“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.

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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