Q & A With Matt McBride April 2001

Following is an edited transcript of a videotaped interview with Matt McBride, conducted in April 2001 at the Fulton State Hospital. Filmmaker Art Holliday questioned Matt.

  • Q. Matt tell me why you consented to take part in the documentary.
    Matt: The reason I decided to participate is to get the people aware of the stigma of mental illness. When I was a kid I had no idea what mental illness was. When my family first put me in the hospital I didn’t want to go. I thought they were crazy.
  • Q. What do you want people to know?
    Matt: That we’re everyday normal people. We’re human beings just like everybody else but we have a disease. what I want them to know is about the disease. See, I didn’t listen to anybody. I never took my medication. I mean I took it for awhile then I threw it in the sink and say ‘I took it’.
  • Q. Why did you do that?
    Matt: I thought that it made me impotent. Impotency is one of the side effects. gain weight, there’s been many books and many articles about what medication does to you. I didn’t want to take it (medication). I wish I did. but I didn’t and then everything just kind of fell apart. I wanted to take it but I didn’t know where to go. If you’re 24 years old and you come into a place like this. All over the radio, all over the tv, everything you’ve ever known is taken away, everything in your life….I was suicidal. I didn’t care if I lived or died. That was just the bottom line, I didn’t care about anything and I was very sick. And now the medication has helped me rationalize and think better and do things better. It’s like I grew up.
  • Q. Can you describe what it is like to have schizophrenia?
    Matt: If you took all the street drugs, like acid, marijuana, a lot of alcohol, a fifth of Jim Beam or whatever, you took ten hits of LSD, a whole ounce of marijuana, all at the same time. Your head was spinning, you’re a plane, loop-de-loop. You had this feeling, you’re puking left and right. I was puking. Before I came in the hospital, I puked for a month and a half. I didn’t know what was right, I had an IV in my arm, Not only was I mentally sick, I was physically sick. I was very, whew, I was pretty messed up. And it was hell.I remember sitting there and these voices would be going in my head is going back and forth and I’m standing still. I was just….whew. and nothing was right. My whole sense of reality was not there. It was chaos. It was just hell. And if anybody experiences it. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

I believed the whole school read my mind. And I’d be walking down the hall. I’d be so nervous and so withdrawn, I felt like the whole school, why are you doing this? I wouldn’t talk to anybody. I be walking down the hall, I’d be paranoid. I wouldn’t hear the voices, I’d hear a word. I thought they were all reading my mind and I couldn’t read theirs.

It backfired, a total complete turnaround. It got worse and worse and worse and worse and I remember that one time I had a dream. I was halfway sleep and halfway awake. Out of the clear blue I was sitting there and why don’t I have better imagination? Why can’t I have imagination like all my friends? They talk to me through the mind. Why don’t they give me telepathic powers? Bam, light hit my eyes. Just like I’m looking at that with my eyes closed and I can see picture perfect.

You’d hear the voices and think they were talking to you telepathy-wise through telekineses. And I’m thinking they can read my mind and I can’t read theirs and they’re hearing everything and feeling everything. And these guys are telling them what I’m thinking and I was very paranoid. I had a feeling inside my head of helplessness. I couldn’t ….my heart would start beating like a panic attack. Now, I’m on Xyprexia, I’m on valpuric acid, I’m on Zoloft, I still have the delusion of many people reading my mind, me not being able to read theirs. The medication and the program has both helped me very much.

  • Q. Talk about Dr. Elaine Larson (Matt’s psychologist for over five years at the Fulton State Hospital)
    Matt: Elaine has helped me out tremendously. She has taken her knowledge of the what the disease is and how the human mind works and all the studies she’s read, I think she has a Ph.d. or something. She’s really intelligent and she analyzes it and breaks it down and basically she can just tell you this is what this is, this is not true, this is false. Q. Will you miss working with her? Matt: She’s very dear to me. I love her. She’s helped me big-time. I don’t know how to explain it, but every step of the way she’s talked with me and explained. all my problems I’ve talked to her about all the years of my life. And she just listens. She’s a good friend.
  • Q. What has your brother’s support meant to you?
    Matt: Oh, I love my brother. He’s my number one person. I really do love him. My family has stuck behind me 110 percent. You can’t ask for a greater family. I really miss him. He’s a hell of a brother. Best brother on earth, best brother on earth. He helped you out. He’s a good guy. he really is. I think the world of him, let’s put it that way.
  • Q. When did you start playing the drums?
    Matt: I started playing when I was 18. I said I was either going to work out or play drums, and I said I’m not going to work out, it’s too hard, so I played drums. Cause it’s too hard to do both, cause you’d work out and your arms would get tired and you couldn’t play right, if you played drums before you worked out your arms would be tired because you played drums. I couldn’t do both at the same time so I just played drums and I really grew a fascination for ’em. I hope someday, Neil Parrett if you’re looking at me, I want to take your position. I shouldn’t have said that but I’m sorry.
  • Q. Who’s Neil Parrett?
    Matt: Neil Parrett is the drummer of Rush. He’s my idol.
  • Q. Did you play in a band?
    Matt: Well, actually I had never played with other musicians. I had always played to an album. I turned on my compact disc and plugged in my headset, put em on, turn on my Yamaha amp and rock out to Rush and Megadeth and all that crap. I loved it because I was pretty good at it.
  • Q. Tell me about playing in a combo here at the hospital.
    Matt: The combo that I’m in, the music teachers are Robin Gordon and Terry… I can’t remember her last name, she has the hardest last name to remember. They went to school for four years and they got their musician’s degree. They can play piano, bass, guitar. What I’ve learned from them is cooperation, commitment, confidence and communication abilities. It was a team effort that’s what they were trying to teach us, a team effort in order to accomplish a goal and the goal was to accomplish a song. And it didn’t really matter how hard you played it or how fast you played it, it just mattered if you held the basic beat. You did what you liked and you were happy with it.
  • Q. I’m looking forward to hearing you play.
    Matt: I may let you down. I may let you down man. I’ll try my hardest. If she lets me I will. I’ll try it.
  • Q. Do you think you’ve come a long way in seven years?
    Matt: Yeah, I have come a long, long way. Like I said, I was very, very suicidal. Man I was just … my thoughts and everything were just so disproportionate. I thought the drummer from Rush, Neil Parrett was having some kind of sexual contact with my girlfriend or something. I was so out of bounds, so out of….Now I look at it as it’s impossible. Nobody can read minds. I keep telling myself that but sometimes it comes back still. The voices were finally getting so bad I dropped out of college and things just went to hell. things got bad. things just went haywire.
  • Q. Do you think you’ll ever be voice free?
    Matt: Yeah I think I will be. Maybe in 30 years, I’ll have enough experience under my belt that I can ignore everything. As long as I don’t have that feeling. If I have that feeling, if I have that paranoid feeling in my head. If you’ve got that emotion and you still don’t hear the voices you’re still sick.
  • Q. You’re going to have roommates starting tomorrow. How do you think that’s going to be?
    Matt: Very interesting. I just hope they don’t snore. Hope they don’t snore or have smelly feet, that’s all I care about. No smelly feet and no snoring please.