it gets triggered by that also?

  69. Such a strong woman ❤️ She has been through so much and still has the strength to get through it!This brings me hope.I also suffer from schizophrenia and she inspired me to stay strong and keep moving past life's obstacles 🙂

  70. Cecilia, you are a beautiful & strong woman! Keep on with the good fight!

  71. Am schizophrenic and not ashamed to share my story!!!sometimes I feel like drinking full bottle of bleach just to end my life😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭being schizophrenic is like u being drowned in the 🌊 ocean

  72. Cecilia McGough, first I want to salute you for your strength and courage to speak here. Second, I recommend getting in touch with Simon Parkes, who assists people with mental and emotional disorders, those who hallucinate and feel that they're abducted. He knows of entities that aren't human, he offers his help through skype sessions or telephone calls.

  73. Thank you so much man😭😭 I feel so much better their so amazing

  74. Schizophrenia is not a disease it is demon possession.

  75. Alle achtung dir 👏👏👏🙏🙏🙏🤝❤🤝❤🤝🤝

  76. I’m so proud of you, many ppl needs to speak out about mental health, some finds it shameful, scary, weird but after giving people real explanation to how you feel how you go through it and what kind of problems you have they become more understanding and accepting ppl around you can help you. For example I didn’t know many things about schizophrenia i just sometimes would hear people talk about other ppl who have it and saying they were crazy everyone was staying away from them but after your speech I saw schizophrenia on different light thank you

  77. Im amazed at how she is ignoring the hallucinations while she's talking, you can tell.

  78. When she said the clown is in the audience, I got goosebumps. What an intelligent, brave young woman. Wishing her all the best.

  79. I once revealed my schizophrenia and the results where horrible. The people I told it to would suddenly become scared / uncomfortable around me, which really doesn't help the paranoia, lol. Anyways I found it good to find an anonymous group where I could just talk with other people who have similar conditions.
    Medical help was not something I've been happy with, they just gave me increasing amount of anti depressants which just made everything worse…..
    I turned down anymore medication, managed to find a job, concentrated on that and slowly I've gotten myself in order.
    I don't want to sound like Joe Rogan………..but after trying it one I find myself much more at peace with myself. Many hallucinations are gone and the ones that remain don't bother me.
    The one thing that is certain is that alcohol will make everything go bad. I do enjoy a drink……but I will feel the negative effects for days. Not really worth it and I need to try harder avoiding it all together 🙁

  80. It's a fact that people fear what they don't understand, especially when it comes to any condition that warps the very essence of one's humanity.

    It's easy to see people that are different in that way as inhuman, and to get instinctively defensive. Then people show fear, avoidance, or just ridicule. Even the experts are often cold hearted and methodical about it.

    The mentally ill are still human though, and our perspective on them could benefit from more empathy and less apprehension.

    At the end of the day, we all still feel the same basic emotions and needs, even if we achieve and express them differently. No matter how different someone is mentally, they are still basically the same as you or me, and should be treated with that in mind.

    That's just the way I see it at least. Sorry if I worded that poorly. Haven't had much rest.

  81. I wonder if her schizophrenia contributes to her career achievements.

  82. I'm amazed how humanity treats these ppl

  83. The only person I've met who I know has been diagnosed with schizophrenia was a girl in the psychiatric hospital I stayed in after my suicide attempt. She scared me because unlike Cecelia, her hallucinations had control over her. She was my roommate and at night she would whisper terrifying things about wanting to kill people. Every afternoon she would have an episode where she would scream and slam her face against the wall and try to attack the other patients.
    I knew nothing she did was intentional because she talked about how there were voices in her head telling her to do these things and she just wanted to make them stop but man it traumatized me and a couple of the other patients too.
    I'm glad Cecelia is able to live her life as normally as she can in her situation and that she's reaching out to help other people like her.

  84. I believe that these people are hearing from and seeing demons. My sister began fooling around with an Ouija board when she was about 18. Afterward she began to hear voices telling her to kill herself. She was terrified and admitted herself to the hospital. She was diagnosed as being schizophrenic. Over the next 9 years she was hospitalized a couple of times. It was her choice. The meds that they gave her stole away who she once was. She deteriorated mentally and physically. Still the voices remained. She finally committed suicide when she was 27. I personally believe that these voices are demons and not a hallucination. I know that many will disagree with me, but I just wanted to tell my sister's story. Have a blessed day in Jesus name !

  85. Me: I'm not a monster.
    Also me: Yes, you are.

  86. demons. all people with this problem is a saint

  87. Omg she’s so strong! :,(


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