Let me begin this next chapter of my testimony to describe how I felt when I came home from being on the road for the last 20 months. I was so grateful to be with my family again and I was at peace for the most part when I arrived. I continued to seek God in prayer and I could feel the presence of His Holy Spirit. The memories I had of our time alone in the desert were more precious to me than any gift I could ever receive. As painful as it all was, I understood that God had used the time and my need for Him to form a relationship and to teach me to trust in Him alone. Even now, as I sit here writing this, I cannot quite describe or recreate the feelings that I had for The Lord when I came home from my travels or the memories of the trials He had seen me through. On the other hand Peter, I was still sick and spiritually immature, even though at first my illness or demons were in hiding to some degree. They would ultimately manifest themselves very powerfully through marijuana and accidental witchcraft in the guise of artwork. Let me explainÖ
The first few weeks at home I rested and reconnected with all of my family. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all came to see me and welcome me home. It felt good to be home again. What everyone thought I donít know, nobody really asked where I had been or what had happened to me. I guess thatís because there was a history of mental illness in the family that no explanation was needed. I donít know what everyone thought of me, but I do know that I felt a lot of love. I also knew from experience that it was best not to talk about the delusions or the strange thoughts that I knew I alone was having. I knew I was crazy, but I also believed a lot of what I knew was crazy. I was also rational enough to know that others would not believe the insane thoughts that I kept hidden.
At first I went to the doctor and tried to go on medication, but the side effects were too much, especially feeling sedated and tired. For days all I did was lay on the couch and sleep, so I just stopped taking it. Besides, I really didnít believe that I was ill.
I tried to go back to work for my father. I worked about three weeks in downtown Washington D.C. as a laborer on a construction site. And then one day I had this really intense psychotic episode on the jobsite and just walked off again and wandered round the Mall all day. I knew what time my father got off work. He was at a site nearby so at 3:30 I met him at his truck and I told him what happened. We agreed that I should go to the hospital. So I went voluntarily this time and stayed for a few days. Enough time for them to put me on Lithium.
So I went home to my parentsí place and had to apply for disability to pay for my hospital bills. I had a lot of idle time on my hands since I couldnít work while I waited to hear from Social Security. I did a lot of chores around the house for a while like chopping wood and mowing and I tried to help keep up with the cleaning as well for a while.
My brothers both liked to smoke weed so naturally when they came home from work we would often smoke together and hang out. About that time in late September, after I was released from the hospital I started getting involved in these little ďart projects.Ē I would combine drawings, photographs, and other little thing like the feathers, insects, snake skins, or what have you that I had found on the road or outside at my parentsí place. I was into cutting these little mementos up and then gluing them together to make these collages. I found myself getting kind of absorbed into the artwork as though there were answers to the riddles in my mind within the artwork itself.
Before long I started on this really major collage. I used a 4íx 8í sheet of plywood as a canvas and I started cutting up all the photographs that I had from years of shooting. In the center of the piece was a self portrait of my face and built around that was like different themes that represented the different thoughts that I had in my mind. It was a very subjective piece of art that I became obsessed with. I began smoking a lot of pot and listening to music on my head phones. I spent hours every day building this mammoth collage that kept changing and growing. I spent like 5 months in my parentsí basement working on this giant collage that was like looking into a mirror and seeing the disturbed thoughts within. Only my family saw it and my parents pretty much ignored it. Some of my brotherís friends saw it though and I think they were a little shocked and disturbed by it; but Iím not really sure what their thoughts were.
Peter, I know you understand, too, a little about being fascinated by objects and how our minds can become obsessed and intrigued by them. When I said before that what I was doing was a kind of accidental witchcraft, perhaps now you understand what I mean. It was kind of like the sorcererís stone and the marijuana. I opened a door for the demonic and what happened over those six months was that I turned more and more away from God and became self obsessed and absorbed into the intrigue of my creative obsession of my soul.
Sometimes in the Spring of 2002, I awoke from the slumber and the power of the spell I was under. I felt the condemnation from what I had performed and Whom I had forgotten. I took my collage; I cut it up with a circular saw and I stuffed it all into the woodstove and watched it burn. I took all of the photographs and the negatives I had left from years of work and I put them in garbage bags and threw them away. I sat there in the basement and cried to God and asked for forgiveness; but the voice of the accuser prevailed for a time. I quit smoking marijuana and I began asking God to restore me.
I needed something constructive to do with my time, so my brother got me a job landscaping with him. That was probably in April or May. I thought I worked there for 3 or 4 months before I became so ill again that I quit in July. When I say I became ill again I mean really sick physically and mentally. I felt condemnation constantly in my mind and spirit. The delusions of persecution returned and I was being haunted once again by nightmarish visions. Every time I read the Bible the voice of the accuser condemned me and told me that I was fallen Israel in exile Ė forsaken and rejected by God. I had a vision one day while I was outside praying in my yard that I had the mark of the beast in my forehead. The demons present could be felt physically as well in my body. I know and I am familiar with the feelings one has in their body when there is a possession.
I refused to accept the fact that God had left me so I started going on long walks begging God to restore me with His presence. I walked to Baltimore one time, I walked for days into Pennsylvania another; and every time I would be gone for days, but I would always call my parents to have them come and get me. I was trying to leave, to go back out onto the road where I had found God before but I had no strength, no supernatural strength, as I had before, but I was desperate Ė so desperate for my Heavenly Father.
Joshua's Odyssey Map