May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I am here to share my story of my personal experiences with mental illness. Before I tell my story, I want to share some statistics with everyone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), mental illness affects tens of millions of people every year and half of them with mental illnesses receive treatment. So here's my personal story of mental illness. It is August 1993: I was five years old and started my first day of Pre-K. Being the new kid was difficult and troublesome. Interacting with the rest of the students was not easy. Growing up in Texas was great, but unfortunately, my parents were not the loving people that I expected them to be. Almost on a daily basis, I was ridiculed by them for numerous things, such as my thin appearance and not being able to communicate with people. My self-esteem went down and I became isolated, withdrawn, and unconnected. Within a week, my teacher noticed that something was not right about me. I was seen by counselors and my parents told me that I was diagnosed with autism. I didn't know what it was at the time, but one of the symptoms of the developmental disorder is having difficulties interacting with others. As a result of my diagnosis, I was put in special education classes from Pre-K through my junior year of high school. During that time, I was constantly bullied and my peers called me the worst names you can think of. It's hard to be upbeat when you're feeling worthless and defeated.
When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger. It's a developmental autism spectrum disorder. It impacts the individual's ability to communicate and read social situations. It’s mild, meaning I have problems conversing with other people, social awkwardness, and difficulties grasping certain things quickly. In school, I was in special education classes from Pre-K through my junior year of high school. I was made fun of and bullied because I was in these classes. Most people assumed that if you are diagnosed with a developmental disorder, it automatically means that you are “dumb” or “slow,” which is not the case. People with Autism or Asperger can accomplish remarkable things in life. As far as making friends, I didn’t have many of them in school or any mentors. Because of my Asperger and was really timid. I grew up in Arlington, TX and making friends was a lot more difficult, especially entering high school and in my early 20s. At times, I would be isolated and feeling lonely. In late November 2017, I found out that I was also diagnosed with PDD-NOS, which stands for "Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified." The symptoms include difficulties with routines and environments and difficulties with communicating with others.
Everyone had at least a famous person that we all have looked up to growing up. Going to an event to get a picture or autograph is an exciting moment in someone's life. In this article, I'm going to give my two cents of why I don't live my life through famous people. I know that sounds odd or unusual, but it's the truth. For most of my life, I have met many well-known public figures—mostly at conventions. People like Vic Mignogna, Kyle Hebert, J. Michael Tatum, Don Teems, and Ciara Renee. It was a great opportunity to meet and take pictures with these people. I'll always hold onto those memories by posting those pictures on my social media pages. I don't always share photos of a famous person that I met, because it's not my thing. I'll share a picture of one every now and then, but it's not an everyday thing. I don't want to come across as being a big shot or show off. It seems like a majority of people these days live vicariously through famous people: whether those people are reality TV stars, actors, or actresses. Some people do that because they feel that he or she knows them personally and is willing to defend them every single time. To be honest, it's sad and pathetic to see regular people do that, mainly because they probably don't have or never had any positive influences in their lives, which I can understand. Their lives probably have no meaning and they're constantly feeling unsatisfied about their lives. They want to see what it feels like to experience the life of that person.
The 80s: the decade that retro games were popular and enjoyable. The first game system that I had laid my hands on was the beloved Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It belonged to my father and I was mesmerized by it. My love of retro gaming started back in 1989 and I saw this awesome game console that had a few games and a great accessory called the NES Zapper. I was eager to try this electronic light gun accessory. The very first game I have played on the NES was Super Mario Bros. Unfortunately, I never made it past World 1-1. So I played a game called Duck Hunt, which required the NES Zapper. Growing up, I wanted to shoot the laughing dog so bad. Almost 30 years later, I still haven't done it. Every time that I would miss shooting the ducks, it would laugh at me. By the early 1990s, I knew that playing video games was something that I was good at. It was a hobby that I can enjoy. The NES is and will always be my first love, but I have played many games on different gaming systems. To this day, my favorite NES games are the following: Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, Contra, Super Contra, Bubble Bobble, Ninja Gaiden, Super Mario Bros. 3, Tecmo Bowl, Galaga, StarTropics, Wrath of the Black Manta, Pac-Man 1943: The Battle of Midway, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game.