I am a 53-year- old, single woman, living in Southeast MN. I was diagnosed with a mental illness when I was14. I had developed a penchant for drinking 4 years earlier. Despite my diagnosis, many members of my family and what few friends I had, simply thought I was a bad, aloof, violent, mouthy adolescent and refused to accept my illness. I was taken off my medication 6 weeks after being put on them because my parents got the “What will the neighbors think?” syndrome. Of course, my mood plummeted. My first suicide attempt was less than 2 years later. Obviously, having failed in my attempt, drew ire from me and I became more confrontational, physically and verbally. I broke a student’s jaw and threw my French horn at my band conductor, amongst other things. Somehow I made it through high school, without being hospitalized in a psychiatric ward.
My Freshman year of college started off impressively. I was selected for the 12-member Chamber Singers, a rare feat for a Freshman. I was also accepted into the Concert Choir and the band, as well. My depression ebbed and flowed (mostly flowed) and I was pretty much drinking like a fish. The combination nearly derailed me and I was given a stern warning, no, make that a threat, that if I ever came to rehearsal under the influence again, I would be terminated immediately from the music department. Somehow I managed to stay clean and sober, at least for their classes.