Dear Diary

January 8, 2014

It’s a brand-new day.


“You have a long history of mental illness in your family, including some schizophrenia,” she said, leaning back in her swivel chair and looking over her notes, “and some history of psychosis yourself.” She looked up and smiled reassuringly.


“You know that we think your psychotic episodes have been depression-induced,” she said. “That you have mood disorders, not a psychotic disorder.”

“I guess so.”

“You are, however, much more susceptible to psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, than others. You probably have the potential to become schizophrenic later in life.” She spoke softly, knowing what I’d feel. She knows me better than anyone.

“Why are you telling me this? What’s the benefit of me living in fear of something I can’t control?” Anger was starting to rise, but only just.

“Some studies show that for people who have the gene, smoking marijuana could suddenly flip the switch, and you could suddenly become schizophrenic. We think the switch could lie within you. In fact, it’s pretty likely.” She was acting far too calm. It was unnerving. “Some people with schizophrenia can manage to have jobs of sorts, even families, in special cases. With high doses of the meds you’re on already, they can have fairly happy lives.” She smiled again, weakly this time.

I couldn’t breathe. I was fuming. I didn’t know how to process what I was feeling in any way except for anger, but anger didn’t feel right.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me this before I started smoking?” I said. “Or when you found out I had?”

She paused. “There’s always the chance that you don’t have the ‘switch.’ But from now on, you shouldn’t smoke, or it will greatly increase the chances.”

“I can’t fucking believe this,” I said. “I can’t believe you. Why are you telling me that one day I could wake up and my life would be over? And that it would have been my fault? I unknowingly demolished my future? Why? Why are you doing this to me?!”

And then it was nighttime, and I was in my boyfriend’s car, and we were driving to my house, with Hadestown blasting. We sang along, and then—

I screeched. My heart was beating a million miles per hour. There—

There was a body on the road. A dead human zombie corpse was lying in the street.

“Peter,” I gasped. I looked back and saw nothing.

There wasn’t a corpse. There wasn’t anything. Of course there wasn’t. I live in the most boring suburb on the planet. There are not corpses in the street.

“What?” he said.

“Oh shit oh shit oh shit.” ♦


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  • soviet_kitsch January 8th, 2014 7:15 PM

    ruby, i wish i could hug you through my screen

  • thebrownette January 8th, 2014 9:14 PM


  • brontosaurus January 8th, 2014 9:51 PM

    Britney, what you wrote was so pretty.. I love it

  • tasmia January 8th, 2014 10:12 PM

    Ruby, I don’t know much about schizophrenia admittedly, but I think your life isn’t necessarily over even if you have it. A woman of the destigmatizing schizophrenia movement, elyn saks, wrote a memoir about her experiences with mental illness in The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. Lots of love.

  • dandelions January 8th, 2014 11:43 PM

    Ruby, Ruby, Ruby… Idk what to say to be helpful, but love for you.

  • Sannie January 9th, 2014 12:33 AM

    katherine, i’m in the gloom too. it’s not pretty, and the fog closes in too often… but i have a safe space where there’s only golden light, and people to bask in that light with me. it’s that escape that keeps me from tipping over every day (instead of slipping into a deep and ugly void per few weeks).

    thankyou, girl.

  • Sarah January 9th, 2014 3:03 AM

    I don’t really know what to say but I hope everything turns out all right for you Ruby

  • Serena Head January 9th, 2014 6:45 AM

    Ruby. I don’t know if you’ll read this or take it seriously, but it’s worth a look, please. My naturopath said I have this and it’s more common than you think, and better, there is an actual cure <3 <3

    • Serena Head January 9th, 2014 6:57 AM

      If you do get tested and have it, they give you a huge dose of b vitamins and zinc, because people with pyroluria excrete any normal amount from their diet or multivitamins. And when your brain can’t get B6 or zinc it’s chemistry goes out of whack and it can’t function properly! It really could be this simple, people really do notice a difference. It’s just not that many doctors or psychiatrists know/take it seriously since the it is not righted by drugs but large amounts of certain vitamins!

  • honorarygilmoregal January 9th, 2014 7:27 AM

    Oh Ruby :( Sending love and hugs via the web.

    Rock that pink-haired look Naomi! Whatever makes you feel beautiful :)

  • shaaash January 9th, 2014 7:52 AM

    is it weird that i adore caitlin? like, so much? her illustrations are just… wow

  • annah-daly January 9th, 2014 9:05 AM

    Ruby, it’s highly doubtful that you’d be showing signs of schizophrenia this early. It generally shows up in your late teens at the very earliest. The timeline doesn’t fit, and it’s very possible you’re psyching yourself out now that you’re concerned.

    Also, I know it’s not what you want to hear, but my husband is schizophrenic. We got married young because of it, so I could be his medical proxy when he was not capable of speaking for himself. But he’s better now. He’s never going to get “over” it but he hasn’t had any episodes in several years and has little side effects from his meds. We have a baby boy. He has a job, I work from home. We have a normal life.
    It’s a very scary thought, but no scarier than any other mental disorder. It’s manageable. You’re going to be ok, no matter the outcome.

    • strawberryhair January 9th, 2014 11:50 AM

      My dad and several of my relatives have bipolar disorder, which is frequently assumed to have a devastating impact on your personal life or career. My dad and two of my uncles who have bipolar disorder are married and have children, and all of my family members with bipolar disorder have good jobs and a steady income. There’s a lot of scare mongering about mental illness, but the truth is that it can be treated effectively and it is completely possible to live a fulfilling and happy life.
      My dad says that everyone enters life at a disadvantage, whether it’s that you have a mental or physical health condition or are born into an impoverished family, but that all of these things are manageable.
      Even if you are diagnosed with schizophrenia, Ruby, you’re going to be able to handle it. I can’t promise you that life won’t knock you down; but I can promise you that you’re strong enough to get back up again. You’re a great person and a beautiful writer and you’re going to have one of those lives filled with everything, with music and poetry and love and art and friendship, and, yeah, sorrow; but that’s life; that’s everyone’s life, and it’s worth fighting through it for the good parts.
      Lots of love <3

      • lotusmarina January 20th, 2014 3:01 AM

        strawberryhair, wow. This is stunning and I totally agree with you.

  • elliecp January 9th, 2014 11:03 AM

    I totally get you Naomi…I always dress up to express myself, and can imagine I would feel the same about hair dye. I’d love to completely change myself and become a different person just by changing my hair colour.

  • taste test January 9th, 2014 12:07 PM

    ruby- your entry- wow. please don’t freak yourself out. it was probably no big deal. similar things have happened to me. we all love you & no matter what you’ll still be the same awesome ruby.

  • Taylor WM January 9th, 2014 7:17 PM

    Ruby, you have so many beautiful, wonderful things ahead of you that you don’t even know of yet. Schizophrenia is what I am taking my qualification in at the moment and although it can seem scary, and what you hear can be unsettling… people are only preparing you for the worst case scenario. Being diagnosed with schizophrenia does not mean your life is over, it just adds another dimension to your life, a separate battle – but not altogether an impossible battle. Many people live successfully with schizophrenia, and have found ways to make their suffering work for them (Elyn Saks, Eleanor Longden.) What you have been told now is probably the hardest part out of the way, and I wish for you nothing but love for what is to come… you can get through it, and you will. People offline and online are always here for you and I wish you strength for everything you are currently going through… it sucks admittedly, especially since you haven’t been told the whole picture from the start, but this is not the end, this is not even remotely near the end. Sending you lots of love and virtual support, xxxxxxxx and apologizing for my current awkward internet presence :S xxxx

  • book_kitty January 9th, 2014 8:07 PM

    Love you Ruby. ;)

  • YouthLedAstray January 9th, 2014 8:39 PM

    I feel weird because everyone is posting such supportive things for Ruby, and my heart goes out to her, no question about it… But I have pink hair and I’m glad that someone else thought it was a good idea, so thank you, Naomi!

  • Monica B January 10th, 2014 12:20 AM

    I’m sending my love.

  • mangointhesky January 10th, 2014 6:27 PM

    This was… Wow.

  • Sophii January 11th, 2014 7:54 PM

    I was talking to a friend the other about all the different hair and style possibilities out there but how limiting society is. I love to change my appearance to express myself and I’m quite adventurous but I wish there were less socially constructed boundaries.

    Katherine, I was ill last week but my parents wanted me to stay off school for a couple of extra days after I was feeling better because they were concerned about like my mental health and stuff. With all the sleeping and staying inside I think even I started to confuse my physical health and my mental health. Also, I hope you enjoy watching loads of movies with your dad.

    Ruby, I love you. We all love you. Stay strong, stay safe. Don’t worry <3 <3

    Britney, you write beautifully as ever


  • Octopus January 12th, 2014 12:46 PM

    I’ve been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder for command hallucinations, auditory hallucinations, and visual hallucinations, as well as paranoia. the things that have really helped me cope have been exercise, deep breathing, and reality checks (as stupid as they sound.) I’m sending hugs and good thoughts your way!

  • NF4awesome January 22nd, 2014 5:14 AM

    This may sound creepy, but since I’ve started reading rookie, I’ve felt most similar to Naomi and Ruby, and whenever something happens to either of them I either feel celebratory or get pangs of empathetic sadness.

    I’m so happy Naomi is having fun and experimenting.

    I feel terrible that Ruby is so upset.
    Everyone’s comments to you here are so thoughtful, and, like they said, it doesn’t manifest this early usually.
    Also, I have a suspicion that when these types of doctors freak kids out about their specific behavior causing some horrible thing, it’s mostly because they’re biased against that behavior. I’ve read a couple articles previously that suggest the link between schizophrenia is more coincidental than causal, and that it’s just that certain types of people are more likely to smoke in the first place, not that the smoking causes these changes in the people.
    Anyway, I wish you all the best :)

  • Ash13 January 26th, 2014 12:35 PM

    Ruby – even if you are showing signs of schizophrenia, don’t label yourself with it. Thinking you have it will make you act more like you have it. Anyway, your writing is amazing as ever and I can totally identify with you. I felt like this when I was diagnosed with autism.