Others are more ashamed of my mental health problems than me

From Time to Change

“Crazy Eddie” is a nickname one of my British school teachers gave me when I was attending primary school in West Africa, in an end of term review. I faked laughing along as I was mocked, as I had become accustomed to it, and beamed a deceitful smile. It became one of the few coping mechanisms I adopted while in denial. However, the embarrassment I used to face at that particular school was not always humored like this.

A previous West African teacher felt they could embarrass me out of my condition, which of course made it worse. My father informed the teacher of my condition, which had been diagnosed as hyperactivity disorder when I was five. The teacher then broadcast it to the class in my presence. I was only 10 and it was the first time I had ever heard about this, as my parents did not inform me. Consequently, I became the “class idiot” and punchline by both teachers and pupils.

Following this, we returned to the United Kingdom, where I was born. I faced similar bullying by schoolmates and teachers alike. Gradually, I dreaded the thought of attending school. Of course, I never articulated any of this. I internalized the stigmatization I received, and with my unrecognized conditions, it fueled an unhealthy pattern of self stigmatization. I didn’t like or respect myself, and it led to me tolerating and complying with a lot of abusive behavior directed towards me. I also became unexplainably anti-social towards those around me, not being able to articulate what was troubling me.

As I matured, the embarrassments grew heavier and more evident. I’d remember back to when I was nicknamed “Crazy Eddie” as a child, and it seemed easier to laugh off without needing an explanation. Multiple exams were resat, I was let go from various jobs and I avoided social interaction wherever possible.

Then, I was diagnosed with depression as an adult. Later when I was out of work, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post traumatic stress disorder. The most recent diagnosis has been Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The real shame behind these conditions isn’t mine.

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External Resources

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

Wounded Warriors PTSD Project

Warriors Journey Post Traumatic Stress

The Blue Ribbon Project: supporting victims of child abuse and youth in foster care

Faces of PTSD