I came to Prague in February 1999 with the feeling that I was at the peak of my personal and professional success. Having earned an MBA with excellent academic performance, I was going to join one of the prestigious multinational management and business consulting firms. Thanks to this position I got among the best-paid people in the Czech Republic, but also in VIP social circles. I was 25 years old and the years of hard work seemed to be paying off, and everything I ever wanted was within reach. I was absolutely satisfied with my life and I certainly did not know that in a few years I will meet such a deep psychological crisis from which the escape will be unimaginable for me.
I was born in 1974 in Pilsen to working parents. I had a happy and carefree childhood, I had good grades, lots of friends, I did a lot of sports. I tried to play hockey and football, but finally, I decided to play tennis at the age of six. This sport then fulfilled and influenced my life for a long time. Just as important as spending time on the playground, it was good for me to learn and enjoy my parents.
In 1984, my parents decided to emigrate to Canada, where they expected a better and freer life. There I continued to play tennis and maintain my good school performance and in 1992, I received a tennis scholarship at the University of Florida. This was followed by another 6 years of tennis and good grades. I finished my studies first with an MBA and a perfect average of 4.00 GPA (in the Czech environment this would be equivalent to an average of 1.00).
Due to my childhood spent in the Czech Republic, I adapted well after returning to Prague. I knew Czech, I enjoyed culture and entertainment, I met new people. And thanks to the good earnings I could really enjoy it in Prague. Despite all these achievements, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore my anxiety about contact with women.
Before I came to Prague, I successfully avoided any situation in which I could get close to an attractive woman. I kept thinking to myself: "Focus on tennis, focus on study, time for women will come". It was really hard when a woman really intrigued me but I believed it was in my best interest. However, in Prague, where there is a great concentration of beautiful and interesting women, I soon found out that I did not know what to do in their presence. I always panicked, froze, and fled as quickly as possible. Still, I kept telling myself, "Your time will come".
When I was in Prague for three years, I moved from a consultant position to a less demanding but also a less prestigious position in the marketing department of a telecommunications company. During this period it began to draw attention to another neglected aspect of my life, my health. I had problems with stomach ulcers and cardiac arrhythmias already in college, but I perceived them as an unpleasant distraction on the way to my goals and managed to suppress their manifestations with medication. This time, however, the health problems hit me much harder and it was increasingly difficult to ignore them.
Znova a znova vybuchovaly, prořezávaly si cestu mým mozkem, až jsem byl vyděšen k nepříčetnosti.
Then one day I got an email from a friend that I laughed at first and didn't give him any importance. But its content kept me busy until I thought of anything else. I was so sick of my stomach that I couldn't eat a bite for several days. The friend wrote to me that he has known me for a long time and thinks that the reason for my nervousness in the presence of women is that I am gay and I do not know yet. Such a theory never came to my mind but after some time only the possibility of being gay made it impossible for me to function in the world. I could only think of what my surroundings would think of me if I was really gay, and how the hell do I find it out?
These thoughts plunged me into a bad state but in about a week I encountered another shocking experience, so strange and incomprehensible that it resulted in a crisis that seemed hopeless.
It happened one evening after I called my mother as usual. Suddenly black fireworks exploded in the middle of my head. It wasn't something I could see outside my body, it was something that took place with great intensity right inside my skull. They exploded, again and again, cutting my way through my brain until I was terrified of insanity. "What the hell is going on with me?" I thought. "Have I gone crazy?" This experience was all the more frightening to me because I appreciated myself especially for my ability to control things. There were really strange things going on inside my head, and the more I tried to control it, the worse it was. With the increasing intensity of black fireworks, my heart was beating more and more, and I felt that I might be vomiting. Somehow I got into the bathroom and put cold water on my face. I had to hold on not to fall. Then I said to myself, "Hold on tonight and tomorrow I will go to a psychiatrist." But the thought crept through my back door: “What will everyone think of me if they learn about this? Maybe I'm homosexual and now this? How should I return to normal life? ”
The next day I stumbled to work where a strange, menacing and seemingly inexplicable process continued. To the exploding fireworks, red turbines were added, which rotated inside my head. And then they were joined by huge gears that continued to spin. And finally, the clown appeared and started laughing and dancing inside my skull. While I was trying to come up with any reasonable explanation of what was happening, the only reason I was thinking was that I was totally crazy. I would never have imagined that I would ever feel like this but I was looking forward to the afternoon meeting with a psychiatrist.
Consultation with a psychiatrist brought me relief because he assured me that I was not crazy. On the other hand, the outlook that the psychiatrist outlined to me was also not the most severe because, in addition to the high anxiety and nervousness, I was suffering from "obsessive thoughts and panic". As a treatment, he offered me the psycho-drugs Zoloft and Neurol and at the same time recommended me to find a psychologist and work with them to relieve anxiety and nervousness. When I confided to him about my gay problem, he just said, "You are not a homosexual, so let it out of your head."
I picked up the medication immediately and intended to start taking it from the next morning. But one part of me was not convinced that medication was the best way to deal with this problem. My presumption was confirmed the next day when half an hour after taking the first dose of medicine, I vomited again. At that moment, my situation seemed absolutely hopeless. Fireworks, wheels, and turbines bore unbearably into my mind, I felt terribly mentally and physically, and the medication did not seem to be the right solution - "WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO ME", I shouted silently inside my own head...
Later that day, fortunately, I drove a car with a friend I trusted so much that I confided in my experiences to him. My friend also didn't think I was crazy and also thought medication wasn't right for me. He told me he was asking for acquaintances and would recommend a reliable professional to talk to me about. The next day I received an SMS: "Call Mr. Vancura on this number, he should be able to help you".
The meeting with Mr. Vancura changed my life because it was the beginning of a wonderful journey of self-discovery. As part of this process of self-discovery, I began to find out which parts I suppress, how I relate to the world (and outside it), and most importantly, I began to experience the real joy of life. A key element of the therapeutic process was the reworking of experience, that I first considered pathological, into an opportunity for self-examination and then to treat. We did not try to suppress these symptoms. On the contrary, we tried to work through them to the deeper roots of my special experience. As a result, I started to live a much happier, and fuller life than I had ever dreamed of.
I have experienced both fear and joy on my journey of self-discovery but the most beautiful thing is that the process of self-discovery never ends…