Stigma Fighters: Benjy A.

As children, many of us had high hopes for the future. Will I be rich? Famous? Twirling a sign for money?

I only had one hope:

I hope it ends quick.

Living in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, I was not diagnosed in the way I am now. I have Asperger’s, social anxiety, depression, and ADD, the last one being the only thing I was treated for as a boy. Each one affected the others, even before I was diagnosed:

Asp: There’s something wrong with me, but I don’t know what.
SoAnx: Whatever it is, I bet everyone knows and won’t tell me.
Dep: I’ll never be like everyone else. If only I could die soon.
ADD: UNCONTROLLED ACTS OF INSTINCT!!!

Since the ADD was controlled, I never went through with it, cutting off at depression. This led me to praying to God to kill me, since I didn’t want to go to hell.

Obviously I died that night, in the same way that anyone dies when they consider things to be so bad that they ask not for salvation, but death. In my teen years I was treated for depression, but that never helped my other issues. In college I went to a new therapist who actually realized I had multiple symptoms, and gave me some help. He helped me so much that I attended sessions less frequently…

Assuming I had been “cured,” I stopped taking my pills as well. As a result, I lost my mind a bit. I would write horrible poetry (ranked fourth worst in the universe), leading into cursing my life, and after a particularly bad poetry workshop, I ran out and almost broke vending machine glass to stab myself with. But I thought of my mom and called her instead, so we went to the hospital.

Oh, and the staff was so nice and understanding! No. No they were not. It was the most horrible experience of my entire life. First the waiting room, which was crowded and long. Then I spent five days with people dehumanized to the issues of patients. I got Remeron, which could have the opposite effect, causing anger instead of calm.

I got home, took the pills religiously, and wound up back in the hospital on Monday. Yes, I was now angry, although I didn’t take the pill that levels my ADD, so instinct won. I was thrown out of a book store, got harassed by bench guards, yelled at an anti-Semitic homeless man, and threw myself off of the subway stairs. It was seven steps, but that was all it took to get my mom prepping me for the hospital again.

If you think going to the hospital is bad, try going to the hospital a second time, five days later. “What happened? You were doing so well!” I just… I can’t respond to that. I wanted to be alone, or home. Home Alone. Perfect. (Subsequently, had I been home alone on the day of my discharge, I could have fought off the gentleman who had robbed my house.)

Embarrassed and horrified that I attempted to kill myself, I tried to shut myself off. “Oh, I was only faking being well! I’ll never get better!” I mean, now I know it’s true because I’m utter perfection, but Benjy of then would have hated Benjy of now. I got taken off of Remeron, put on something amazing, and booted out on a Wednesday.

Then I had to take a program which totally dumb and stupid and wrong for me. Sit in a circle like an intervention with a group of recently hospitalized and released patients. Plus they cut off contact about me from my beloved therapist. We take sessions more seriously now.

This was all from March to April, and I have been doing better. I write this now because my circle has been completed since yesterday. After months of being too scared to return to the book store that triggered my relapse, I finally went back and bought 42 dollars worth of books. Fear: faced.

It’s true that I have all these symptoms, but they don’t have to be negative. I think harnessing them could do a world of good instead of assuming their traditional roles. If you have something people consider a stigma, maybe the best thing to do would be to turn it around.

Asp: I’m not like other people. I’m one of a kind, baby!
SoAnx: I better watch what I say. I’ll be sensitive to other’s problems.
Dep: I’m at some stranger’s funeral. Better think of depressing things. Well, that was fast.
ADD: LET’S ALL GO ROLLERBLADING!

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Formerly a Stigma Lover, Benjy A. is now a Stigma Fighter. In his spare time, he enjoys getting spares in bowling, spare tires, and milkshakes.

  • Nique Eagen

    AW! Glad you’re feeling better! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Melissa Palmer

    I love the way you describe each dx. Thank you for being a fighter.