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Facing Arizona: A story about living after being diagnosed with schizophrenia

(KTAR News Photo/Sure Shot Photography)

Editor’s note: Facing Arizona is a series that will appear on KTAR.com and social media  — follow KTAR News on Instagram and Facebook for updates — highlighting unique and everyday people across our state and give you a glimpse into their lives.

I was born in Phoenix, but I grew up in Tempe. I attended McClintock High School and wanted to attend ASU after taking some classes at Mesa Community College.

I was about 19 when I started hearing voices and it wasn’t long after that when I was given the diagnosis of schizophrenia. I tried taking several types of medication to calm the voices, but nothing worked 100 percent.

Worse than that was the way that the medication made me feel. I had no energy or strength and most days felt sick to my stomach. I made the choice for myself to stop taking meds when I was about 24. I was homeless for a few years after that, but I eventually was able to cope enough to hold down day labor work on a consistent basis.

Once I found an apartment I could afford, I got sober. Right now, I do mainly warehouse work. It’s easy for me and I get a chance to be physical every day. That helps me cope with the voices.

On the days I don’t work, I walk to keep my head clear. The hardest thing really is not going back to the alcohol. I go to meetings all the time, that helps as well. It’s no one’s fault that I am this way. It’s just one of those things that happens.

I am thankful that now I have as close to a normal life possible. I see my family on a regular basis and it’s easier for them to deal with me. It would be nice if one day the voices stopped, or they came up with medication that worked without making me feel horrible.

I guess I will keep doing what I do until then. When I walk I see people that are worse than I am, so it helps me stay thankful and reminds me that even though I have it rough, there are always others who have it worse. – Michael

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