By: Lacy Hilliard
Authors Note: Leading up to September, The Tomahawk will feature stories about local residents that have struggled with substance abuse and/or mental health issues in order to help raise awareness for National Recovery Month. It is my hope that this series will help illuminate the trials of those struggling with issues that are often stigmatized even in modern society. Thank you for reading.
As you read this article, wave your hands up and down, as rapidly as you can, about two inches from your face. Now imagine that level of distraction 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of your life and you will begin to understand what Coy Lauer deals with on a daily basis.
Coy Lauer has suffered from mental health issues for most of his life. At age 13, Lauer began experiencing troubling symptoms like hearing voices and having intense emotional outbursts. Unbeknownst to Lauer, the struggles he was experiencing at age 13 would haunt him for the rest of his life. When the voices first began, the barely teenage Lauer had difficulty discerning them from reality, It took me awhile to realize that they were voices. I just thought someone was talking to me, said Lauer. Following the manifestation of the illness, the symptoms only began to worsen. Lauer, who had previously been such an exceptional student that he skipped a grade, quickly began to spiral downward. As a result of his illness, Lauer became the target of teasing in school. He also found it extremely difficult to make friends, an issue he still copes with to date. Lauer quickly developed a thick skin but his resilience to unkind words did little to help him manage his internal struggles and it wasnt long before the voices began to take control of his life.
Lauer jokingly calls the three most prominent voices he hears Me, Myself and I. The Me voice is unkind but not quite as daunting as the Myself voice which Lauer refers to as the really nasty one. But it is perhaps the I voice that is the most harmful of the three. It is the voice that tells Lauer to commit suicide, an act he has tried numerous times, which has led to various hospitalizations. Though Me, Myself and I, are the most prominent, Lauer hears several additional voices he simply refers to as The Others. Sometimes they (the voices) tell me to hurt myself. Sometimes they tell me to destroy something. Not one of them is good, said Lauer.
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