|Few people know about the man in the trench coat, and even fewer understand his power over Jay. Nobody but Jay can see him. This man in the trench coat is a "symptom" of Jay's schizophrenia.
Young children often have imaginary friends. Mental resourcefulness allows children to create the perfect companion to meet their needs. As a private full-time playmate, these imaginary friends drift away as the years pass.
When I was in first grade, the nuns taught me about guardian angels. Afterwards I began sitting to one side of my desk so that my own personal guardian angel would have a place to sit next to be. The concept of having a benevolent friend who is always watching and guarding you, becomes a comfort to those who believe.
Schizophrenics often experience the presence of people who are invisible to others. The hold that these imaginary people have over their victim is as stong, or stronger, than that of a guardian angel. Unfortunately, these imaginary people are usually evil. They are the antithesis of a guardian angel. They are a symptom of an active psychotic episode.
Jay called me at 12:30 in the middle of the night, frantic. He was unable to sleep, and the man in the trench coat was demanding action, or repercussions would follow. Jay had experience with repurcussions.
When he was much younger, the man in the trench coat told Jay that if he went to sleep that night, his grandfather would die. His grandfather wasn't sick at the time, nor had he recently called or visited. Despite his best efforts, Jay fell asleep before the night was over.
The next morning, his mother woke him with the news that his grandfather had passed away diring the night. Jay believes, to the depths of his soul, that he was responsible for his grandfather's death. No amount of logic will ever convince him otherwise.
"Ms. Shelton, please talk to me. The man in the trench coat is in the room with me. Everyone else has gone to bed." Jay's voice was shakey, and his speech was forced. He sounded almost out of breath.
"I'm glad it's you Jay. Usually when the phone rings in the middle of the night, it's a call for me to take my mom to the hospital. Let me get my heart out of my throat, My heart is beating ninety miles an hour. I automatically go into panic mode when the phone rings in the middle of the night."
I ask my friends not to call late, although I'm often awake till the wee hours of the morning.
"I think I've found the perfect job for you . . . "
"No, Ms. Shelton" Jay cut in. "You don't understand. I need to talk to you now. Your heart may be beating fast again after I tell you."
"Tell me what's happening," I said, realizing this was a different kind of emergency call in the night.
"I have to talk to Gabriel, and I can't find him. The man in the trench coat is here. He's telling me that if I don't hurt myself, or Josie, that Gabriel is going to die! I've got to find Gabriel!" Jay was hysterical.
I'm not a psychologist, but having been diagnosed as bipolar, I've done lots of research on different mental disorders. I've had psychotic episodes, and I've read the textbook analysis about brain chemistry differences.
Jay was having a psychotic episode, and he needed me to help being him back to reality. I thought about telling him to call the crisis hotline, but then I realized that my empathy for his mental state might enable me to help him.
We had talked before, about how hallucinations can take over your life. My hallucinations have been only auditory, but hearing sounds that others didn't caused me to retreat to living at home with my mother.
We found a doctor for me at the local MHMR facility, she prescribed an anti-psychotic cocktail, and after several months I came back to a regular world.
If you've never had a psychotic episode, it's similar to a bad acid trip. The brain's chemical activity