I remember sitting in Tina’s little cubicle.
I remember Tina.
A fairly small Greek woman who was introduced as my new psychologist, well, at least until I felt better.
I remember how I got there.
My grandma referred me.
She referred my aunt and my aunt's daughter too. She had referred my mom, but my mom refused to listen to anyone tell her she was an unfit mom. My aunt was losing her mind. My grandma was losing her mind because of my aunt, and my aunt's daughter had highly problematic emotional problems.
Before I saw Tina there was another woman who counseled me, Ally. She sat across from me, in her medium-sized leather chair ill equipped for her tiny frame and goes, “If I had to diagnose you, I’d say you have depression and a nervous disorder.” I was so relieved to finally get a label. I wanted to scream my pre-ejaculated diagnosis to the world.
Why, you ask? I grew up with a mom who had, but was never diagnosed with, a nervous disorder. It affected me greatly as I'm sure it affected her. Growing up I couldn't do anything without being insecure and frazzled. My cure was, supposedly, to just “get thicker skin.” I would go into classes hyperventilating; I begged my mom, with tantrums, in front of my freshman class, the first day of high school, to not do this to me, to not make me do something I didn't want to: be around people who I thought would judge me, because in my mind that’s all they were doing. A student in class would start giggling and my eyes would tear up because I thought that laugh was directed towards me. Because of my impulsive thoughts I missed out on a lot of what could have been nostalgic high school memories.
I just wasn't getting it, I thought. Then I met Tina and she reframed my train of thought. “Depression is like a disease,” she sympathized as tears rolled down my cheek one at a time as if they wanted to be fair and give each other recognition; my family didn’t acknowledge this statement. Depression was something that was trumped and not coddled.
Depression is handled in many different shapes and forms. You have the cutters, the chainsmokers, the physically abusive and or mentally abusive, the pill-poppers, and then you have me: a feather pillow pincher. My aunt gave me my first feather pillow before first grade and she gave me my second my sophomore year of high school. At the time, I didn't realize how important the introduction to this type of pillow would be to me throughout my years. I don't know exactly how it happened, but my feather pillow became my escape from reality. I pinched it when I was nervous and it had become a major distraction and eventually it became a nervous tick. I pinched it when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was nervous, but mainly it kept me in tune with myself and distracted me from self-mutilation.
Today I stand incredibly tall, four foot eight and a half inches, with short brunette butch-like hair, hazel eyes, identifying as a non-radical feminist/lesbian who likes androgynous women, particularly one named Gabi, who still at 23 years of age pinches her sophomore year feather pillow and I deal with my differently abled characteristics differently than I did years ago, pre-Ally and Tina, but I'm not over it. Over time I have come to accept and acknowledge people's different ways of handling life because we can't all tell ourselves to “grow thicker skin” and get over who our chemically defined beings are at this very moment. We can figure out how to deal with ourselves, but to ignore it isn't possible for some. Some people can tell themselves to get over it and have that work for them as an individual. It’s how they cope and that’s great, but others, like me, with highly problematic nervous problems, can't look at that phrase as a solution to the problem.
As an American Sign Language Major, I am constantly learning and taking example of Deaf Culture and how its people adapt to their differently abled bodies. It’s captivating to see and be a part of a whole different type of communication. Relying on my body language, facial gestures, and hand movements, I become a part of a whole other world and I love what sign language embraces. As a member of a family where mental illnesses are present and constantly surfacing and as a writer it’s my duty to sign, to acknowledge, to reiterate and to write: When there’s a will there’s a way and where there’s a Jazmine there’s a story to tell about it.