Growing up I was a fairly quiet person I was bubbly on the outside, however I felt down and depressed on the inside. I graduated from High School and continued on to college to begin a program in parks & recreation. This was my first experience living away from home I was 18 years old.
At school I was very active I participated in canoeing, hiking and took part in the skiing team. I won two awards for balancing academics’ with extracurricular activities. I was very high on life and felt on top of the world; looking back I realize that I may have been manic at this time. My second year in the Parks & Recreation program I seemed to have lost my passion for college and regularly thought that my classmates were plotting against me. I felt worthless and depressed, this caused me to quit my program and return home. I felt like a failure, I became increasingly obsessed with religion and I would not talk or eat. I felt as though I was being prepared for something big. Soon I became afraid to talk or make decisions.
On our way to the hospital the signs which show the H (which leads people to the hospital) stood out to me but in a different way, my perception of its meaning was that the H = Hell this scared me more than anything. When we arrived at the hospital there were hardly any vehicles in the parking lot and it seemed there was no staff or other people around, the world seemed desolate. I thought that the rapture had happened.
I was very frightened I thought I was evil and was going to be punished. I was placed in a small room with a little door in it, my mind told me to open the door and all would be okay. I had contradictory thoughts which told me that the door was a trick and that I had to suffer. I was afraid my doctor was my judge because his name consisted of two biblical names.
One day while I was in the hospital a big man with a cane was walking down the hallway of the ward; I became frightened that he was going to harm someone I loved. I went running down the hallway screaming, the nurses intervened and grabbed me to sedate me and take me to my room. I was incredibly terrified and confused! I was hospitalized many times after this and had trouble keeping a job; I regularly thought that I was a horrible worker and that people were talking about me. (This was not true in reality I had many compliments). I decided to return to school with a more manageable course load and graduated with honors, although I continued to experience depression and found it difficult to believe that I was a good person.
Soon I was chatting with members regularly and learned the value of peer support. After a year of volunteering and much encouragement I welcomed the opportunity of the Peer Support Coordinator position which involves facilitating Unsung Heroes and providing peer telephone support. I have learned that because of my lived experience with schizophrenia and recovery, I am able to empower and support others in their recovery journey. Today I can honestly say that I am a person living with schizoaffective disorder who is on a journey of recovery. I have meaningful work, a fantastic family, a great boyfriend and loyal friends who have loved me though it all!