“Career Day” 08.05.22

When a person experiences severe mental trauma, it never departs. It fades a little, but it leaves a scar. I was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder almost twenty years ago, and ten years ago I was hospitalized. The doctors told me that my brain would recover from that trauma after two years, but apparently not. I cannot forget. The pain subsides, but it pilfers my memories.

There are some memories never forgotten, pieces of the past we remember fondly. The beginning of my dream is a memory that sticks with me. As a child, I was fascinated with words, and how to construct sentences. I loved to read. My creative life was built on that foundation. Crayons were my best friends, connected to my fingers like branches on a tree. When I mixed color with ink, there was no going back.

When I was in elementary school, I spent much of my time in the library. All of the students were working with all their might to read more books than any other. We were competing for the top score. Derrick Dendy was always in first place, and I was always right on his heels. I never caught up. He must have read more than he breathed, and never taken a bathroom break! When I wasn’t in the library, I was running outside during recess. Those activities kept me busy and filled my soul with a natural high. Aside from those past times, I was enjoying art class above all else. I was strenuously attempting to make the images in my mind transfer to the canvas, to no avail. I was so frustrated, but also tenacious; I was hungry for success. My parents witnessed my frustration, and provided art lessons in a quaint studio above a frame shop. I attended class every Thursday afternoon and loved every minute. While I was illustrating, I was writing. I wrote and illustrated books that only I would read, knowing they may never make it to print. I just enjoyed being with the characters and developing the stories. In the first grade, I won first place in the “Young Georgia Authors” competition for a story I had written, titled “A Cat Named Fred.” It was my first trophy and it is resting on a shelf in my house today.

My elementary school had a “Spirit Week,” and every day was themed. One day, we were to dress up for our dream jobs. Career Day. I wore my favorite green dress and toted my messenger bag full of paint, crayons, pencils, and paper. The typewriter was too heavy. How else is an author expected to dress? I prefer pajamas.

In the eighth grade, there was a similar activity. We were questioned about our future goals. My goal was to write something people wanted to read. I hope I have accomplished that feat.

I went to a performing arts high school, where I honed my skills. I attended college and majored in Fine Art. After my studies, I did my own thing; happy to be rid of authority figures and free to create whatever I please. I wrote, illustrated, and published two books about my relationship with my mental illness. I am coping, creating, and making my inner child smile.