When Your TV Talks to You

Michael Hedrick
July 15, 2016  | Last Updated: July 15, 2016


I can remember way back at the beginning of my illness, schizophrenia. I was pretty much a hermit, and my paranoia kind of put the kibosh on leaving my house. My mind was wild, though, and I was thinking all sorts of crazy stuff. Chief among those thoughts was the notion that the TV was talking to me personally. 


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It’s kind of hard to explain but it’s as if every commercial, every Senate hearing on C-SPAN, and every show was making parallels to my life. I took it one one step farther though, and began to connect all these parallels. It became pretty clear to me that between the connections I was making and the things the TV was saying, there were messages hidden in plain sight. I called it “reading between the lines,” and I’d sit there for days trying to decipher the messages that the TV and the radio were feeding me (not unlike the plot of A Beautiful Mind). If there was a commercial for cheap flights, it was telling me to go somewhere. If it was a commercial for a weight loss pill, it was telling me to work on my health. Normally and in completely sane people, these commercials wouldn’t mean a thing, but my mind, as it was, was trying desperately to make sense of the things that were happening to it and in the fog I started to personalize everything the TV was saying. 

This led to some grandiosity, as I mentioned last time, because why would the government and the media be talking specifically to me unless I was extremely important. The truth of the matter is that I was pretty dangerously delusional, and I was searching in vain to find some connection somewhere to tell me that I wasn’t crazy. These connections led to some pretty insane theories on my part, and the fact that the TV was talking to me was just one cog in a vast complicated clockwork of what exactly was going through my mind. 


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The truth is, this symptom has been a common one for people with schizophrenia and psychosis for a long time, and if I just knew that one reality it would’ve made me a lot less sure that I was a prophet tasked with saving the world. I would’ve asked for help had I known that the things I thought I was experiencing were just functions of delusions and psychosis. 

There’s a long history of making connections like this, though. If I tell you anything important it’s that that phenomenon is just a symptom of mental illness. I’ve been there and so have a lot of other people. The weird thing is, our brains look for patterns, and in the midst of psychosis we’re a lot more diligent about trying to find patterns because we just want something, anything, to make sense. 

It’s terrifying not to be able to trust the things your mind is telling you, and we all automatically try to find sense in things that are meaningless. That’s what confusion does, though; it tricks you into thinking that something’s happening when it’s really not. 

Psychosis is just a major case of confusion, and when your brain is saying things that don’t make sense you’ll do everything in your power to logic out what’s happening, and sometimes that means perceiving that you’re receiving secret messages via the media. 

Truthfully, I know what it’s like. You’re not alone, and you should never think that you are. If you’re having trouble it’s ok to talk to someone you trust. They might not understand, but hopefully they’ll get you to someone who can help. 


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