Stigma Fighters: Aileen Angel

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Stigma Fighters: Aileen Angel

My name is Aileen. I was born in Hazard, Kentucky. I was five years old when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and ADD.  At a young age I felt different from my peers at daycare. The kids would be running around and playing on the swing sets while I would be alone most of the time and felt so left out. At the time I was diagnosed, I was living with my aunt and uncle while my sisters lived with my parents.

When I entered elementary school, I was put on medication, I hated taking the medication because of the taste. My aunt  put a piece of candy in my mouth so I wouldn’t taste the medication when I took it. I managed to make at least a few friends from Kindergarten to Second Grade. I was like any kid during the 90s. I loved watching Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles,Jurassic Park, Disney movies, I played with Barbies, Hot Wheels, Sky Dancers, and My Little Pony. I didn’t have that many friends because of my mood swings and hung out with my two younger sisters and my cousin most of the time.

In third grade I found myself in and out of the principal’s office and my depression got worse. As a kid video games, books and art were my outlets from the problems in my life. I could turn on a game console and go on adventures with Link. I could escape a city full of zombies with Claire Redfield and Jill Valentine, explore lost cities with Lara Croft, and not worry about my depression. I was free and happy. This was where I began an interest in writing stories. I would write new adventures of my favorite game characters.

In middle school my depression got worse. At school I was teased by guys because I was going through the awkward phase and most girls would avoid me like the plague because of what some popular girl said about me. I started to develop low self esteem and began to have thoughts about harming myself because I felt that I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough. I would sit by myself at lunch and at recess and would often stay in my room and cry myself to sleep.

In grade 8 I got into a relationship with a guy that I only saw as a friend. We were set up by his cousin because she saw us hanging out together. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by friend-zoning him so I went along with the relationship. He’d spoil me with gifts like jewelry and candy, which would get me hyper and I began to ask him for more gifts. It wasn’t a very honest relationship. I lied and said my parents were rich archeologists that were in Peru while I stayed with my aunt and uncle. The truth was that my parents were in the process of getting a divorce.

I was happy and focused on the relationship most of the time until the day my aunt had a brain aneurysm while I was on a school trip to the circus. My mom came and picked me and my sisters up from school. I had no idea what was going on until we got to the car and my mom told us that while we were on the trip my aunt and uncle were grocery shopping when she felt sick and was rushed to the hospital. She had to be flown out to the University of Kentucky Hospital. My mom kept telling me it was going to be okay. At the time I didn’t realize that my aunt was in critical condition. The next day, my mom, my sisters and I drove to Lexington. My mom walked me to the ICU where I met my aunt’s sister who then walked me over to where my aunt was laying.  She was laying in her hospital bed, half of her head had been shaved for surgery and there were tubes connected to her head. I was devastated. Here was the woman that had raised me, taught me everything I knew, my best friend, the woman who was basically my second mother laying in a hospital bed. She was connected to tubes and fighting for her life.

I was always the strong one in serious family situations, but this was the first in my life I was the one to cry. I entered high school later that fall. I had the worst time fitting in, I didn’t want to attend classes and my boyfriend’s cousin (who was jealous because his grandmother helped him pick out some rings as a middle school graduation gift) decided to spread horrible rumors about me in the school.

My boyfriend dumped me a few months later which made me feel worse. I was very much the loner in high school. I spent most of my time at home taking care of my aunt, writing, painting, playing video games, watching anime and reading. In the summer of 2006 I got my first job at McDonalds as a fry girl. This was also the summer my parents decided to divorce for real. This sent me into a breakdown. My dad and uncle were fighting and arguing with my mom. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to see my sisters again because of the drama. I began acting out in school and had a horrible 18th birthday.

I graduated high school with a career major in Child Development. In May 2007 I was going to go to college with a clean slate. I went to college for a while until I flunked out and decided to pursue my dream of acting, which fell through and I returned to college a year later. My life changed in 2010, my sister became pregnant and my aunt passed away in November.

The death of my aunt was a devastating experience, I was irritable and in denial most of the time. I started to get into fights with my mother and began slacking in college. Things kind of looked up for in 2011 when my niece Brooklyn was born the 29th of April. After my niece was born I knew it was my turn to be the cool aunt. It was a way to heal the pain of losing my aunt.

In December I became a fan of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic The main appeal of the show was that I loved the older generation and the show reminded me of the classic Disney movies I used to watch with my aunt and I began interacting with fellow bronies on Twitter and for the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere. I’ve started to get back into writing and I felt like I’ve got a grip on life now.

Today I still struggle with depression, jealousy and insecurity. At times I feel alone and that nobody would care if I disappeared. The Prozac seems to be working most of the time when I’m not in a manic jealous rage over something. Some ways I manage my bipolar is by writing, doing Pilates and yoga. I never admitted to being bipolar until college. At first I thought people would avoid me like I was some disease until a classmate came up to me and told me I was brave to come out and say that.

Personally, I’ve never really been labeled as a lunatic or some other mentally ill stereotype, just kind of weird. But according to Google search, people like me shouldn’t have kids or get married, which really upsets me. I wish to have a normal life as much as possible, but it feels like I can’t. I hope that people like me become more accepted in the world, I hope that there’s more support out there for teenagers who were in the same situation that I was in middle through high school where they can be more open to talk about how they really feel and not feel like they misbehaved or that it’s their fault for feeling that way.

 

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Aileen is a 25 year old woman living in Kentucky. She is in college studying early childhood education. She enjoys gaming,writing, reading and spending time with her family. She is an aspiring writer and voice actor. You can find more from her here: http://msaileenvalentine89.tumblr.com/

By | 2015-02-17T11:43:38+00:00 January 1st, 2015|Categories: Brave People, Uncategorized|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Helen White January 2, 2015 at 1:37 am - Reply

    That’s a very intense and personal story to write Aileen, respect is due for your courage in getting it out there. You certainly have writing talent, it shines through this very personal narrative. It’s also womderful to hear about people who struggled at school (as I did) and who are actively saying so – your voice is needed.

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