I Am Not Crazy

By Michelle Mayes
In Hope & Healing
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I would say that it’s safe to assume that the summer between junior and senior year of high school for most students is stressful. It is a time filled with studying for college entrance exams, taking college entrance exams, starting college applications, and writing essays for college applications. My high school, like many others, offered a quick one-day breakdown tutorial on how to navigate college applications and how to begin to write your college essays. To me this sounded like a great tool, so one day on my summer break, I showed up ready to learn how to apply to be a college application whiz.

The morning was a discussion about various application portals that I found helpful. The afternoon was all about college essays, especially since the prompts on Apply Texas had just recently been released. One of the prompts was a prompt as old as time: “What is a difficulty from your past that you had to overcome, and how has that shaped you today?” At that point in my life, I hated interview prompts like that. I never really knew what to say, and I had lived a pretty blessed life compared to others that I had known. The only thing I had really struggled with was my mental health, especially in ninth grade when I experienced a true heartbreaking season of anxiety. So, with the 30 minutes I was given to write, I wrote about the mental health struggles I had faced and overcome that ninth-grade year.

Proudly, I handed over my rough draft to the school’s librarian who was looking over rough drafts and giving tips and pointers to students. I sat impatiently as she read my essay. She finished reading it, put the paper down, turned to me, and said, “This will not work. No university will want to accept a crazy person. Write about something else.”

I was devastated. Not only had she rejected my work, but she had also rejected my past. She told me I was crazy. I had no idea how to respond, so I didn’t. I was ashamed that I even wrote the draft to begin with. I sat in that shame for longer than I care to admit.

But I got lucky. The only university that I wanted to attend didn’t ask for any essays. I was glad because the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass myself again.

That shame I felt from the librarian’s words has always stuck with me. As time has passed, I have felt anger, shame, sadness (both for her and myself), forgiveness, and some more anger. After that, though, I was done. The switch had flipped, and I was determined that one of my life’s missions would be to help people never be ashamed of their struggles with mental health. Too many people have been made to feel obsolete and unloved because of the mental struggles and trauma that they carry. This is not okay.

Every time I think about being called crazy, I circle back around to two points.

Number 1: I did exceptionally well in college. I brag to myself about all the amazing things I accomplished, and there are times that I wish I could tell the librarian about all this crazy girl’s awesome success stories. (Summa cum laude, Dean’s List, the President’s List, countless scholarships and awards…)

Number 2 (and the most important one): I always circle back to a verse in Acts 10. The apostle Peter has a vision where he encounters Jesus. Jesus instructs Peter to go out and preach the good news to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were considered an unclean people, and Peter was not about to go down and interact with the unclean. After Peter expressed his unwillingness to the Lord, Jesus responded with, “…What God has cleansed you must not call common (Acts 10:15 NKJV).”

Now I know Jesus was talking about the Gentiles, but I believe He is making more than just a reference to the Gentiles. I believe He is referencing all his children. As children of God who declare Jesus as Savior, we are made clean and righteous in God’s eyes. That doesn’t mean that our lives are now rainbows and butterflies, but it does mean that we have a hope greater than life itself. When the struggles of life like anxiety, depression, OCD, anorexia, bipolar, and other mental illnesses come, our hope is not gone. We know that we are children of God. We know He is present and walks with us through the pain, and we know that He does not see a crazy unclean common person. He sees an extraordinary son or daughter that He loves beyond all measure.

So yes, I was called crazy. Yes, there are still some issues of forgiveness that God and I have to work out. But I am not defined by crazy, I am only defined by God. I am only defined as the child He sees, that He loves me. I am a child of the King. Being a princess trumps being called crazy any day.

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