I Wasn’t a Bitch; I Was Schizophrenic -Michelle Hammer
I didn’t want to speak. I didn’t want to be noticed. I didn’t want to be bothered. I wanted to be completely ignored.
It was high school, and I was an undiagnosed paranoid Schizophrenic. I remember thinking, “What’s the point?” What was the point of doing homework, or getting good grades? I didn’t think it would matter to me. I never thought I would graduate high school. I thought I would be dead soon.
I thought I would kill myself before graduation.
High school is hard. But for a paranoid schizophrenic it’s unreal. Imagine you’re sitting in a classroom, and the teacher is speaking. But instead of listening to the teacher you’re listening to the voices in your head. I didn’t know they were voices at the time. I thought I just had vivid thoughts and daydreams.
In class, I was thinking about my interactions with friends. Do they like me? Are they actually my friends? Do I say dumb things? Maybe I should just stop talking. I hate everything. I just wanna die. And then I would come back to reality. Defeated. I hated myself. The class would be over soon, and I would have no idea what the teacher spoke about. The bell would ring and it would be time to go to the next class. Then once again, the same process would repeat. I didn’t mean to not pay attention in class; I was Schizophrenic.
Then we would have our lunch break. I would have to interact with classmates. Sometimes this would run smoothly—however, the negative thoughts would often surface.
What am I saying?
Am I eating weird?
How do I form a normal conversation?
Am I just strange?
I tried to stick with people I knew my whole life. Sometimes I’d be insulted by people who claimed to be my friends, but it was better than being alone. These confusing interactions would make me uneasy, uncomfortable, awkward. This would make me angry and often uncomfortable. These negative thoughts in my head would be mean, and make me mad.
I wasn’t a bitch; I was Schizophrenic.
The one joy in high school was joining the Lacrosse team my freshman year and continuing to play throughout high school. It was my outlet for all of my pent up aggression and anger. I would run around the field like a maniac. I would play aggressively, which is how I thought I should play.
Women’s Lacrosse is supposed to be no-contact. However, I would elbow people, knock people over, and slam into anyone who would dare try to take a shot on my goalie. Eventually, my coach approached me. She told me that sometimes when she watched me play, it looked like I was playing the game how it’s supposed to be played, although quite often it seemed like I was playing just to hurt people.
I had a lot pent up aggression, I didn’t try to purposely harm people; I was Schizophrenic.
So here I am. Ten years after high school. Alive.
Sometimes it amazes me that I made it through high school. Sometimes, I don’t really know how I made it. I think I was scared to actually do it and I’m glad I didn’t. Living as an undiagnosed paranoid Schizophrenic in high school was not easy. I wish I would have accepted help sooner. I just had to realize it for myself, when I was ready.
When you realize that you’re ready, your life can change for the better. Don’t be afraid to admit there is a problem. If you feel something is wrong, speak to someone. Once you gain the courage to speak up, your life will change in so many positive ways.
Hi, I’m Michelle Hammer. I am an NYC native with Schizophrenia. Growing up with a mental illness is hard. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 18. At age 18, I was told I had Bipolar Disorder, and then I was correctly diagnosed with Schizophrenia at 22. Those 4 years were quite a ride. I believe that Lacrosse is the only way I got through college. At 27, I decided I wanted to use my artistic talents, and fearless personality, to do something that could benefit the mental health community. In May 2015, I founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, which is a clothing line with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. If 1 in 5 New Yorkers, has a mental health issue why is there so much stigma? This is why I find conversations about mental health to be so important. Also, Schizophrenic.NYC takes a portion of the profits and donates to organizations in NYC that help out with the mentally ill population of NYC.