TIMB Boise 2019 – Braden Platt

December 9, 2019

Two years ago, I would have introduced myself fairly differently than I will introduce myself to you today Maybe that’s because two years ago. I was in one of the darkest and scariest holes I have ever been in throughout my life Maybe it’s because climbing out of that hole has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do Maybe it’s because I’ve changed so much in the past two years. I wouldn’t even be able to recognize myself if I looked back It’s all just part of my story. So I guess I will just say hello My name is Braden Platt. I have schizoaffective disorder and this is my story. To get started I guess I should explain what schizoaffective disorder is to any of you who don’t know schizoaffective disorder is essentially a mix of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder or a mood disorder accompanied with psychosis This has obviously created some very difficult obstacles for me throughout my life Today, I’m hoping to share some of them with you But you see it’s incredibly hard for me to tell my story to people like this Partly because I’m very uncomfortable talking about it. But also because I don’t really know where my obstacles begin. I don’t even know when the hallucinations started or when my experiences with schizoaffective disorder truly started to affect me I can never tell the doctors when my hallucinations first started probably long before my memory stretches But I guess I should start at the time when I realized something was off in my life That something made me different from everyone else around me So I will start in the sixth grade. The year I realized the world wasn’t what it seemed Growing up I always had a lot of friends I was incredibly social and loved interacting with anyone I met This would change later in my life But when I was younger, I tended to have a large group of friends around me a clique all grouped around the seemingly joyful child Braden Blatt But you see, I always had these two very special friends. They were never not around me and I mean never Every class at school, band concert, swim practice. You name it? They were there. Any place any time. My absolute two best friends But I didn’t really talk to other people about them much It was the third day of sixth grade when I realized something was off about what was going on with them It was odd. All of a sudden. I became painstakingly aware that other people couldn’t see them Having a mental illness didn’t even cross my mind at the time Honestly, I didn’t think much of it when I figured it out. They weren’t real. So what? I mean you all know as well as I do. They don’t teach these things in school They are too important I guess But to me, it didn’t matter Megan and Stephen were my absolute two best friends and I love them so much. I cannot begin to describe how strongly I felt for these two human beings Because to me they were real As real as the person sitting next to you right now Remember that for this next part? Seventh grade was when I had my entire world shatter around me Seventh grade was the first time I ever contemplated killing myself Seventh grade was the first time I had ever been outcasted at school It was the first time I had ever been so depressed I didn’t want to come up every time I dove into the water during swim practice And it all started that one horrific day Me and Steven came home from school happy as ever, excited to go out and play basketball that afternoon but as we burst into my room we saw a horrific scene that is still burned and etched into my memory a Memory that still haunts my nightmares to this day. I will never forget. I will never be the same And I will never understand why it had to happen It was Megan She was lying lifelessly limp on the floor. The rusted spoon was still on my next nightstand next to the bic lighter The syringe was still plunged into her forearm and as she laid there with her eyes rolled back into her head, I realized She wasn’t breathing. In fact, everything was still warm when we got there She was lying on her back and vomit ran from her mouth onto my room floor She was still clutching the bag of heroin in her left hand. She had overdosed My absolute best friend and not on accident Trust me. I read the letter and so did Steven goodbye, I Could have done more for her I could have saved her Steven thought the exact same thing I did You could have done more to save her From that day on Steven was my worst nightmare he abused me constantly, physically and verbally, I remember to this day just lying over her stony lifeless body and sobbing I remember shaking and just praying to any God that would hear me to bring her back So I could say goodbye and see her one last time. I also remember not being able to say goodbye as Steven grabbed me by my feet and violently dragged me out of the room. I remember his fist slamming into my face until I went unconscious And I remember waking up and finding her body and everything else in the room gone. It had disappeared It was a year later that I told my mom about my hallucinations, a year of grief without treatment, a year completely and utterly alone The thing that makes these things so hard is hiding it. I can on any day of the week witness a child being gruesomely murdered Clean up their body and still get up and go to school the next day It’s insanity It’s a repetitive tragedy. It’s not acceptable, but it’s my life After that, I ended up trying to get some real help A few months after we started treating my condition, I became extremely suicidal and I attempted ending it all that got me into what I like to call Hell on Earth, otherwise known as Intermountain Hospital One of the worst experiences in my life but I made it out and I made a promise when I made it out to help people like me and to help people like Meagan I Promised to tell my story You know if I could tell myself from two years ago one thing it would be this: Never be silent Silence is a thing that rules over all of us the fear that if we don’t stay silent We will be locked away, that we will be outcasted, that we will be not under be understood The reality is you don’t need to be understood. You just need to be heard If one person yells first, the others will follow So yell Braden. kill the stigma Tell everyone your story, you have so much to give to someone and I’m not saying it’s easy But it must be done You and the people around you have suffered so long on their own So just promise me one thing. You will climb as high as you can, you will get everyone’s attention and You will yell this phrase to the world: Hello My name is Braden Platt. I have schizoaffective disorder, and this is my story. Thank you You

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