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My Story: A Permanent Scar

Go to soundcloud.com/tmcg45 for my music, links to my book and short stories, and my music on iTunes.

I’ll start at the beginning of my struggles.

In 2013 I graduated from high school, having achieved a lot, including a 3.99 cumulative GPA, membership in the National Honor Society, a 2050 on my SATs and a 32 on my ACTs, becoming captain of the football team and being named second team all Southwestern conference.

I went off to college at the University of Connecticut. I volunteered for a political activism organization called ConnPIRG and was quickly named the Vice President. I got a 3.98 GPA my first semester. But then I became obsessed with concepts I didn’t really understand. I won’t go into detail, only know that I wrote a book about my obsession. I was obsessed with Danny MacArthur, the overman. I created the character and then could not stop thinking about it, so I wrote a book where a young man finds the character.

I dropped out. I got a tattoo on my hand to remind me of my values: integrity, efficiency, dignity, which was a stupid idea because it seriously limits my job prospects. I dropped out of community college because I had a psychotic episode. I worked multiple jobs, the most important of which was when I got into local union 488, the electricians union that only accepts about 5% of applicants. They must have been impressed by my grades in high school.

I worked at Bridgeport central high school, Bridgeport hospital, and the oxford powerhouse, but I was laid off for six months of the year that I worked. I went one month where I worked about 75 hours a week.

I also ended up in a psychiatric hospital eight times and attempted suicide five times after running away from home because I believed the world was ending.

Now comes the darkest and most significant part of my journey with my mental health.

On 9/8/2017, I got an email from Shutterfly that said “I will kill you.” This was after months of getting spam emails from Shutterfly, sometimes as many as twelve a day. It made me feel scared and paranoid.

Here is an image of the death threat:

Before the death threat, I had made an Instagram post where I said “Donald Trump is president, you can say whatever you want” and I called him a “ridiculous person.” I got the death threat soon after. So I assumed the two were related.

I assumed that the government was going to kill me.

I quit my job. My parents still thought I was working so I had to pretend that I was by leaving the house early every day and loitering in various places, mainly the Fairfield university bookstore. This made me feel anxious because my parents didn’t know I quit my job.

I started having intense delusions of grandeur, brought on by the death threat. I figured if Shutterfly wanted to kill me then I must be very important. I spent my time recording music, posting to soundcloud, making YouTube videos about conspiracy theories, and trying to sell my book. This made me feel embarrassed.

I started to believe that there was going to be a zombie apocalypse because of an article I found online called “The Real Walking Dead.” I made small flyers to warn people about the coming apocalypse and I posted them all over Fairfield county. This is how I spent my time while I was out and about but not working. It made me feel embarrassed again.

I got really into conspiracy theory literature like the writings of Mike Hockney and Adam Weischaupt. I believed that the Illuminati was trying to kill me because I figured out their secrets. I posted more flyers around Fairfield county to try to recruit people to join me in my work. This made me feel important, but also embarrassed once again.

Eventually, in early April of 2018, I took my car and ran away from home. I thought the east coast was not safe because there would be a flood. I also thought that the government knew where I lived so they could come to my house and kill me so I went to Pennsylvania and lived out of my car for about eighty days. While I was there I pawned my possessions to buy food and I stole food as well. This experience made me feel more paranoid because I saw a car that was blasting dark music and I thought Shutterfly sent them to intimidate or kill me. I saw ice cream trucks whose drivers were smoking cigarettes and I thought these people were trying to kill me as well. I hid out at a movie theater for a few days. I hid out at a private university because I thought it was safe but eventually the cops found me on tape, determined I wasn’t a student, and kicked me off the premises with a warning. All this time I was still making YouTube videos. Eventually I destroyed my phone. This made me feel stupid.

At one point I ran through a swarm of bees without getting stung because it was the only way to get back to my car.

I hid out at the Lehigh mall for multiple weeks because I felt safe there. I went to a hotel, walked in while the maid was cleaning the room, and told the maid I was staying there. The hotel called my room but I did not pick up. The police came and I told them my name is Danny MacArthur, a character from my book. They took me to prison where I went before a judge who told me it was a seven year sentence for criminal trespass but I told him I was being followed by a gang so they let me out. I went to court where I told them I was being followed by a gang and they told me the criminal trespass charges were dropped but they put me on probation for giving a false identification to a law officer. I think they could tell I was a schizophrenic so they let me off the hook.

I pawned my clothes and other possessions to make money to buy food. I hung out at the mall and at bobs discount furniture because they gave away free food and they had a television. I originally bought my MacBook Pro for $2000 but I pawned it for $200. It was a stupid move, but I was just desperate for food, and I was just lucky to have a pawn shop nearby. I even smashed my cell phone because I thought the government was monitoring my activity.

After I pawned my laptop, I was walking on the highway trying to get back to the pawn shop. I was coming from the Lehigh valley mall. The police stopped me and told me I could not walk on the highway. I told them I needed to get to the pawn shop. They tried to search my anus for bombs but I objected and they went silent and got very awkward as they realized I was not a threat. They assumed I was going to the pawn shop to do something explosive, you might say. But no, I did not have a bomb in my anus, I simply wanted my laptop back so I could show the police the death threat. Then maybe they would take me seriously.

I had multiple run ins with the police. The first time I went into a dollar general to steal food and I talked angrily into the security camera because I thought it was watching me. The shop owners called the police, and when they came, I told them I was being followed. They asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I said no. We argued and went our separate ways.

The second time I saw the police was when I was on the highway. When I was hiding out at Lehigh University, posing as a student, they found me after two weeks and kicked me off the premises with a warning. The final time I saw the police was when they finally put me in a psych ward.

Another time, I walked into a hotel, burned a book that was supposedly written by the Illuminati in the fire, and then stole a hotel room. I saw a girl in the elevator and I thought I recognized her from twitter. I also saw a car that said something like “hideout” and I got in for a second, hoping to steal it, because for some reason I thought this car would take me to a place where I could hide undetected.

I hung out outside of a Burger King for a while. It opened at 7 am so I could go in and use the bathroom and one of the employees could tell I was homeless so he gave me 20 nuggets for $1.49. I met a woman named Julie Mallen who I now follow on Twitter. I told her I was being hunted and she seemed to believe me. She told me that she ran for president to expose one of the secrets of the government and she also told me that the gangs were after her too.

See, when I first got to Pennsylvania I felt safe. I had a comfy car, a phone, a laptop, and enough money for food for a few days. The reason I originally went to that specific spot was because a company called Trugreen emailed me and offered me a job in the area. I went for an interview, told my mom I was going away for a while, and then I slept in my car for a few days. But on about the third day, I was sitting in the parking lot at 2 am by the pawn shop, and a car full of people drove up about 100 feet away. It was playing the scariest music I have ever heard. I assumed they were there to kill me, and the first rule of survival is to stay put and wait for someone to rescue you, so I froze.

This is what set me off. A few days later I was outside of a Wendy’s, with the back of my car to the wall of an abandoned Mexican restaurant, and a white van pulled up in front of me. He was eating a sandwich voraciously. The thought in my head was as follows:

They know I am starving so they assume I’ll ask for food. The food is poisoned. Don’t engage.

So I opened my car door and started flipping a pocket knife. I thought I was going to get into a fight to the death with this guy. Later on, at the police station, I recognized the man in the white van, or at least I thought I recognized him. He was one of the top ten most wanted people in Eastern Pennsylvania and his name was Michael. He was wanted for rape and murder.

I wandered into a few restaurants. One time I ate a meal, had a conversation with a middle aged man, and then left without paying, telling them that my father, Danny MacArthur, would pick up the tab. Then I went to another restaurant and sang karaoke under the name “Danny MacArthur” but the manager kicked me out because I was making a scene. I went without a fuss.

At one of the restaurants I told them I had no money and that I was homeless. They offered to feed me for free. The guy who gave me food allowed me to stay at his apartment with him, his boyfriend, and his brother for a few days, where I finally got food and a shower. I hope someday to find these people, if I can ever remember their names, so that I can pay them back for the free food and the shelter. It was very kind of them.

Probably the weirdest thought I had was that, when I found a card in the hotel, it had a hidden meaning. It said 201 on it. I assumed someone had left the card as a sign that I should take room 201, so I did. Then the cops knocked on the door to find me toweling off after a shower, and I was facing a 7 year prison term for criminal trespass, but I got out of it.

At one point I even thought the television was talking to me.

I would pawn my clothes at Platos Closet and I told one of the girls there that I was in the same club that Plato was in, oddly enough. I gave them my information one time. The next day there was an ambulance outside the building. I assumed this had something to do with me giving them my information so I split and I went to hide out at the movie theater and the park, where I played basketball with a group of teenagers.

I spent a lot of time at a local park that was near the homeless shelter. I went there once and took my boots and socks off. I rubbed my feet against the metal poles because my feet were numb and I could barely walk anymore. I had a severe case of trenchfoot. I told a group of kids that I was being followed by a gang but they didn’t believe me. Good for them.

It was at this park that I had my best and my most unusual moments. An old man walked up to me and said “want to fuck?” I said “did that really just come out of your mouth?”

My best moment involved helping a crying kid. I noticed a little boy crying on a park bench and I went over and sat next to him. He was mad that his mother was letting his sister use his bicycle. I reasoned with him and allowed him to cry. Then he stopped crying, said “thank you for helping me,” and went on his way. It was a great moment and it was something that taught me the best way to deal with kids is just to listen. If they cry or scream, let it happen. Just try to reason with them and explain to them why they are usually crying about something that isn’t necessary.

Finally, after two months of wandering the streets making YouTube videos and scrounging for food and places to go to he bathroom, I told the police that people were trying to kill me. I was in a park late at night and two people came there to smoke marijuana. I talked to them but one of them was a post op transgender person and I am scared of transgender people so I thought they were trying to kill me. They told me they would meet me at my car to give me some food because they knew I was homeless. I walked the other way and then went straight to the cops, who took me to a psychiatric hospital called Saint Luke’s. I was there for two weeks where I was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic because I kept complaining that people were trying to kill me, even people in the psychiatric hospital. 

I got out of the psychiatric hospital to find multiple tickets on my car. I was still on probation so I had to submit to drug testing and sign in on a sheet at town hall every day. 

A kind woman named Michelle took me in and let me stay with her for two more weeks before my parents came to pick me up. By this time it was mid June so it was too hot to hang out in my car all day. I spent my time either lying in bed or hanging out with other homeless people at a place right up the street that helped the homeless. I finally had a reliable source of food and a bathroom. This made me feel safe for the first time in over a year.

My parents took me home around the time of my 23rd birthday. They had to pay multiple fines for the parking tickets and to get me off probation. I was in $4000 worth of credit card debt at the time. This made me feel hopeless.

When I was in the psychiatric hospital I lost control of my thoughts and started to scream and convulsed uncontrollably. Basically I had a panic attack, and ever since then I have had a severe headache.

When I got home I applied for disability, which I got on the first try and used the $8000 I received to pay off my credit card debt. I still spent my time making YouTube videos and posting to soundcloud but eventually I deleted both platforms. I attempted suicide by hanging because I couldn’t cope with the headache anymore. I was sent to another psychiatric hospital where I told them about people trying to kill me and I was diagnosed as a schizophrenic for the third time. This was my eighth hospitalization in three years.

I spent two weeks in the psychiatric hospital where they let me have my guitar, which was very nice of them to do. I got out and started the intensive outpatient program at St Vincent’s in Norwalk. I spent six weeks in group therapy and it helped me a lot. This made me feel a sense of camaraderie that I had not felt since I was in the electricians union.

I got a seasonal job driving a truck and power washing houses for americares homefront in Bethel, Connecticut. This lasted from April to early May of 2019. This made me feel useful and productive for the first time in a while.

I no longer feel paranoid but I am in constant pain, so bad that I don’t think I can ever go back to my career as an electrician. My head feels heavy and I get shaky when I do anything intense for more than twenty minutes. I recently found out from a lyme doctor that I most likely have chronic neurological Lyme disease. I work part time for instacart. I also worked for Nordstrom in the sono mall in the retail stock and fulfillment section and I enjoyed it. I worked there for two months but unfortunately I had to quit because I have gastroparesis and I was throwing up every day.

My story is a testament to the suffering of a schizophrenic. People with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of violence, and they are not inherently more violent. For example, my younger brother threw ninja stars at me and threatened to stab me because I told him I thought 9/11 was an inside job. This is why you have to reason with a delusional person, not attack him or her. I have two metal screws and a permanent scar on my arm simply because I stood up for what I believed in.

I was treated fairly by the justice system but unfairly by the police. They told me they couldn’t do anything about the death threat. I want to sue Shutterfly or find a private investigator to discover who threatened me but I don’t have the money. One of the police officers threatened to kick my ass. If he had the proper training, he would have known how to deal with a schizophrenic who is off his meds. Saint Luke’s discharged me to nowhere. I had stayed in a homeless shelter but I got kicked out when I accused the people there of trying to kill me and steal my backpack.

The two people smoking in the park left a brochure for a place where the homeless can go for free food and camaraderie. I thought the FBI had left it to help me. Eventually I found the place and it felt like magic when I found out it was real. I got very lucky to have found Michelle and the homeless house. It wasn’t a shelter but they offered food and a nurse, who I became close with. I even met a 25 year old girl and we went into the woods for coitus, but that’s a different story.

Not everything has been negative. In early 2019 I met a music publisher. He listened to one of my songs and told me I could be a rock star with him as my manager. I told him I didn’t have the talent to be a rock star but I would like to be a songwriter. He is legit; he has 46k followers on Instagram and he got me in touch with Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Justin wanted to buy three of my songs but I lost touch with him, he’s very busy. Taylor wanted to take me on tour with her but I said no because my chronic pain holds me back.

The death threat has left me permanently scarred. I went to the hospital in early 2020 where a psychiatrist told me that my headache is caused by TMJ. That was a misdiagnosis. My chronic pain is most likely caused by neurological Lyme, and at this point I am convinced that it caused my psychosis and gastroparesis as well. I have done IOP twice and I almost did it a third time but I quit because I figured I had done it enough.

It took a lot of effort, but I was finally diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia type 2. I saw 12 doctors, had a dozen blood tests, two MRIs, two cat scans, tried 23 different methods of relieving the headache (mostly prescription medicines), and received five misdiagnoses. But I now know I have the suicide disease, and I understand why it makes people suicidal.

I do hope that someone reads my story and discovers that, with the proper support and the right combination of meds, (s)he too can recover from a debilitating mental illness. My pain leaves me with a permanent headache that confines me to the life of a delivery boy, but at least I am no longer delusional, and at least I am happy.

At my best, I wrote a novel and worked 75 hours a week. At my worst, I dropped out of college, wound up homeless, and believed sandy hook was a hoax. Don’t worry, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories anymore.

Thank you for allowing me to share. If there is anything I have learned from my experiences, it’s that even a life of suffering is better than death.

By Thomas McGlone

Political junkie, a little bit of a jokester. Fighting chronic pain and schizoaffective disorder every day. Independent, lean left.

Diversity is a strength, climate change is real, raise the minimum wage, pro-choice, end the senseless wars, common sense gun reform, abolish the electoral college, legalize marijuana, close loopholes for taxes and guns. All opinions are my own.

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