I think of self acceptance as my gift from my Creator GOD. I believe in GOD. I know he loves me because he made it possible for me to like even love myself and for me to have a positive self image. I praise GOD for the gifts of self acceptance and self love. I could have stayed broken inside but GOD healed me! I am not a self hating or a self loathing person like you would think someone in my circumstances would be. The Holy Spirit bares witness in my soul so I am a self love advocate and I can inspire other people to become self love advocates too! I love GOD because he loves me and I love myself. I am a self centered person but I love myself so that’s okay! People don’t always like me but that’s okay because I like myself, I love myself. I don’t want to be better than anyone else I just want to be (me) Ayesha. I want to be the woman that GOD created me to be. I am an amazing woman, I am Ayesha Karim! Now I can OWN that!
I remember my earliest memories of being a Kindergarten girl student and having someone throw out of the window the prettiest pink London Fog winter coat my mother had bought me to wear to school for winter. Another child saw my coat and threw it like eight floors down. A day later I got back my coat but it was soiled and very dirty and my new cute little pink London Fog winter coat was ruined. I still remember that. I am proud to say I wore school uniforms for almost all my years in school except grades 7 thru 9 and 11th and 12th grade. Now that I’m 35 I have values that were taught to me as a child or that I grew up with. I cannot believe I’m on payroll on Mercer and I’m schizophrenic. That’s krazy! I couldn’t believe I got an email from Harvard Extension School inviting me to work toward a degree or certificate program. I want to get my Master of Liberal Arts from Harvard I won’t lie. That is the opportunity of my lifetime. You need to take and pass three preadmission courses with a B or better and then you are admitted to Harvard but your three preadmission courses count toward your degree. That’s sweet! Harvard is the best school in the country. Ayesha at Harvard in the future…maybe?
I find that throughout history people with my diagnosis: Schizophrenia were thinkers even revolutionaries. The diagnosis is the worse diagnosis you could get when you are diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Depression has less stigma. There is much more stigma for Schizophrenia than Depression. It’s sad but it’s true. I will not be a cashier in a grocery store. I will go for a second BA in Early Childhood Education. I will have 6 credits after this semester is over. Grades will be available in early January 2017. Being schizophrenic isn’t that bad now that I’m writing and typing a memoir, have published a chapbook of poems, have applied for the 2017 Cave Canem chapbook prize, have taken a Cave Canem poetry workshop, have published poems in the NAMI Mercer newsletter, and had a poem accepted as one of the winning entries in the 2016 NJ Wordsmith competition this passed June 2016. I am happy! I think years from now when I’m either an elderly woman or dead people will remember me. How I persevered and never gave up. How I treated people well even if people didn’t always treat me well. How I was a good Poet. How I was a good preschool teacher or whatever. People will remember me when I’m gone. At least I hope so!
In the Fall of 1998 when I started Mercer after graduating from high school in June 1998 chaos called. I graduated from Mercer in May 2007 at the age of 26 and I transferred to NJCU in the Fall of 2007. Now in the Fall of 2016 chaos is calling but I’m okay. I am in the middle of my first full semester employed at Mercer as a Mentor for the DREAM program where I work with students with intellectual disabilities. I started working at Mercer in January 2016. I am on payroll. I am happy. This Christmas 2016 is Christmas at Mercer and NJCU! I am going to be finishing up my first semester as an Early Childhood Education major at NJCU! I am going to the library tomorrow to do some reading for two hours or so and then work on my Kwanzaa paper for an hour. I need to check Blackboard for messages from Dr. Chakraborty for Intro to Early Childhood Education class.
People say a lot of things about me some good. Some bad. There are people that don’t care for me and there are others that love me. I always had my mother and I still have my mother to help me. I can trust my mother with anything. My relationship with my step father is better now at age 35 then it was at 15 years old or even at age 25. He complimented me on my poetry chapbook the other day and he said I really had a way with writing poetry. Edi Giunta likes me and says she is proud of me. I believe that Edi likes me and that she is proud of me. She gave me the first A I ever got while I was a student at NJCU. One of the most interesting things is people will say “Ayesha accepts and likes herself and the next thing they’ll say is “you know Ayesha is Black”. I find myself taking this as a compliment and not being angry that they add “you know Ayesha is Black”. It is just so good to be me in my 30s. It wasn’t as a child, it wasn’t as a teenager and it wasn’t in my 20s. My 30s is a great time! A time for me to write a memoir about my life since age 14 and the onset of my mental illness and to just enjoy being alive. I am a Poet too. I am taking a course at The Institute of Children’s Lit until January 2018. Life is good!
I have been called a self love advocate by Vania and I liked how that sounded. Vania wrote that I was a self love advocate and a Schizophrenic African American woman. Vania is from Peru and she is Hispanic. She is also an Early Childhood Education major. She wants to be a Kindergarten teacher and I want to work with toddlers at The Goddard School or a Montessori school. It wasn’t until people I went to college with that knew I had written a memoir and people I knew from NAMI Mercer started to acknowledge me for the self acceptance tip I am on that the way everyone or most people perceived me changed. Suddenly this black girl wasn’t staring into space with this blank stare on her face. I was a NAMI Mercer volunteer and poet. I became known as a self love advocate and most people would probably say “Ayesha really likes herself and seems to feel good about who she is”. Others say “Ayesha that’s a lot of bling” and still there are people that don’t like me or care for me for whatever reason. I think it is a big accomplishment for me to be a self love advocate and I am a Schizophrenic African American woman at the same time! I think that makes me crazysexycool. I’m a 2X and I still dress up and have fun whenever I can at a party or with family. I love my life even though it’s far from perfect it’s mine.
People would always say I was corny as a kid and as a teenager even in my 20s, even now some people would say that. I couldn’t dream of being cool. The same goes for my mom. She came to this country when she was twelve years old from Guyana and she went to Hunter College where she got her BSN and her MPH. She has another Master’s degree. My mom is an amazing woman! She’s a nurse. I am proud of my mom. I am writing a memoir I call Ayesha’s Story. It’s the coolest thing I have ever done. People became interested in my story and said things like “Ayesha you shared a lot” or “I was interested in memoirs like yours about mental illness specifically Schizophrenia”. I was always serious and focused on school even though my ending GPA was a C average I was a serious student, I just had a serious mental illness to live with. Schizophrenia is very difficult and has the most stigma of any mental illness. I am thankful for the way my parents and family brought me up. Corny or not the upbringing I had made me the person I am today. My values, my belief in God and how I see myself all came from being love unconditionally by my mother and what my parents sacrificed for me. I’m greatful that I can still count on my parents and my family to have my back and to be supportive of me. Even now that I’m 35 years old!