Throughout my life, I have been called crazy, nuts, and a head case–not only once, but multiple times. I have been told that I am “not all there” and am “off my rocker.” I used to be very offended by those statements, however, presently I do not take the comments personally. I actually consider them to be compliments and I feel sorry for those people who do not understand mental illnesses or disabilities.
Throughout my entire life, especially during my teenage years, I knew that something was not right and I just could not put my finger on it. I struggled with depression, bulimia, anxiety and anger. I just thought it was a normal stage to go through in one’s life or that all teens experienced it. When I was 18 years old, I got so depressed to the point where I was desperate to escape the pain that I was feeling. I know that this may sound completely nuts, but sometimes the pain would be unbelievably unbearable that it seemed to be the easy way out.
As an adult, I would never even consider doing that and it has never once been a thought that has crossed my mind.When I was admitted into a hosital at 18, for a program for teens who struggle with depression, I can definitely say that I learned a lot there. It was definitely a learning experience that I will never forget.
What contributed to my road to recovery was getting to know the other kids that were there and listening to their stories. I realized that I was sane, and that I was not the only one who was going through this difficult time. I also realized that my situation was not as bad as the other kids’ situations. Although some of the kids had better home lives than I did;their depression was worse because some of them would cut themselves. .
This experience made me realize that certain events that I had experienced in my life triggered my depression. I could not deal with the fact that I was adopted, that my parents got divorced, my mom’s death, and the neglect and abuse that I had to deal with from my adoptive mother. I also had to experience being kicked out of my father’s house after my mom died. I look back and see everything that I went through and am very proud of the obstacles that I had overcome and the accomplishments that I acheived on my own without the help of any parents. Many people doubted me, but I wanted to prove them wrong.
I ended up proving those wrong who doubted me by putting myself through college, graduated Magna Cum Laude, paid for my own apartment, worked my butt off and saved $30,000 dollars from waitressing ( I became obsessed with work, especially since I have ADD). I was sick of feeling sorry for myself, worked hard to fight my depression, and kept a positive attitude that life is worth living and that I will be successful one day. I even paid for my wedding, got married and bought a house at 25 years old.
One important lesson that I learned throughout all of this is that if you want something bad enough you can achieve anything. All that you have to do is set your mind to it. I did exactly just that and became a certified Special Education English Teacher, got a job at a high school, and held the job for three years. I was able to help many of my students who were going through the same experiences that I was going through as a teen. I even saved some of my students’ lives.
Although my job unfortunately ended in the way that I did not want it to, I will never let that get the best of me. It only makes me want to work harder towards my new goals. This is because I know that I can do anything despite my disability and mental illness. I am thankful for having the opportunity to help so many of my students’ realize their strengths and that their life is worth living.
This takes a lot of courage for me to write about this online for all of the world to see, and you can think I am crazy if you want..lol…However, if there is someone out there who reads this and it helps them realize that they are not the only one who experiences this, then I will know that I have helped someone. I get very disappointed in those people who associate mental illness with being crazy or a disability with stupidity. What makes me even angrier is when people say to me, “you graduated college, there is no way in the world that you have ADD.” OR “That is just an excuse for not being organized and your inability to complete tasks.” Well, as far as I am concerned that is complete bullshit. I would do anything to be “normal” (whatever that is!). No one chooses to have a mental illness or disability, and I am not ashamed of it.
When I met my husband, that is when my life started to get better and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. He has always been supportive and has always believed in me. He has accepted me for who I am and says that he loves me “craziness and all.” In my early twenties, I refused to go to counseling or take medication, this is because I was in denial that I had bipolar and ADD.
During my first year of teaching at the age of 25, my ADD and bipolar took the best of me since my workload increased. You see, being a first year teacher is difficult in itself, now throw on having ADD and bipolar! Talk about total chaos. The workload caused me to have bad anxiety, which led me to becoming depressed. On top of that, I dealt with criticism from my coworkers because I was “always on the go” and spoke very fast. I hated the fact that they would always tell me to “Calm down,” and asked “are you ok?”I just wanted to scream “I am fine damn it! And I do not want to f*&*Ng repeat myself!”
I would consistently be gossipped about and received dirty looks. When our budget did not pass during my first year, I feared losing my job. I even heard that teachers were saying that I should get fired because I am unorganized. I thought “wow, that’s low. They should get fired for being complete As#$*&#@.” Thankfully getting fired did not occur and it was my breaking point. I would not let my coworkers’ get the best of me because they do not understand mental illnesses and disabilities. I truly felt sorry for them because they never EVER tried to get to know me as a person. I thought to myself, “How the hell can they be in the education field when they do not understand differences?”
With the daily stress that I encountered as a Special Ed. Teacher and my own struggles, I needed someone to speak to. I used to speak to the school psychologist for advice when I was dealing with anxiety and depression. He would always be there waiting to listen with a box of tissues. He was the one who said “Jess, do not take this offensively because you are a hard worker and outstanding teacher, but were you ever diagnosed with ADD?” I told him that I was not but informed him of my depression, anxiety and struggles throughout my schooling. He said “intelligent and creative people such as yourself, struggle with these symptoms as well” He then suggested that I speak to a psychologist outside of school for a diagnosis.
At first, I was offended and thought to myself “who is this guy to tell me that I should get a psychological evaluation?” “What does he think I am, crazy?” That night I put a lot of thought into it and realized that I was in denial and that he was only trying to help me. I knew that he was always there to support me and helped me to believe in myself. It was the first time in my life that I chose to seek help. At 25 years old, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, ADD, and Bipolar I disorder (manic depressive).
I then was put on an antidepressant and ADD medication. I have never EVER believed in medication, but let me tell you, it has changed my life. I can achieve more throughout my day. I do not care what other people think of me, and I worry less. My mind was always consumed with thoughts of worry, suspicion, hopelessness and anxiety.I always told myself that people were out to get me and that they did not like me. On the medication, I started to take better care of myself, became much more confident, and my depression and anxiety went away. I even stopped crying at the drop of a hat.
Medicine has changed my life completely and it has helped me to feel “normal.” For once in my life, I can actually say that I love my life and look forward to the next day. It truly has changed my life and solidified that I do have a mental illness and disability. Although the medicine does not change my rapid speech, inability to be organized, and arriving to places on time, I would take that over anxiety and depression anyday.
I am extremely thankful for the day that the school psychologist gave me that advice and for my husband for dealing with my angry outbursts and the days where I went “Crazy” and cursed at him and punched walls and threw things. Not at him of course. LOL. I know…. pretty nuts right? He is a gem among gems and I can never thank god enough for having this amazing man enter my life. For the past 9 years he has supported me and is the most loyal person I know. I hope that if there is anyone out there who is reading this that does not understand ADD and mental illness, I hope this gives you some insight and a better understanding. I also hope that some readers find that they can relate to this, and that it helps those think twice before calling anyone crazy.
Well, this took a lot for me to share, but if I can help one person out there, then it is worth it and I have achieved my goal. Thank you to those who took the time to read this post. It means a lot to me.
OH, and by the way… You are not crazy! lol
~ Jess ~