Things That Donny Taught Me:​ Part 1

STIGMA – I am a 36-year-old, Self Employed, African American Woman, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Granddaughter, Friend, and Warm Human. I am a writer, storyteller, stage manager, artist/talent liaison, and event coordinator and former theatre actress. I am Young, Gifted, & Black and I am Mentally Ill. I have been aware of this fact for some years now, however, this is the first time I have publicly admitted my condition. I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Within this disorder, I experience a wide array of emotional health difficulties. Just a few of the most prominent are nightmares, insomnia, severe depression, anxiety, and mood swings. There are people that are very close to me that are unaware of the challenges I face daily. I choose to hide. I have always been viewed by those closest to me as the epitome of strength. I am also viewed by those who both know me very well and those who barely know me as a very jovial, festive, sociable person. It is with great pride that I declare that I possess all of those characteristics…but there is so much more to me! One of the first things that cross my mind upon waking up to a new day is “Which one (or more) of my mental health challenges am I going to have to conquer today?” It’s not a very easy reality to wake up and have to immediately fight the feeling of defeat! It has proven to be an extremely exhausting existence.  I battle often with transparency because in our culture to admit mental illness is equivalent to admitting weakness. I have always taken pride in being a strong individual. Because of fear of embarrassment and rejection or judgment I chose to wear many masks. There are times when it is nearly impossible to repress my symptoms so I choose isolation. I prefer to fight alone in the shadows because over time a have trusted very few with my truth and though some of them assured me that they could handle my condition and would there fighting in the trenches with me come what may, I quickly found myself regretting ever opening up. The rejection and judgment that I so avidly fought to evade would hit me like a speeding freight train. It left me feeling worse. I have been told that I haven’t got anything that I should ever feel sad or anxious about. “Count your blessings.” “You’ve experienced some life-changing events and lost some loved ones, but you’ve got to keep going. We all experience death.” You were sexually abused…you are not the first and you surely won’t be the last.” “It’s mind over matter!” “You’re just being dramatic.”  You need to go to church and renew your relationship with God.” “Where Is your faith?”

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