What would you do if every time you opened your eyes everything seemed as though it was out to get you? Making you feel as though you’re the one who is the basis of everything that’s wrong with the world. What would you do if everything you heard was about you? Criticizing you. Judging you. Right in front of your face. What would you do if everything that came out of your own mouth didn’t make sense? Couldn’t tell your dreams from reality. What is there to do? Scream? Run? Cry? This is the world that Savannah Lewis had been living in. She had constantly been told that everything she did, said, saw and heard was wrong. A figment of her imagination. A fantasy from her own little world. This little world was otherwise known as schizophrenia. This is Savannah’s story.
Savannah had led a joyful childhood of a happy family of four. A mother and father who were happily married and an older brother, Tane. He’d always been the golden child. Natural musician, good looks, intelligent. Although Savannah was very mature for her age, she was always the one who was encouraged but never noticed. Always in the way, crying out for just a speck of attention in any shape or form. Nothing she did was ever good enough to live up to her parents standards. They’d always say to her, “You’ll find your calling one day, dear. God gave everyone a purpose in life. You just haven’t found yours yet.” Savannah hated being told this because she had always thought religion was just a waste of time, unlike her heavily Christian family. It’s all just a story which had turned into a worldwide game of Chinese Whispers. So since she didn’t believe in religion, Savannah thought that she’d never find her true calling, therefore didn’t see the point in looking for it. She would constantly be telling her parents to look at the blue butterfly. They never took any notice when she’d say it, even when she’d always be tugging on their shirts and jumping up and down, because there never was any blue butterfly. They’d just assume it was a desperate cry for attention and ignore her. Savannah never understood why no one would look at the butterfly. To her it was the most beautiful thing Mother Nature had ever created. Black body, wings of Persian blue scattered with perfectly symmetrical swirls and spots which seemed to glow in the moonlight. It flew with the grace of a thousand doves soaring through a cloudless sky. People just said that Savannah had an overactive imagination and that she’d grow out of it. But she never did grow out of it. The image of the blue butterfly only became more and more vivid as she grew older. It then would try and fly towards a glowing white hole in the sky but never could quite make it there. Her parents would just tell her to stop making up such nonsense and get back to reality because there were much bigger problems in the world than just looking at a non-existent blue butterfly. But Savannah knew it was there. She was sure of it. Suggestions had been made by close friends and family for Savannah to see a psychiatrist, but her parents never did take her because of their beliefs. They believed that anyone who had a mental disorder could just get over it because they had brought it on themselves.
When Savannah’s sixteenth birthday was approaching, her blue butterfly was becoming clearer than ever. It started talking to her, telling her to do things. Follow it, fly with it. But whenever she tried, her parents held her back. They knew something was wrong with their daughter and finally agreed to take her to see someone about it. Savannah and her parents met with Dr. Tanya Matthews on April 26th, 2005 where she was diagnosed with mild schizophrenia. She had said that with treatment there’s a possibility it may stop but that they’d need to trial it at first. However, due to the family’s religion, they refused medication and said that their daughter could handle this alone since she’s the one who’s convinced herself that there’s a blue butterfly everywhere she goes. The doctor tried her hardest to explain to them that without treatment there’s a good chance that the disorder could develop further making Savannah worse but they had made up their minds. No medication could help their daughter. It was all up to her. Dr. Matthews then told her parents that if they were one hundred per cent sure on curing Savannah’s disorder with no medication that she’d need much support from her family. They’d need to learn about their daughter’s disorder, calmly tell Savannah that there was no blue butterfly, be patient and realistic as it may not be cured without medication and spend as much time as possible with her to show her that she’s loved and that someone out there cares. Savannah’s parents agreed to this form of treatment although they still believed that their daughter should be treating herself since they’re convinced she’s the one who brought this on. No one had even asked what Savannah wanted to do. Savannah believed that there was nothing wrong. Everyone else was wrong. They couldn’t see what she could see. The blue butterfly was telling Savannah that they wanted to make sure they’d never see each other again. She would never see her butterfly. The same butterfly she had grown up with. She didn’t want her parent’s treatment. She didn’t want any treatment. Nothing was going to take her blue butterfly away. But Savannah didn’t want to cause any more unrest between her and her family so she just kept quiet. Silent.
Her parents tried with all their might for the following three months to help Savannah but no matter what they did, it didn’t work. Savannah would just sit there staring blankly at them calmly saying, “She says you want to take her away from me. I can’t let you do that. I won’t let you.” They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t even know who ‘she’ was. They weren’t going to give her any medication. There was no chance of that. Nor were they going to go back to the psychiatrist because they knew what she’d say. So they decided to just leave her for a while. Stop with the treatment. See if she just forgot about it all.
This went on for a month or so. Savannah had mentioned the blue butterfly very little. Little did they know that Savannah was doing this on purpose. She knew that if she mentioned her butterfly, they’d try and take it from her again. She just stayed out of her parent’s way so she could avoid their whispering and looks from the corner of their eyes. She only listened to the blue butterfly. It was her only friend. The only one who understood her. They regularly went on walks to the local stream. The stream was very shallow and full of rocks. An old bridge spanned across the top. Around seven metres high. It was very rundown. The sort of bridge that would have been used a century ago to just quickly get from one side to the other on horses. No one used it for that anymore. It was pretty much forbidden for any child to step on to it. It could rot through at any second. Savannah never dare set foot on to that bridge. But that day the bridge looked different. It looked good as new. The blue butterfly flew into the middle of the stream and told Savannah to walk to the centre of the bridge and sit on the hand rail. She needn’t be afraid anymore. How was it meant to break when it had been built again? Savannah did as she was told. The blue butterfly then told her to carefully stand up on the hand rail to see the view of the sun setting. The sun looked white today. A glowing white hole in the sky. The butterfly started flying towards it and said, “Come with me Savannah. No one’s here to stop you this time. Come with me and we’ll be together forever. No one can take me from you. Come with me, Savannah. Fly with me.” Savannah leant forward over that old, rotting bridge and flew towards that white light. Just her and her blue butterfly. Nothing could tear them apart now. Not one thing.
This is a story I was going to enter in a Youth Week competition. It’s kind of schizophrenia from the other side. It’s pretty dark.