Javon, Age 32
I’ve always known that my brain worked a little differently than most people in the world. I was diagnosed at age 20 with Schizoaffective Disorder, but I had known for a long time that there was something different about the way I saw the world. Once, when I was about 8, I vividly remember thinking “Wow, I’m going to need psych meds when I grow up.” And it really caused me a lot of pain throughout my teen years. I felt like my brain was not forming complete thoughts because it was hurting so badly.
In some ways I felt very alone. But I also had a lot of what I call “telepathic” friends – I had a very vivid inner mental life, and yes, I imagined a lot of things. Whether they were true or not isn’t really the point, it was one of the things that really helped me get through and helped me to realize that even though I was different, I was still special. But at the same time, it was sometimes very scary.
Receiving my diagnosis was hard, but it was also showed me that there wasn’t something “wrong” with me – instead, I finally knew that I had an illness and I could get help for it. After my diagnosis, I began feeling like I could feel love for others in the world without it hurting me.
Right after I was diagnosed, I started getting treatment at Touchstone Health Partners. When I started, I was destitute and had no way to take care of myself. But Touchstone saved my life. I finally got the medications and therapy that I needed. And at the residential center I lived at, I learned to interact and care about others. This helped me learn that I could also take care of myself.
A few years later, I started getting involved at Spirit Crossing Clubhouse. The Clubhouse is a place where consumers of Touchstone can become members and get help with school, employment, or volunteering. When I first went to Spirit Crossing Clubhouse, I was in so much pain, I could barely function in the world. Everyone at Spirit Crossing helped me gain the self respect I needed to get back into the world in a productive way. As importantly, it helped me realized that I was not alone … that I was more than OK just the way I am.
Now, I’m living in my own apartment and have a job. I’m active at the Clubhouse, and I am keeping up with my treatment at Larimer Center. I see a therapist, and I get my medications from their psychiatrist.
Medications for my illness have been one of the most changing and helpful things in my lifetime. They haven’t taken away who I am. They’ve just given me a healthy way of dealing with the special way I think and see the world without having to be terrified.