Three Generations

Don't Stop By Just Evelyn

Story Contains

“A’ mal tiempo Buena cara”.

“A’ mal tiempo Buena cara” translates to bad weather, good face. Growing up this is what our grandparents and everyone tells us...kind of  “put on your happy face”, a makeup for your feelings.

I know for fact that my story is not as complex however If I can help 1 person, I made the word a better place. A little about me. I am the youngest of 6 siblings, (4 brothers from my father side), 1 sister from my mother’s side. The only one between my mom and dad. Daddy’s little girl.

Evelyn as a child.

When I was little, I believe I was diagnosed with ADHD or some attention deficit disorder. The mental health medicine in the 80’s in my country wasn’t the best, for me it was very difficult to focus, and to stay “mentally there” in the class, my imagination used to take me to the beach, my backyard and any place instead of the classroom.

I still can’t concentrate, if you are in a meeting with me, I am either quiet (if I lost interest), or all over the place. I have good friends that are helping me keep on track. I did take medication when I was little, (did not like the side effects), and my family went with private tutors instead of medicating me, and they did keep me very busy. Complementing the extra help with my education I always had a tutor after class and meetings with peers to help me understanding the assignments, all the way  from middle school to college. The extra help was to complete my homework or understand the assignment.

I did have weird incidents.

Anger: I can’t control and is associated with impulsiveness. It takes a lot to make me lose control, in middle school I would throw a chair once at a girl that was bugging me, I didn’t bother with arguing—I  just would get up and throw the chair, I told the teacher to fix it, as I was getting tired of being picked up.

I went back to my chair, without feeling anything went home and never mentioned anything to anyone, like the incident did not happened, I was mad but did not feel any other emotion (like concern or nerves for getting in trouble, didn’t feel).

Stress hives (I used to call it emotional allergies), I cannot control it, when I was little I found out that my dad was having an affair with my mom, I was probably 7 or 8, can’t remember. I didn’t tell anything to my mom, and kept playing like nothing happened. At night all my back and my neck was infested with a rare allergy. Diagnostic “stress allergy”. I never heard of such a thing, I didn’t cry that day or feel mad, actually I don’t remember feeling anything. But yes my body had a horrible reaction to the news. The same “stress hives” happened later in life when I found out that my dad had cancer, same thing, I don’t remember feeling sad, I was confused, my dad was a smoker so we knew something like that was going to happen anyways (so I was kind of mentally prepared).  My subconscious had a different plan.

"Always think the positive. Your subconscious doesn’t have good sense of humor”.

This is true, if you tell “as a joke” I am having a hard day on Mondays, your subconscious will say that you will have a bad day also on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. (Evelyn using a funny voice)

When I was little I always wanted to be a lawyer. As a teenager, I learned that my brain will freeze if I need to talk in public, I’m successful if I rehearse several times, or If I pretend that I am some else. That’s why when I am doing poetry I need music, or props or my ideas won’t flow—a wig or different makeup, or very loud clothes, will tell my brain that the show must go on and I won’t freeze (works even in my office presentations).

I know I can never compare myself with patients dealing with real mental health issues.

I also believe that mine never went into the next level because my parents provided the space for me to be creative and get talented, and my siblings supported all my projects. I truly believe that the additional support broke any insecurity chain, or depression chain, I have always been so busy with projects and extra classes after classes, I never really had a chance to feel, my mind was always into something.

My sisters deal with the attention problems—bipolar, all her life, our relationship was horrible, and I know everything would be different if we were prepared to learn how to live with someone dealing with mental health issues. It is not only for the patient but the entire circle around the patient that needs to be prepared. It is exhausting yes, but necessary, I wish the awareness existed when I was growing up.

My family had trouble finding the right medication for me, which is another reason I am not pro-medication. I still struggle with concentration (not too many people know this because I get the job done). A meeting with me is fun because I am all over the place. One bad quality I have is that I don’t like excuses, (can’t stand it), because it takes so much to get something done, when I ask for something and it is low quality or the person tells me a lazy excuse, it triggers me to the point I need to end the conversation or leave the place, my brain won’t process anything else, its funny.

That’s how I ended doing more work because I won’t even bother with the person.  Another reason why I do not have many close friends, I do not like to talk to people about me. I have a few “good friends” from my high school and few in my hometown, and of course my best friend—my mother.

Mario, Evelyn's son.
Evelyn and her son Mario at a performance.

Mario (my son)

I always wanted a boy, (a dance partner) lol. He was not a normal birth, took him longer to start breathing. At age of 2 or 3, we noticed he wasn’t 100% on his development, he still can’t hold a spoon the right way. He had odd behavior, and he was tested for autism, and it came out negative). He didn’t like small kids, not until he started kindergarten. If I can describe him he is awesome, (well I’m the mother). He is now in 4th grade and still receives EIP service. Yes, he had a physical therapist until second grade, speech therapy, special education teacher, and now that he is 10 he asks “what’s wrong with him”. It’s not that we hide that, but I don’t want him to think he has a disability. So, we always tell him that he has an amazing brain, that normal people don’t understand. He is super busy, and can’t focus, he is intense, impulsive, and very very loud.

Cecilia, Evelyn's mother.

My Mom (her name is Cecilia)

I can’t say anything bad about her, she did have mood swings after her hysterectomy, was controlled with hormone therapy and she was back to normal, and she was always intense and bossy, but she was also very flexible with me.

2017 was the beginning of the storm (after several tests, she ended up taking medicine for epilepsy). The doctor agreed that she was dealing with a severe depression she lost her mind completely and stopped sleeping—it was a nightmare.

Finally in 2018 her brain went off this time, she became dangerous to herself and ended up in the hospital in NY, from September 3 to sept 25, 2019—plus 5 ECT treatments and psychiatric medication for a very long time. Her diagnosis is still unclear, but she had been labeled with “severe major depression with psychotic features”. When I see the word “psychotic” on her diagnosis, I ask myself, is that something that I can have, is that in my DNA?

As of today, still too much to digest, and too little resources out there.

I know the only way I have been handling my busy boy and depressed mother, is to keep making art and culture possible. My family and friends think I do this to share my culture, its true 30%, but the other 70% is to have a safe place for my son to keep shining and to keep myself busy.

Tembleques, traditional headwear in Panama. Created by Evelyn.

"I am afraid if I stop, I will lose my mind".

“A’ mal tiempo Buena cara”.

“A’ mal tiempo Buena cara” translates to bad weather, good face. Growing up this is what our grandparents and everyone tells us...kind of  “put on your happy face”, a makeup for your feelings.

I know for fact that my story is not as complex however If I can help 1 person, I made the word a better place. A little about me. I am the youngest of 6 siblings, (4 brothers from my father side), 1 sister from my mother’s side. The only one between my mom and dad. Daddy’s little girl.

Evelyn as a child.

When I was little, I believe I was diagnosed with ADHD or some attention deficit disorder. The mental health medicine in the 80’s in my country wasn’t the best, for me it was very difficult to focus, and to stay “mentally there” in the class, my imagination used to take me to the beach, my backyard and any place instead of the classroom.

I still can’t concentrate, if you are in a meeting with me, I am either quiet (if I lost interest), or all over the place. I have good friends that are helping me keep on track. I did take medication when I was little, (did not like the side effects), and my family went with private tutors instead of medicating me, and they did keep me very busy. Complementing the extra help with my education I always had a tutor after class and meetings with peers to help me understanding the assignments, all the way  from middle school to college. The extra help was to complete my homework or understand the assignment.

I did have weird incidents.

Anger: I can’t control and is associated with impulsiveness. It takes a lot to make me lose control, in middle school I would throw a chair once at a girl that was bugging me, I didn’t bother with arguing—I  just would get up and throw the chair, I told the teacher to fix it, as I was getting tired of being picked up.

I went back to my chair, without feeling anything went home and never mentioned anything to anyone, like the incident did not happened, I was mad but did not feel any other emotion (like concern or nerves for getting in trouble, didn’t feel).

Stress hives (I used to call it emotional allergies), I cannot control it, when I was little I found out that my dad was having an affair with my mom, I was probably 7 or 8, can’t remember. I didn’t tell anything to my mom, and kept playing like nothing happened. At night all my back and my neck was infested with a rare allergy. Diagnostic “stress allergy”. I never heard of such a thing, I didn’t cry that day or feel mad, actually I don’t remember feeling anything. But yes my body had a horrible reaction to the news. The same “stress hives” happened later in life when I found out that my dad had cancer, same thing, I don’t remember feeling sad, I was confused, my dad was a smoker so we knew something like that was going to happen anyways (so I was kind of mentally prepared).  My subconscious had a different plan.

"Always think the positive. Your subconscious doesn’t have good sense of humor”.

This is true, if you tell “as a joke” I am having a hard day on Mondays, your subconscious will say that you will have a bad day also on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. (Evelyn using a funny voice)

When I was little I always wanted to be a lawyer. As a teenager, I learned that my brain will freeze if I need to talk in public, I’m successful if I rehearse several times, or If I pretend that I am some else. That’s why when I am doing poetry I need music, or props or my ideas won’t flow—a wig or different makeup, or very loud clothes, will tell my brain that the show must go on and I won’t freeze (works even in my office presentations).

I know I can never compare myself with patients dealing with real mental health issues.

I also believe that mine never went into the next level because my parents provided the space for me to be creative and get talented, and my siblings supported all my projects. I truly believe that the additional support broke any insecurity chain, or depression chain, I have always been so busy with projects and extra classes after classes, I never really had a chance to feel, my mind was always into something.

My sisters deal with the attention problems—bipolar, all her life, our relationship was horrible, and I know everything would be different if we were prepared to learn how to live with someone dealing with mental health issues. It is not only for the patient but the entire circle around the patient that needs to be prepared. It is exhausting yes, but necessary, I wish the awareness existed when I was growing up.

My family had trouble finding the right medication for me, which is another reason I am not pro-medication. I still struggle with concentration (not too many people know this because I get the job done). A meeting with me is fun because I am all over the place. One bad quality I have is that I don’t like excuses, (can’t stand it), because it takes so much to get something done, when I ask for something and it is low quality or the person tells me a lazy excuse, it triggers me to the point I need to end the conversation or leave the place, my brain won’t process anything else, its funny.

That’s how I ended doing more work because I won’t even bother with the person.  Another reason why I do not have many close friends, I do not like to talk to people about me. I have a few “good friends” from my high school and few in my hometown, and of course my best friend—my mother.

Mario, Evelyn's son.
Evelyn and her son Mario at a performance.

Mario (my son)

I always wanted a boy, (a dance partner) lol. He was not a normal birth, took him longer to start breathing. At age of 2 or 3, we noticed he wasn’t 100% on his development, he still can’t hold a spoon the right way. He had odd behavior, and he was tested for autism, and it came out negative). He didn’t like small kids, not until he started kindergarten. If I can describe him he is awesome, (well I’m the mother). He is now in 4th grade and still receives EIP service. Yes, he had a physical therapist until second grade, speech therapy, special education teacher, and now that he is 10 he asks “what’s wrong with him”. It’s not that we hide that, but I don’t want him to think he has a disability. So, we always tell him that he has an amazing brain, that normal people don’t understand. He is super busy, and can’t focus, he is intense, impulsive, and very very loud.

Cecilia, Evelyn's mother.

My Mom (her name is Cecilia)

I can’t say anything bad about her, she did have mood swings after her hysterectomy, was controlled with hormone therapy and she was back to normal, and she was always intense and bossy, but she was also very flexible with me.

2017 was the beginning of the storm (after several tests, she ended up taking medicine for epilepsy). The doctor agreed that she was dealing with a severe depression she lost her mind completely and stopped sleeping—it was a nightmare.

Finally in 2018 her brain went off this time, she became dangerous to herself and ended up in the hospital in NY, from September 3 to sept 25, 2019—plus 5 ECT treatments and psychiatric medication for a very long time. Her diagnosis is still unclear, but she had been labeled with “severe major depression with psychotic features”. When I see the word “psychotic” on her diagnosis, I ask myself, is that something that I can have, is that in my DNA?

As of today, still too much to digest, and too little resources out there.

I know the only way I have been handling my busy boy and depressed mother, is to keep making art and culture possible. My family and friends think I do this to share my culture, its true 30%, but the other 70% is to have a safe place for my son to keep shining and to keep myself busy.

Tembleques, traditional headwear in Panama. Created by Evelyn.

"I am afraid if I stop, I will lose my mind".

Just Evelyn

I have witnessed the power of art, music and culture—one of these will transform your life and the lives of people around you.

What I Learned Living With Bipolar Disorder
Malisa Nguyen
Writing
Bipolar Beastie: Confessions From Quarantine
Elora Lyda
Art
The “Looking-Glass Self”
Brave Anonymous
Writing

Everyone has a story. We want to hear yours.

If you’d like to submit a story or creative piece, visit our submissions page. We accept submissions at any time, from anyone, about anything, in any form.
Submit a Story

Share Your Support

Comment Box is loading comments...