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All aboard the Crazy Train ;)

Crazy, insane, and psychotic are some of the names people who suffer from mental illnesses are called. Why? Because we were given something to fight internally. Something no one can see, which makes outsiders think they have the right to mock us. The countless times I have been bullied for going to the "looney bin" is something I'll never forget. It's also something I have used to publicly open up about my mental illness without feeling ashamed. I used to be so ashamed to admit it, because I was letting the words others spoke define me. But I now have the strength to say it: I've been hospitalized in a mental institution about 5 times out of my life.

It all started in 5th grade when I had my first encounter with anxiety. It squarely hit me, full force. And I was only a kid, so the best that could be done without realizing what was really happening would be to sit in the hall to calm myself down, which seemed to help a little. Eventually, it accelerated to having such bad panic attacks I would blackout and pass out. The principal of the elementary school I was at informed my mother it would be a good idea to send me to the mental hospital. Honestly, the first experience wasn't bad. However, that was a start to what was about to spiral out of control. After a week of being inpatient, I left the hospital on medicine for my anxiety, and all signed up with a therapist. Medicine was the easy fix, didn’t have to actually work on myself, but yet was able to numb all feelings towards life with countless psych meds. The summer after 5th grade, I met this new group of friends. Thought they were so cool and just wanted to be a part of the group. This led from being an innocent elementary school girl to doing drugs at 12 years old. They were my "friends" though, and that's just what they all did so it was natural I followed in the path. The anxiety and depression came out in the form of rebelling. I didn't respect anyone in my life, I hurt the people closest to me at a young age, and honestly, just didn't give a fuck about anything. This, naturally, only led to many more mental health issues and worsening the existing ones already present.

I was in and out of the mental hospital 6th and 7th grade a few times. Then when I was 13, sexual assault incident happened with a man who was 20. The day this happened was also the same day I ended up with a criminal record at age 13. I got caught up with this man with stealing a vehicle, driving it without a license, and wrecking the car. This led to being sent to away for about 6 months, where I was constantly reminded how it was my fault. That I needed to be permanently placed in a mental hospital because I was so "unstable". That the rebellious activity was unacceptable and no one could control me. And I reminded myself of that daily. because it was drilled into my head.

The ironic thing was: it was suppose to be a treatment facility, but when disclosed that you don't connect with your therapist, you are told "tough shit" and how you are the one to blame. You're given "homework" of useless packets, when in reality, you never even understood the underlying causes to influence the rebellious activity yourself. Just told to "do what you are told", "complete therapy" and "participate", or the "staff" had every right to restrain you for not doing what you are told. That was great. Felt it really helped me to take full advantage of the "treatment", being scared if you do one thing wrong. "Grown adults are going to hold you down, and if you keep 'acting up' they have every right to medicate you".

The "staff" was so involved in your personal life and pretended to put on show about caring. In reality, they just wanted to voice their opinions about how you are a whore due to the age you lost your virginity and worthless for being placed in there to try to cope with the fact of being assaulted. Though that's another fucked up story for another day. The extent of the treatment received at this facility was being put on more medicine, torn apart, and having to fake like everything was perfect. I had to show I was a "changed person", because if I didn't, it was constantly threatened that I would be permanently placed in a institution until I as at least 18 years old. Constantly being prescribed more and more medicine instead of discovering what was causing the behaviors.

As I do admit the way I was acting was unacceptable, my biggest regret is not understanding the true benefit in being self aware and working on my mindset at a younger age. After about 6 years after that incident, I tried therapy again which was a more positive experience, but there was still a lot of work I had to do for myself. Working on myself and my mindset isn't something I really took full advantage of until the past year. Instead, I self medicated and was nothing but self destructive towards every aspect in my life. There was a few more instances where I was sent away again short term. I can honestly say it was always a fear after the long term stay to even be admitted somewhere due to the staff reminding me how I needed to be locked away from society until I was an adult.

The medicine helped... with numbing all feelings I had. Which, truthfully, makes it a lot easier to act a certain way when you have no remorse or care for anything in life. Looking back it's almost scary thinking about how much I didn't care and the willingness I would go to prove my point. There was no telling me "no" or else I would have lost my mind on whoever said it. I would never say I was easy to be around during those years in my life, because I know for a fact I wasn't even enjoyable to be around. Whether it was school or my home life, I did not care who tried to say anything to me. If I did not agree with it, I would lash out and go to any extent to my prove my point. Now I look back and just wish I was able to grasp the concept of healing at a younger age, as oppose to thinking I was fine and that was just the kind of person I was.

During those years in life, I built a name for myself and not for anything positive, rather it was from what others heard or experienced. The name "Emily Steele" was not known for anything positive.

What I have learned from all this... is mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. My list of "diagnoses" would shock so many. I also know I don't identify with any of those labels. I can easily blame it on a chemical imbalance, the trauma or being a reckless teenager. However, I am a firm believer in owning up to my shit. And the way I acted, was unacceptable. Am I thankful for my experiences in mental hospitals? Yes and no. Tear you down to build you back up stronger is what I have always thrived on. For me, personally, the hospitals only made things worse. I know for some people they are great, and I would never discredit that. I will say not everyone has the same experience, so having the false reality that everything will be perfect when someone leaves a treatment facility is COMPLETE BULLSHIT. It takes a lot of individual work on finding the root causes of some behaviors. As I always say: self growth isn't pretty, but it's sure worth it. Though I still have my attitude of "no one can tell me shit and I'm going to do what I want", I have changed the mindset to use it in a useful way, such as starting a business and being so determined to do anything to achieve my goals. As I still have the mindset to never back down from a fight, I now take that a little less physical and I am up for the fight in life and will never back down from the challenges that try to knock you down in life. Nothing wrong with being a little "Crazy" ;)

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