Eventually I was taken out of my High School and enrolled in the school for "troubled" kids because of my running away as a teenager. I was in the second semester of the 11th grade when this took place. My attendance was terrible, my grades were even worse. I had given up on school, friends, grades and everything in general other than taking care of myself. Some would say I was depressed - but in a secret reality, I was going through withdrawals.
I was put on ritalin against the Doctors orders at the age of four and a half. By the time I was fifteen, I knew that I didn't like how it made me feel. I stopped taking them all together. Mom started counting the pills every day, so I started flushing them down the toilet. I didn't know what withdrawals were, but I felt like wearing black every day. I went through terrible mood swings where I would lash out for no apparent reason. I would often get angry and scream at my parents for the smallest things. I never got away with that, though.
Convinced I was on drugs (when really I had taken myself off of drugs) my parents started taking me to shrinks on the military base. They prescribed Klonopin, Paxil, Prozac and a myriad of other mind and emotion numbing drugs. I refused to take those, too. I flushed them down the toilet every day, right along side the Ritalin.
One night I got into trouble for something. I don't even remember what it was. I was told to go down to my room while my parents discussed the punishment. Wanting desperately to show them exactly what the drugs would do to me if I ever actually took them, I took only one tablet of Klonopin. Even I didn't know what the effects would be. By the time I was to report upstairs for the punishment, my eyes were fully dialated. The suspicions only grew. They had me pegged as being a dope fiend and searched my bedroom that night for any illegal narcotics. The only things they found were the things they were trying to force me into taking. It worked just as I had wanted to. They got off of my case about drugs. They still wanted me to take my prescriptions just before bedtime so nobody saw my dialated eyes, but I still refused. I continued to flush them down each day, or grind them into dust and sprinkle them in the yard. There were a few happy birds flitting around for a while when I did that.
At the alternative school I started to run into people I hadn't seen in a few years. I had gone to school with some kids in Jr High that suddenly disappeared, much the way I did in the 11th grade. Of course I had few friends the entire time I lived in Utah, so I was used to spending my time alone. That suddenly changed at my new school. All of the Social Outcast kids banned together. We didn't pick on one another no matter what our ailments were. The kid with Coke Bottle glasses was treated with equal dignity as the girl with head gear (me) and the former Football player, kicked out of his school for trying Steroids. We were all equals, standing on equal turf. Nobody was better than anyone else. I was in heaven.
At Washington High, I was voted "Sweetest Girl" in the school, and my dear friend Trent Heckman was voted "Sweetest Guy" so our photo was taken for the year book. I had friends who talked to me in each class. I had teachers that would treat me like an equal instead of like a plague. I didn't realize for a long time what the core difference was between Washington and Bonneville, but when it dawned on me, it hit like a ton of bricks. We weren't Mormon.
We came from all walks of life. We were a collection of Catholics, Methodist, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and a variety of other religions. The teachers were as well. We were Military kids, mostly - brought together in the middle of Ogden, Utah because of the simple reason that we were of a different religion.
I've always been a part of the Majority. To have suddenly been thrust into a Minority group because of the church my family went to (or rather, didn't go to) didn't make sense to me. I learned how to cope with it quickly enough though. I made friends all over my school and became one of the most popular kids there. Nobody made fun of me anymore, people asked me for help on English assignments, teachers praised me and my attendance became legendary.
I ended up making friends with a Bronson Babbit after a couple of months. I had known Bronson for a little while in the 7th grade, but like so many I knew, he suddenly disappeared. It turned out that they had moved, and later on was forced to go to Washington like all the rest. He had been a bit of a nerd boy when I knew him before, but I didn't even know who he was when he called out my name in the hallway one day.
"Amanda," he said, "is that you?"
"Yeah, do I know you?"
"It's me. Bronson."
"Bronson Babbit. 7th grade."
He brushed his long hair out of his face, curled his upper lip into a snarling smile, and squinted slightly. Instantly I knew who he was, even with the eye liner and sweat band bracelets.
The very next time I ran away from home after being violently attacked by my mother in the parking lot of the school, I went to Bronson's house. That time I had decided to take my dog Cookie with me. She was such a lovely dog, I couldn't just leave her behind. My parents had threatened to get rid of her if I ran away again. I refused to let anything happen to her. I smuggled her on the city bus by sticking her inside a duffle bag and carrying her like I would a suitcase full of clothes. She never made a sound.
Bronson's family were kind to me. They lived in a small trailer in a Mobile Home court and were fine with me bringing Cookie with me. She got along with Bronson's mother very well and becamse a member of the family very quickly.
The family lived off of Hamburger Helper at almost every meal. They were all fairly heavy set, including Bronson, but their hearts were good and they took care of me. I was free to come and go as I pleased and continued going to school each day. My attendance remained steady, never missing a class.
Finally, and quite suddenly, Bronson's family had to move and I was forced to move on alone. Without anywhere else to go, I finally made the long trek home to my mother and father. I hated no having options.
Cookie was happy to see my mother, but I certainly wasn't. They had cleaned out my room, getting rid of everything I owned except for a mattress on the floor and the clothes I was wearing. I didn't even have a door on my bedroom anymore.
That started another jouney for me - one that would take me over a state border and over 600 miles from home... but that's another story. That's the story of Byron Miller, a story I've never told to another living soul. I'm not proud of it and I did a terrible thing, but I'm ready to tell the truth.