By Travis Williams
As I sat next to him on the couch, I noticed that Jeff had taken an unusual interest in a video game case, which had been on the coffee table in front of us. He stared at the case with a gaze of amazement that I felt certain had nothing to do with the game itself, due to the fact that he was holding it upside down. After several minutes of observing his actions, I asked him what he was looking at. He looked at me with his wide blue eyes and said, “I got it. I figured it out. I know how to read their language. I know what they are really trying to say. It says ‘lies’.”
As much as I wished that he really did figure something out, I knew he didn’t. There is just no way that by turning “Zelda” upside down that you can extract some truer meaning. I expressed my doubts to his theory, and inquired as to who “they” were. He tried to show me how to decode the message, but it was a bunch of nonsense involving the shapes of the letters; it was as if he were seeing something that I couldn’t. He then went through the rest of the stack of game cases on the table, decoding and writing down the messages, trying to prove the validity of his methods to me. Almost every one of the messages had something to do with lies. I never received a definitive answer as to who “they” were, but apparently they were lying to him.
I have known Jeff since elementary school, but only recently has his behavior become so abnormal. I first became concerned for him on a night when we were hanging out at a mutual friends house with a few others. He arrived shortly after myself, greeted everyone and sat down. He began talking about an idea he had to improve the air intake in his car. The mechanics in the room critiqued his idea, but they thought that he may have been onto something. After a few minutes of chit-chat amongst the group Jeff started spouting his prediction that the United States was going to break up into several smaller countries. He claimed that there were “concentration camps” already built all over the country, which would be used for dissenters. He thought this was all going to happen by the year 2012 and he had a plan for what he was going to do when the shit hit the fan.
Jeff rolled himself a cigarette and went outside. The remaining group seemed somewhat disturbed by Jeff’s previous comments, but no one said anything. Bored with the inside group, I got up and went outside to talk with Jeff.
Outside, Jeff and I started talking and it didn’t stop for what seemed like hours. He expressed this very finite idea of good and bad. He thought that every thought in a person’s mind was either a good thought, from God, or a bad thought, from Satan, and his goal was to eliminate all the bad thoughts, which he considered to be an impossible task. He claimed to be “one of a thousand or so modern day Jesus’,” and that he wanted to help people achieve good. He told me that if he stood in the center with all of his “followers” circled up around him, in numbers according to electron shells, rotating in opposite directions, with only good thoughts in their heads that they could escape. He thought that they could travel through time to a better place. At some point he spoke of being able to perceive things in alternate realities and dimensions. He claimed that the dimension above us had some lizard/insect type creatures that were controlling our dimension. He told me that he was going to build a flying machine made out of a sphere of concrete that was powered only by water.
All night he barraged me with idea after idea. It wasn’t the ideas themselves that were scary; it was his belief in them. His tone of voice was so matter of fact with everything he said. I often questioned his ideas, pointing out obvious inconsistencies; but instead of losing faith in his idea, he would come up with some alternate explanation.
When I got home from talking with him, it didn’t seem real. I had a very difficult time convincing myself that all of our conversation had just happened; it was just so out of the ordinary. He seemed so delusional. It made me feel worried for him; I thought that maybe he had some type of mental illness. Yet there was always that thought in the back of my mind that said, ”Well, he has different perceptions than the rest of us, but does that mean he is wrong, is he greater than I? Should I feel worried for him, or jealous of his new abilities?” It made me wonder if he was somehow enabled to perceive things that the rest of us could not; or if it was all just false delusions of his mind that disabled him from perceiving what “normal” people do.
The following day when I saw Jeff, he was telling me about a lady bug that had landed on his hand that morning. He claimed that this lady bug, “taught him Tai Chi” and then it exploded into a flash of blue streaks. He really believes all of the things he perceives (much like the rest of us) he just appears to be perceiving something extra, something wholly different from the perception of the average individual.
He is quite fond of psychedelic drugs, which may have exacerbated his condition. Yet ever since that first night that I talked with him, that’s what I have viewed it as, a condition. I could be wrong, he may not have any diagnosable mental ailment. The possibility that he could have been under the influence of psychedelics at the time of his bizarre antics has crossed my mind. I even pondered the possibility that it was all an act.
Yet, what is one to do? This man of 22, who is intelligent, and just on the brink of life, has made me ponder his sanity. On the handful of occasions that I have seen him since those delusional episodes, he has seemed relatively normal. Although, if he continues to experience delusional thoughts, could he be dangerous to others?
Despite having known Jeff for many years, we have never been that close, and it makes me feel that I am not in the best of positions to pursue help for his sake. I have expressed my concerns to those closer to Jeff, and they have responded with concerns of their own. I feel that everyone is quite unsure what is going on with Jeff, but that many have a watchful eye on him. No one wants to betray Jeff’s trust by directly telling him that they think he may delusional, because once it’s out, you can never go back. Yet if his delusional behavior continues, someone, perhaps I, will have to confront him and try to convince him to seek professional help.