Psycho in Disguise
A True Story about the Life of a Schizophrenic
by Rochelle Tschida
Date Sep. 7th, 2016
A waitress at The Modern on 53rd in New York City approaches your table. Her glasses are artistic, funky, slightly too big for the small face they adorn. People person, it’s obvious she has waited many tables. Why else would she work here? a prime location, one of twenty or so waiters at this Danny Meyer dining room. You can tell by the clientele this position is sought by most food aficionados, especially artists and other creatives looking for a flexible schedule.
You are unaware that this particular waitress is unique, rare, finding a random hidden bench, blocks away, as her home. The location is just out of sight, near a public rest area, close enough to walk to work. She won’t cover herself with news papers to sleep, she has secrets, ways of getting necessities, darker mysteries.
This particular girl lives by a keen alertness, she may pay close attention to everything you say regardless of its importance. She is looking, hoping you may slip, give her information, not about the gang members of the east side bridge, more official.
She lives off the Crescent Heights stop in Brooklyn, that’s what her papers officially read. A fake address allowed her to take the position, interviewed only once. Wholefoods is the office where she will meet strangers, record conversations, keep a document of the interactions while listening to the crowd as she had trained herself to do.
Today she wrote a briefing;
Free Agent, “George Willie”
Sep., 30th 2015
The infamous Drone Girl, after my package landed on the White House lawn the Secret Service went into a tizzy attempting to solve the puzzle that was Me. You, my partner, caught by Putin, almost instantaneously the news outlets were hying about the courageous, mysterious, Me.
The sight of a drone broke National air space to drop a Top Secret letter, stamped You and Me. Separated in 2012, Me is signalling a burnt flag, firecrackers, and street markers where the body was. California thirteen, Gotham is in flames. The dogs are rabid, and the Joker was spotted downtown.
Villains gathered, beach side, tattoos and slicked back hair in circles of three to take out Me. The five fingered men whispered SS, and handled Jim Beam. White smoke, gasoline, and gunshots, the station was saran wrapped, tarps lined the walkways to the front door. The evidence boxed, stuffed in the trunk, backed out.
Dinosaurs hide, behind cameras, titles, and doctor coats with elaborate schemes. Psychological complexities, three words interjected signalled the plan to kidnap Me. The van was prepped, all in white, money laundered into hands of greed, celebrities paid off the hit man to find Me.
Skid Row Mondays, Me sat silently, listening. Whispers said Me be wacky, crazed, cheap, not worth the five fingered men who paid the man on Main Street. Tigers, Angels, Birds, and a Fox, the hunt began to trap Me. Rattlers, a scorpion, and dirty water, the street was filling with dangers, plots and eyes that would follow Me.
Cornered by the Butcher, meat for the table, Me wrote, “Dear President, red waters and knights are short. Table height, plastic wrapped fingers, the eye watched closely.”
“Beware, Devil inside,” wrote his arm. He hid, closed door, cleaning the bathtub vigorously. Pennies on the floor, golden wrappers, Trojans of three, a cross left by the phone off the hook. Nike shoe box near the window, left open, and sheets thrown about the bed, a mannequin peeked beneath the covers.
Negatives, a handful, hats, and a cane, the confusion began to clear. Knights, I could not sleep through. Tears ran dry. Men sat perched on bus benches, across from my bedroom window. To negate their view I’d Work past noon, computing, and sleep through dinner. “The keeper of the gate”, they said, watching the kitchen at midnight, eyes would glare.
“You had to have been there,” she tells her therapist. It’s the spring of 2016 and she is being treated for schizophrenic delusions. “Why did the FBI come to your door?” her doctor wonders.
“It was the day I went to the White House that winter.”
By this time most of my days were spent at the Apple Store researching, the Nazi criminal affiliation in Texas, mafiosos of the past, gang history, what SS meant. The diagnosis happened in Los Angeles in 2013 after stumbling upon a crime scene. I don’t know what it triggered, but the delusions began slowly.
First it was that gang members wanted the photographs from the scene. Faces, everyday, became more peculiar, wanted something. Strangers too, not foreign, they must have known me because they had been sent by a government informant to gather information about who I was and why I was there. At this point the photographs were evidence of a mafia cover up. A high ranking member had killed another and these photos were evidence.
I’m not sure why.
She remembered New York City. The days she had spent writing intelligence briefs to Barack Obama and Jack, a family friend. Each was coded with significant markers, billboards were messages from inside agents, music videos a way for gang members and drug affiliations to communicate, and Hollywood something called Star Wars, a group of cocaine buyers and dealers headed by producers in the industry.
None of it is a blur. She continues. My sister finds it weird that I remember being “insane”.
The therapist says nothing, his pen jots down notes as she speaks. It doesn’t matter how he feels about her, it’s society that she has begun to find disgusting.
The word alone is repulsive, seems to make people jump or turn, sometimes cringe. Often they will make a remark that it must be relieving not to deal with my “other selves”, ignorant that I am only one self and don’t have multiple personality disorder, “It’s schizophrenia.”
There was an instance in her childhood where she wrote about a woman in a psych ward, terrified that somehow it might be her, the paper coming to life.
I would lay in bed in this all white room and wonder, what if I had never written that piece about the woman in the psych ward, would this have happened?
She was spitting medication in the toilet each morning at nine am. The doctors hadn’t noticed the severe side effects that had caused her to seize, fainting in the hall on many occasions, a light headedness daily, migraines, and strong fatigue.
After several days of spitting the effects would wear a little, but my muscle spasms and twitching was exhausting.
She had no control over the movements of her arms and legs. They would jerk and shake without ceasing. All day. During breakfast the fork could barely make it to the mouth, food would fall, and her arm so tired it would not lift off the table.
The drool from my mouth constantly wiped by my shirt or a towel I carried around the ward. I was unable to control the muscle in my mouth, no matter how much effort the drool would continue. All day. All night. I would wake to a pool of drool on my pillow. It made me feel senile.
No medications had worked. Not Prolixin, not Risperdal, Fluphenazine, the doctor had misdiagnosed her with Bipolar and prescribed the wrong medication. She decided to phone the White House for help.
I told the woman, “My name is agent Rose, number 0217, this is critical. Tell the president to send an FBI agent to take me from this psych ward I’m being tortured.” She told me to phone the police. This was a matter for the local authorities.
She realized that her beauty disguised her schizophrenia. In Los Angeles, following her hospitalization he bunked with a man from OKCupid. “It amazes me that you’re this intelligent, given your schizophrenia. You don’t really seem to have schizophrenic tendencies.” He was a psychology and philosophy graduate. She found it offensive that he thought her intellect was somehow affected by the condition.
Well, after being arrested by the police at the White House, the intelligence briefings each day for several months, coding day in and out, and acting like an informant for the CIA, I thought it would be interesting to test for the CIA to see if I might pass.
“What happened?!” he was shocked that the thought had ever occurred.
I did, but they don’t accept people on medication so it wasn’t possible. It crossed my mind to lie, skip the medication for a period while they did a background check, mostly because medical history is confidential, and I’m intelligent enough to fake out the doctor at their facility.
“The idea was to dedicate my life to finding stories much like my own. Outcasts, voices who had suffered, people in circumstances that are rare and interview, photograph and write about them in a program as part of the intelligence agency,” she told the recruiter.
“Mamme we don’t allow people with your condition inside the military, even if you don’t carry a gun.”
What a loss.
Born in a cult in Minnesota, photography and film found my life in youth. I graduated from George Mason University with a BA in film.
Career encompasses Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York, and Austin TX, a photographer in commercial and film
studios. My condition was diagnosed in 2013 while living homeless, and continued through the spring of 2016, traveling
to above cities. Recently, after several hospitalizations and failed medications I am healthy and writing about my life experiences.