Personal Update – Realization

When I was 15, in high school, my mom was a college teacher at MSU-N in Havre, Montana. They decided to axe their drafting program and I believe they wanted her to start teaching classes less related to drafting, which she didn’t want. She loves drafting, always has and always will, it’s one of her passions. So she applied for non-teaching drafting positions around the state and landed a job in Missoula, which moved us there in late 2013.

I started 10th grade in Havre to complete my first semester. My mom started her job in January of 2014 I think, so she went to Missoula sometime in December, if I remember right. I think I remember staying in Havre for a couple more weeks to organize finishing the semester with Havre High early so I could settle in in Missoula before starting at Sentinel High School in January. My teachers and the faculty were all cool with it, some gave me some unique assignements to replace finals, and I completed those before the semester ended.

My bad psychotic episode started in September of 2013, still in Havre months before we were moving. I don’t think I even knew we were moving yet at that point. I started hearing more voices, they were coming in between my friends and me, they hated my boyfriend at the time and convinced me to push him away too. It gradually worsened, and I casually mentioned the voices to my mom. My brother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia before that, so when I mentioned hearing voices, she freaked out a bit and immediately scheduled to get me in with a doctor (I don’t know if it was a psychiatrist or a therapist or what), but Havre is a small town with very limited mental health resources. When I looked on PsychologyToday for a friend recently, I didn’t see any psychiatrists in Havre, so basically you would need to schedule either online or in-person with someone in Great Falls, about 110 miles away, to see a licensed psychiatrist.

That psychologist immediately told us that I didn’t have schizophrenia and basically turned us away. I don’t remember much of that, I just know it was one and done with her, and my symptoms continued to worsen.

After I moved to Missoula, the voices had essentially already split my boyfriend, who was starting college at UM in Missoula the next semester, and me up. When I was with him, the voices screamed at me about him. They poisoned me against him to the point that being around him made me want to split my ribcage open with a hammer and rip out my heart. It was physically painful. I broke up with him, which left me alone with the voices. I wasn’t that close to any of my family, especially with the voices telling me I couldn’t trust them. I just wanted to hide, so I stayed in my room. Once I was alone, the voices attacked me, making me want to hide even more, so I did. As time went on, I lost more and more of my life and myself until there was essentially nothing left. A psychologist in Missoula diagnosed me with schizophrenia, depression, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.

This combination actually doesn’t really exist because if you have schizophrenia and a mood disorder, it’s schizoaffective disorder, and I actually exhibit bipolar symptoms rather than exclusively depression symptoms, so it was a little off the mark, but with some of the same treatment. The medication calmed things down a bit, at least with the voices via the antipsychotics, but a lot of damage had been done, and I was very broken. I’m still trying to recover, and the grand finale of that was about 8 years ago.

For a long time, I thought that it wouldn’t have gone down that way if we hadn’t moved away from Havre. Eventually, I realized that it had started before we moved, and I probably could have expected it to happen even if we’d stayed. The only difference is that the school system in Havre would have probably worked with me on it even without me disclosing diagnoses or experiences to them. The faculty knew and loved me, I increased their test scores, didn’t cause trouble with teachers or other students, I managed very high grades despite very spotty attendance.

I’d had troubles with attendance for various reasons since about 4th grade, but since they knew my two older brothers and my mom already, and they saw how well I performed in school (I was even in the Gifted and Talented program, which 5 of our class of 120 kids were in including me), they basically just let it slide. Maybe that would have changed later in high school I guess, but this is also the school that allowed me to miss the last month of my 9th grade year for decompression surgery for Chiari malformation without doing additional schoolwork or taking finals. I really don’t think they cared much about my attendance if I kept my grades and test scores up and didn’t cause any trouble.

Sentinel was different. They called my mom in during my first semester to tell her I wouldn’t graduate with my poor attendance. I ended up withdrawing from there after the spring 2014 semester and enrolling in an online program instead, which I barely finished before starting college, which was ultimately just as bad.

Anyway, for a long time I thought it would have been better if I hadn’t left Havre. Then I realized that the mental illness would still have hurt me, and even if school hadn’t been as affected, I still would have lost a lot, including myself. Going off to college would have resulted in the same disastrous events except I would have been farther away from my mom and home.

I’m currently visiting Havre to see my old and new friends who still live here. As I sat at a park today (there isn’t much to do when your friends are all at work) I realized another thing about all of that. That doctor in Havre had dismissed my symptoms right from the start. There may not have really been someone else for us to see. I would not have been diagnosed and thus would not have been medicated. Keeping this in mind, it occurred to me that moving to Missoula, which had better mental health resources, as it’s about 7 times bigger than Havre, may have saved my life by allowing me to get treatment, which is probably the only thing that stopped me from committing suicide. I had lost myself so much, and I was constantly terrified of everything and everyone. I self-harmed already, really it would have only been another step to me.

These are just some thoughts I had today that make me feel better about having moved. Even if it made me sad, it might be the only reason I’m still here. It took me 8 years to realize that.

Published by Rawry

I'm just a writer and gamer living in the middle of nowhere..

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