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!
I am not angry or bitter about the past. A lot happened for my good and for better or worse I have myself and my mother and my friends. I started writing my memoir that I am still writing and typing in my last two semesters at NJCU. Edi Giunta is my memoir professor and my friend. Edi invited me to her house to the party she holds at her house in Teaneck, NJ every May and December know as Memoirfest. I shared my story twice after taking Memoir Workshop and Advanced Memoir Workshop. I remember how positively everyone responded. I did not expect people to be interested in my story in fact I thought people would respond negatively or indifferently when I shared my story but thank goodness they responded like they did. I am still writing and typing my memoir: Ayesha’s Story (The Schizophrenia Memoirs) and my goal is to have at least 60,000 words to have a book. Edi told us a book is 60,000 words to 70,000 words at NJCU alumni day back in September of this year. I am so happy I can say I really like myself and I buy nice things for myself and I treat myself. Next July I will have not smoked a cigarette in three years not one cigarette. I quit with Chantix and I am glad I did. I am now a non-smoker and I will never smoke again. I love my life. I love being alive and living. I want to live to be at least 80 years old.
I want to write children’s books maybe even a series of children’s books where the protagonist is a little black girl. Taye Diggs the author of Chocolate Me and of Mixed Me seems less happy with Chocolate Me! than he does with “Mixed Me” the children’s book he wrote for biracial and multiracial kids. I am very comfortable in my own chocolate skin and so I can bring analysis to these two children’s books that I admit to never have read and only to know about. I don’t know too many Chocolate brown skinned people who are as self accepting, self aware who are actually self love advocates other than myself. If I can be honest usually darker skinned brothers have a built in self hatred where they marry women who are lighter skinned or are of another race but this is because they are self loathing men. All black men are not self loathing but most are in my opinion. Kanye West is one of them. I have no problem with black men who date outside of their race. I’ve had relationships with white men but I don’t hate myself and I’m not trying to get with the lightest skinned man to have babies with. I have been told I was attractive by some white men who have been very nice to me. I wouldn’t marry a man that didn’t adore me and some white men are really handsome and very nice, while others are racist and mean! Most white men I’ve met are nice! When I think of “Mixed Me” I think that this book is for Taye Diggs and his biracial children he had with either a white woman or an Asian woman maybe both. This brother doesn’t really like himself. He is self hating in my opinion. I couldn’t even say this if I wasn’t the self love advocate and beautiful chocolate woman I am! I hope people comment on this post!