At the age of 5, I was diagnosed ADHD and given Ritalin and was told I needed it to "pay attention". At the age of 7, I was kicked out of school for stabbing a kid with a pencil. At the ages of 7-10, I went to therapy every week, was in a "specialized" classroom at school with an "aide" and was literally away from the "normal" kids and classes. I was also seen by top psychologists in California, who diagnosed me with Bipolar. Between ages 7-11, I remember hearing my parents scream at each other and show me what love wasn't. I'd hide under their bed and listen. At age 12, I'd act out to get attention, because I was certain it was my fault they were getting divorced. At age 14, I had 2 separate inpatient stays on the psych wing for attempting suicide. At the age of 14-15, I moved to Arizona with my dad. At the age of 15, I was arrested four times for assault and spent half my year in juvenile detention. A month later, I was in the Psych wing (again) for overdosing on a bottle of pills. I went to three different high schools, that year, too. At 16, I spent my birthday having an abortion, because I was told "I wasn't ready" and if I didn't terminate, I'd be "handed over to the state". Both my parents were disgusted and I couldn't lean on them emotionally, at all. I was alone, that day. 6 months later, I was signed over to the state, anyways. I sat in Juvenile detention for 4 months because I had to wait for placement, not because I was serving a sentence for a crime. I never went to Prom. I turned 17 in foster care and eventually was kicked out when I assaulted my foster sister. Also at 17, I was placed in a residential treatment center on top of a mountain with over 100 other girls. At age 18, I signed myself out (despite being offered additional help if I willingly remained in Arizona custody.) At age 18, I got with John. At 19, I got my HS Diploma (because I didn't apply myself enough to get it while in Treatment) Ages 19-20 I worked at Subway and hated it. At 20, I enrolled at Yavapai College. By 21, I was an Intern at the very treatment center I attended as a student. At 22, I got a job there, too. At 23, I had my handsome son, Jonathan. At 24-25 I worked hard and took care of my son, but I had severe post pardum depression. At 26, I had my sweet girl, Joselyn. At 27, I hit rock bottom. At 28, I moved to a new state for a fresh start and second chance at life.
I'm 29, now. My life hasn't been perfect, but I'm alive. Despite the labels, case numbers and set backs, I'm still moving forward. The point is this; no matter what people say or do to you, it's up to you to to grow beyond the titles this world gives you. If I listened to the countless times I was told I'd never be successful, that I had a mental illness that would debilitate my ability to live a happy life, I'd probably be dead.
Mental health is my focus day in and out. I not only have to learn to navigate the world, but also my brain, on a day to day basis. The stigma and shame surrounding mental health needs to be broken, because had I of not shared all of this, you would of never known I'm "crazy".
I'm a person... a mother, a sister, a daughter and caregiver. I live my life helping others, and in turn, they help me, too. My circle is small, but very tight.
Mental Health is important. We need to be able to speak about it and do so without shame or judgment. Don't judge what you can't try to understand.