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More Than Just Words

We do not know what to expect from a major life-impacting situation, until we have experienced it first hand. Mental illness did just that to me … or so I had thought.

More Than Just WordsPhoto by Leah White

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With my eyes closed I took long drawn-out deep breaths. My feet dangled from the cold, leather-covered table on which I sat.

All I could do was listen and breathe. Ringing of the office phones and the mellow tone of the receptionist’s voice.

Shallow whispers through the heavy wooden door from passing nurses. The clinging of my shoelace aglets as they hit the metal edge of the table while I furiously swung my legs out of nervousness.

Knock knock. She was here.

“Hello Esther! How are you doing today, Miss?”

I reply that I am doing well and mentally prepare myself for the questionnaire that will soon be taking place.

Having finished my first year of college in May 2014 my life at this point was successful.
I had a boyfriend, a college career, above-average GPA, a declared major, and more support than I could ever imagine. I was even a Christian!

Nothing could mess up what I had.

Though this life I had was beyond what I would have wished for, it was not one I upheld to the potential of keeping.

It was one I had thought of and attempted to end several times.

Past and present …

It was a life that I felt belonged to me and I could do whatever I wanted with it. It was mine and therefore if I did not find the meaning I needed it would be quick to just get rid of it.

“So you’ve been suicidal since we have last spoken?” said the doctor.

Suicidal?! No, I just wanted to have control of my life. To have my life be mine. To not have the perfect life that everyone I knew wanted for me.

After a long detailed conversation and trying to pull out of denial, my doctor was ready for a diagnosis.

Depression and anxiety were a given because they ran in my family. It was something we all pretended not to have, but all struggled with.

A couple of us weren’t lucky enough to only take a medication and learn that we could go on with our lives.

Bipolar Disorder. It is an ugly word that I still to this day have trouble saying aloud.

Isn’t that what crazy people have?

I watched documentaries, videos, WebMD-searched and Googled all the information I could. All of it was the same information to educate me.

I was definitely crazy.

When I gained knowledge of the moment that day at the doctor’s office she gave me a few medications and said it all starts with trial and error.

What was that supposed to mean?

I knew she had meant the medicine; you try one and if does not work you move on the next, but she had a deeper meaning when she said it.

The day I walked out of that office and took my first sharp breath of cold winter air since hearing I was “crazy,” my life took a change that I would have never imagined.

cra·zy: ˈkrāzē/
|informal, adjective|
: a mentally deranged person

Deep within the thoughts of my thinking machine, I pondered the word … crazy. I tried to define what I believed it to truly mean.

Time continued to go on, leaving me without answers. “Was it a feeling or a thought? Did it have to do with my actions or my ideas?”

At this point, I had dropped fairly low in my road to stability.

That boyfriend no longer existed … and neither did the above-average GPA, strong Christian faith or endless amounts of support.

I began to feel helpless and out of touch with all my family and friends.

It was one day that soon changed the meaning I defined myself as … crazy.

I shared my testimony one evening with a person, making a point to emphasize the experience of disorder so they could better understand it.

The person’s end reaction was … “oh you are just crazy …”

It was like a dagger to the heart. She made me see my disorder for what it really was … crazy.

To me it was myself who was crazy, but in reality it was the disorder itself. I made a change instantly, learning it did not define who I was as a person, how I lived or thought.

It changed the whole way I viewed that word from the moment someone else spoke it to me. With that I was able to change my attitude and hate toward my mental illness.

I embrace my mental illness for what it is and will continue to fight against what others see as “crazy.”

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Esther Gilliam

Esther Gilliam

Esther Gilliam is a journalist and videographer for MBU Timeline. Gilliam is a senior who is majoring in communication studies, with an emphasis in audio and video, and a minor in journalism. She works for AMP Campus Ministries as a Audio & Visual Intern and enjoys planning their weeknight worship, Thursday Night Live. Gilliam goes on missions to England, where she fulfills her passion for Christ by working with people and hearing their stories. Although, she is a workaholic and drinks more coffee than the Average Joe, Gilliam loves running, eating odd foods and spending time with her people.

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