I have been doing really well for the past five years. I have been better. I have been a better version of myself and I have been enjoying my life. I am not where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be. I’m studying the driver manual to prepare me to take and pass the Permit test so that I can get driving lessons and practice driving. I cannot wait to get a car of my own. My mom said my step dad Neil will buy me a new car. I appreciate Neil for that and for picking up my medication yesterday. We are a family my parents and my grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins. I realize my mother and I need Neil and could not get along well without him. How’s that for a reflection…(Neil is my “difficult other”).
I shared my personal narrative my last two semesters at NJCU. I shared in class in both Memoir classes. I shared from the two memoirs I wrote in Edi Giunta’s classes at Memoirfest in December 2014 and May 2015. I had never shared outside of a safe space like NAMI Mercer NJ or AAMH partial care program or in a therapy session. I took a risk being that vulnerable but I am so glad I took that risk. Everyone responded positively at Memoirfest!
I’m an amateur Poet. I’m a Cave Canem workshop Poet too! I have written about 100 poems so far. I have published a Chapbook called Through Ayesha’s Eyes that consists of twenty five poems. My poem My Enemy is a winner of the Very Special Arts 22nd Annual NJ Wordsmith Competition in the category of poetry. I am a memoir writer. I hope to publish my book length memoir The Schizophrenia Memoirs by age 40. I am taking a Writing for Children and Teenagers course right now. I am working on Assignment Two. There are ten assignments to complete the course. I have until January 2018 to complete the course.
This is how Vania describes me on page one of her Women in Lit paper: “Ayesha is an African American woman in her mid 30s with a Creative Writing degree from New Jersey City University. She is a self-love advocate, a peer mentor, and an employee (volunteer) for NAMI at Mercer County, New Jersey and a schizophrenic.” Then she goes on to say “I am a student taking a Women in Literature course and my professor Edi Giunta is the one who connected me to Ayesha.” Vania’s paper is excellent! She seemed to really connect with me. In her paper Vania goes on, “I sit in the conference room and begin to interview Ayesha. We talk about her life, her childhood, her relationships, her illness and her progress. She, with an easy voice and a soulful sereneness answers each question in depth. She never says no or refrains from answering, she is more than an open book.”
Almost one year from when I took Advanced Memoir with Edi Giunta, Edi gave me an opportunity to be interviewed by one of her current students Vania. Vania interviewed me once over the phone two weeks ago for what seemed like 30 minutes.Vania had an interest in memoirs written by women with Schizophrenia, like me. Edi connected Vania and I through my NJCU email and Vania’s gmail address. This past Monday April 25, 2016 Vania and I had a face-to-face interview in the conference room right outside of the English Department. I was so happy Edi asked me but when Edi asked me if I was interested I thought, of course I am. This is a major opportunity for me!
I emailed Char, the only other African American woman I know who is a member of Just Friends social group and of NAMI Mercer. I asked her how she felt about always being one of few Black members at Just Friends events. She said she has hope that some African American mental health consumers join NAMI Mercer soon. I thought she had a great point or thought. I feel like most people are nice and there are a few people I call friends or like as people that I can talk to. Our experience is one of being one of few Blacks at any event or volunteering with NAMI Mercer. There are a few new African American interns at NAMI Mercer that I have met. I have hope that maybe we will get more African American members of Just Friends social group and new NAMI Mercer volunteers!
I will publish a book length memoir that will have three parts. Part One will be about my early onset of Schizophrenia from age 13 or age 14 to age 19 when I stopped seeing Dr. Lavinson in 2000, Part Two will be about my life when I was in my 20s and Part Three will be about me from age 30 to about age 35 to age 39 probably.