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Goodbye Note from a Recent Lodge Graduate (5-14)

The other day when I was getting ready for my {graduation} day, I was thinking to myself, and I became scared. I was scared for the future and what it would become. This fear was brief, and I am grateful for it due to the thoughts it created. I started thinking about how my journey started. I was a nine year old boy with lots of emotions. This might not have been the beginning of the most intense feelings, but it’s where things got rolling. I felt suicidal, and unsure of myself. My anxiety had gotten the better of me. My parents took me to a nearby hospital where the doctor said, “We are going to send you to a really nice place where people will help you feel better. There are kids like you there.” They planned to send me to a local psychiatric hospital and my mom promised she would meet me there and help me get settled.

None of this could’ve been less true. I arrived at the hospital and was greeted by concrete walls, wire fences and my roommate who came in with handcuffs. There were all of these strange people, nurses and delinquents. Sadly, my mom was not among them. I was on a 72 hour lockdown and I had never felt so alone. I remember little bits and pieces. I remember being shoved in a shower and breaking down. The shower stunk and my situation more so. I sat down and cried. Ten minutes later, the knock on the door woke me up from my state of misery and I realized that I had fooled myself out of fear. I hadn’t even noticed. A week after my admission date, I left that horrible place, but it never left me. It had poisoned me, gave me a taste of what’s to come.

After this my parents brought me to a psychiatrist, “Dr Jones.” I walked in to her house with so much hope, but she immediately crushed that. After talking to me and my parents for a while she boldly pronounced, “Your son clearly has emotional issues and is bipolar. He will never get over this so we need to find the proper medication to fix it.” This might seem over the top, but my mom remembers it this way as well. I had never been so angry. I yelled at her, “I’m not a lab rat, stop treating me like one!” I bolted, but my dad caught me at her gate. He brought me back and I cried.

For four years, she and others prescribed tons of medications. The count at this point falls just short of sixty. Each medication brought on a new personality, never solving any problems but just creating new ones. My mom always introduced medicine with such hope. “I just have a feeling this will work. I just know it.” They never did. This did more harm than good. Taking meds and the idea that they might “cure” me just convinced me I was sick. I saw a painful future, and remembered a painful past. My school work plummeted, as did my attendance.

When I came to the Lodge, I convinced myself that these issues were of long ago, a history half forgotten. I realized now that I’ve only recently changed myself. The kids at the Lodge have only known me as this person, but I’m very aware of who I was and who I am. I’ve gone through hell and came out alive. Definitely not unscathed, if anything the opposite, but not crippled. I am strong and I look to the future now with hope. It’s going to be good because life is good. I would’ve laughed a year ago if I had heard that I’d be saying that now and meaning it. Sometimes I doubt I’ve changed. I shouldn’t.
 

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Forest Heights Lodge has been serving kids and families for over 60 years.