“When Good Grades Aren’t Enough: Mental Illness, Stress, and My Sexual Identity” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 15

Growing up I was taught at a very young age the only way to become successful was to earn a 4.0 GPA. A high GPA meant acceptance into the best universities across the country. So I pushed myself to earn nothing but the best grades so I wouldn’t disappoint my parents. Year after year I continued to beat myself up if I received anything less than an A. But then something happened that would change my life forever.

My mom had a psychotic break.


Jacquelyn (Pictured far left), her siblings, and mother (Far right).

She was diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar disorder. Witnessing the acts of mania my mom exhibited scared me – she did things that I thought only a “crazy” person would do. My mom was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for months on and off for a whole year. I was 13 at the time and remembered absolutely dreading going to visit her. Everything was locked and I thought that the patients were treated like prisoners. My mom’s doctors even made me sit in a conference with my mom and her psychiatrist asking if I wanted my mom to get better. That to me was scarring – of course I wanted her to get better but not in a place like a psychiatric ward.

It was all too much for me to handle.

Coping: This Is Who We Are