As part of Mental Awareness Week (October 1st to 7th), three-time Divas Champion AJ Lee along with other Chicagoans were featured in a Public Service Announcement from Chicago Mag titled “Living with Mental Illness (and What to Know if You’re Not)” to share their experience of living with mental illness. Transcripts of AJ’s interview below.
On first being diagnosed with mental illness: “Finally being diagnosed but simultaneously [was] the most liberating, receiving feeling in the world. Getting an answer let me know that there was nothing wrong with me. I just had to work a little harder.”
Hiding her illness: “I was afraid to tell people that I was bipolar. I did not tell anyone while I was wrestling. And the ironic part was my character on television was labeled ‘the crazy chick’. My character was supposed to be unstable, out of her mind and in a way it was like hiding it in plain sight. Fans loved this character because of that. They embraced her crazy. It really taught me that when you were open about your flaws and you just put them out there, people are so accepting and forgiving and loving.”
Dealing with stigmas: “I’ve noticed that there is was more of a stigma in the Hispanic community. Machismo and this pride and being tough. We didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t have a lot of resources and so you just didn’t complain.”
Coming out with her mental illness: “Before my book came out, I wrote an essay basically coming out as bipolar. I got my first gray hair that day. I was so incredibly stressed out about just coming out to the world. Flood of support, not only just from people saying that they had my back and that they were proud of me but also the amount of people that were emboldened to tell me that they were also suffering too.”
Using the right words:” The word ‘crazy’ I feel people have used in this hurtful way and people have become afraid of it. I used it in my life kind of as a joke and it offended people immediately. And I want take that power away. When you take something and you wear it as a badge of honor, it can no longer be used as a weapon against you.”
On the importance of having a normal conversation: “That means if it’s not you, it’s someone you know. It could be someone you love. Educate ourselves and let people who are suffering know that they are not alone.”
Watch the full video below:
What did you think of the PSA video?