Rebecca is an amazing person, with a great voice, I’ve been privileged to know for awhile now.
I was introduced to #EndTheStigma campaign this past weekend. Today I found an article from Mashable about #EndTheStigma.
I’d like to take this opportunity to break some self-stigma. I have mental health challenges. I’ve been in psych wards in the past and thought that would be my life- a psych ward patient. But that wasn’t what was in the cards for me, luckily. I was able to overcome most of my issues enough to function like a so-called normal person. I say “so-called” because I don’t believe that there is a normal. Normal is a setting on a washing machine and none of the washing machine companies can agree what “normal” means. I suffer from severe anxiety and in the past depression. This stems from coming from a very anxious family and from being Neurodivergent.
I have something called A Non-Verbal Learning Disability (which in my opinion falls under being Neurodiverse). What is a Non-Verbal Learning Disability you might ask? Well first you should know the acronym that I use for it- NLD. Most people that are familiar with NLDs leave out the V for some odd reason. I never figured out why, or haven’t figured that out yet. Anyways- back to what a NLD is: It is an invisible disability. It’s diagnosed by a large discrepancy in the difference between one’s verbal and performance IQ. I have an incredible verbal IQ. I have problems with the non-verbal part of communication. Or at least I did when I wasn’t able to control my anxiety. I missed out on 65% of communication: the non-verbal part. What did that mean for me? I related to the world through words. I still do to a large extent. That’s one reason I read so much.
But back to how my NLD affects me. It affects my visual spacial relationships. I don’t drive for that reason and seem to bump into anything possible. I can stub my toes while sitting- a very special talent. I have an odd looking gait, or at least I’m told that. I don’t realize how differently I come across because I’ve lived with this my entire life.
The reason for my NLD is a genetic mutation. Some people have Traumatic Brain Injuries or had a seizure as a young child that caused theirs. Most NLDers that I’ve communicated with don’t know what caused theirs.
Would I trade having a NLD for a so-called normal brain? Heck no! I love who I am now. However I didn’t always feel that way. I was deeply unhappy for most of my life.
I felt disconnected from the world. I didn’t have many friends and the friends I thought I had weren’t real friends. They were people I had daily contact with who tolerated me but didn’t want to hang out with me. This was very confusing to me because they told me they were my friends. I didn’t understand that they were just being socially nice. Social niceties confused me. I didn’t pick up on them. I can still be a bit too blunt at times, but I’ve gotten much better about how to behave in different situations.
Ok, so enough about the bad stuff that comes with my NLD (which includes the inability to do any math above a 2nd grade level- though I just said enough about the bad stuff)…
My NLD has given me tons of gifts: I’m incredibly well spoken. Because of this I’m regularly asked to be on speakers panels for mental health events. I’m a speaker for an anti-stigma campaign in San Francisco. I go out and tell my mental health story or lack of mental health story aka my lived experience of being labeled as a chronic psych patient. I love to read and I love to write. I need to not read as much and spend more time writing. I plan on blogging some day soon and I also plan on writing a book at some point in my life…but who knows where life will take me.
I’m at a very content part of my life right now despite all the recent deaths (my mom and my best friend amongst many others) I’ve been dealing with and the unfortunate life problems (like my dad having to move to a memory care home due to Alzheimer’s).
I’m applying for a peer mental health job this week, my first job application in over a decade. Scary but exciting. I think I have a very good chance of getting the job because the supervisor for the job told me to apply for it. I know her from all the peer mental health activities I’m involved in right now. I’m also busier than I’ve ever been.
I’m also very happy, ecstatic even, to be engaged to the love of my life- my first boyfriend, Chris. He’s stuck by my side through the good times and the bad times. Through me being at three different mental health treatment centers. And now we’re planning our wedding, our future while trying to live in the present.
So I’ve deviated from my original post about my NLD and how I’m trying to break some self stigma. I didn’t even get into my self stigma, but that’s a huge topic and this post is getting long enough.
I’d love to read people’s responses to this post or know who read it, but I also understand if you don’t comment because I don’t comment on most things I read on fb or online in general.
I’d spend my entire day typing and despite how much I want to share my ideas and insight I don’t want to spend my life typing. I want to do so much and talk with people about mental health none stop (usually).
I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions about the peer mental health movement in San Francisco.
I’m known as Resource Rebecca for a reason.