“I know that if I was able to overcome everything I went through in the past years, I can overcome anything.”
Courtney was 20 years old when she started hearing voices. At first, she didn’t understand why she could hear things that no one else could. Then the hallucinations started. Not understanding what was happening, Courtney became paranoid and overwhelmed. Her symptoms quickly worsened and at times she even experienced thoughts of suicide.
“My symptoms were severe, and it was really scary,” said Courtney. “I was delusional. I was hearing voices. I was paranoid and suicidal. I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know what to do.”
For the next five years, Courtney’s life was a tumultuous roller coaster of misdiagnoses, failed treatments, and housing insecurity. Her family was ill-equipped to handle the sudden onset of her life-changing symptoms. She bounced around from family member to family member, sometimes staying with her uncle, sometimes her grandfather, and sometimes her mother. These stints never lasted long as her untreated symptoms would flare, often resulting in hospitalization and then a new living situation.
“I felt lost during that time,” said Courtney. “Eventually I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I tried different medications and programs, but nothing seemed to help. That’s why I was so skeptical when I first came to Step Up.”
Trusting Step Up proved to be a pivotal step in Courtney’s recovery journey. She began receiving treatment through Step Up’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program after becoming stably housed at an adult residential facility. She was connected with a dedicated case worker, therapist, and support staff who provided transportation to her doctor’s appointments and helped her find a new medication that actually worked.
“I had this lightbulb moment after meeting Step Up: there’s still hope,” said Courtney.
With the proper treatment and a dedicated support team, Courtney started to believe that her future could be brighter. Step Up helped her develop a self-care and hygiene routine, practice social interactions, and explore new hobbies.
“I became more independent and started setting goals for myself,” said Courtney. “The first was to get a job and Step Up helped me do that.”
After her job, came a second job. Then Courtney started going back to school. She began studying psychology. She reunited with her family and started to rebuild the relationships that had been damaged earlier in her life.
In 2023, 10 years after she first experienced the onset of schizophrenic symptoms, Courtney moved out of the adult residential facility and into an apartment of her very own. She’s now working full-time and still going to school. She volunteers at an after-school program to help at-risk children.
“I’m so proud of myself,” said Courtney. “I’ve accomplished a lot, and without my past experiences, I might never have done that. I still focus on taking things one day at a time, but I feel supported and secure. I know that if I was able to overcome everything I went through in the past years, I can overcome anything.”
If you would like to support more people like Courtney on their healing journey, please make a donation at www.stepup.org/donate