After September, things only got worse. I had a large circle of friends and friendly acquaintances in school, and I was close with my family. But the voices got more intense, saying that everyone was lying to me, using me, plotting against me. They told me that I was an experiment, a government secret, that my family knew or were brainwashed. They told me that the world around me was made of paper and I was on a treadmill, being observed in this unmoving box. Luckily the delusions never quite made it all the way through my head, but they sometimes came close.
I was on the volleyball team my freshman year of high school, near the beginning of the school year. I can’t remember if we started practices before the year started or if I missed school one day, but I ended up missing one practice because the voices in my head were screaming at me and I couldn’t get out of bed.
When I went to the next practice and told them why I’d missed the previous day, they scolded me, said I couldn’t play in the next weekend’s games, and proceeded to not let me participate in games for the next three weeks. Most of the other girls on the team didn’t like me and didn’t keep it a secret, so I was always left out, and it made my worsening anxiety act up more. One of my best friends had recently dropped out of band to focus on volleyball. Using wanting to focus on band as an excuse, I quit the volleyball team.
I should have told them what it really was that made me quit. Maybe if I had been diagnosed already or realized the severity of the situation, I would have called them out on it, but I still wasn’t really telling people about what was really going on.
As the weeks went by, I slowly pushed everyone away, withdrawing to isolate myself entirely. I stayed in my room constantly, barely talking to anyone. They told me it was the only way I could be safe, that everyone was going to hurt me and I needed to hide, so I did. I don’t remember much of the next few months except that I no longer had a regular friend group and didn’t leave my house for much at all.
When my mom told me we were moving from Havre to Missoula, I wasn’t exactly pleased about it. It didn’t seem like a huge deal, but I didn’t want to move. I had also played soccer my whole life and was the best defender on the team, so we wanted to keep me playing that. There were soccer try-outs in Missoula. My mom had to work or something, so my grandparents drove me over for them. They were supposed to last for two or three days I think. But when we got there, I wasn’t doing so well.
As we got there, I was already feeling agitated. I was fighting with the voices in my head, they were shouting at me, I couldn’t focus. At the try-outs, I felt so off that I could barely kick the ball. I felt a spike of anxiety and irritation that I’d never really felt before. When my grandparents picked me up after the first day, I told them I couldn’t go to the rest of try-outs and found somewhere to cry by myself. At this time, I also self-harmed by hitting myself as hard as I could. I would do this every time I had an episode, trying to make the thoughts and voices and everything stop.
My grandparents were obviously very upset. They called my mom, she was frustrated. I don’t remember this, but I’ve heard her say that at this time she remembers saying, “You’re not who I thought you were.” I’m glad I don’t remember that. Remembering the voices stealing soccer from me is bad enough. My grandparents drove me home, everyone was upset, I hid.
To be continued…