My name is Princess Mia-Talia Autumn Lowe, and I believe we are each entitled to be our very OWN prince and princess, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, identity, or mental health. I live in Orlando, Florida: The City Beautiful. I am currently a second year law student at Barry University School of Law, which I applied to in order to be an advocate for the mentally ill. I have a boyfriend named Maher Khalif, who works a 9-5 architectural job, while transitioning back into a new studies program at UCF. I have 2 cats (both since birth): Elmo (a deaf Siamese: 3 years old) & Ernie (a chunky tabby: 2.5 years old). I am a 3.5 years Active Duty Air Force Veteran, and this is my Mental Health Story.
In high school, I was a perfectionist. In middle school too. In elementary school too. I had to be #1 in my graduating class, which ended up being the #1 ranked public fine arts magnet school in the state of Georgia, which I did end up graduating in 2007 as #8 in the class, however 8 years later, I’ve discovered being the best and having the best isn’t the key to happiness. In high school as a senior in Augusta, GA, I interned for the regional offices of United States Senator Saxby Chambliss and United States House of Representatives Charlie Norwood at the same time after taking classes at the local university as a dual-enrolled high school student. However, I didn’t have close friends, and I coped with stress and social anxiety in many wrong ways. I had behavioral problems at school, by skipping, in fear that I wouldn’t make a 100% on a test and I even used alcohol to self-medicate from feeling alone. I was waitlisted at 2 Ivy League Undergrad Schools, Brown and UVA coming out of high school, but I attended Mercer University, after leaving home and not getting along with my parents. When I got to Mercer University in Macon, GA, I ran for Student Government as a Freshman and got the most votes out of the entering class, but I soon lost my spot on SGA due to a low GPA because I was self-medicating in all the wrong ways: partying, drinking, promiscuity. I dropped out of college after a marriage engagement went south, and joined the United States Air Force 4 months later, July 2009.
The Air Force taught me discipline and self-motivation, pushing myself harder than I ever could. However, my mental illness struck. I got confused in my identity. I felt scared, alone, confused, with shivers. One night when I felt like no one could understand my predicament, I took 70 OTC sleeping pills, after trying to drown myself in the bath tub whilst cello music was playing (I’m a violinist by the way). My body rejected the dose and I don’t recall everything, but I hit my head, and am lucky to be alive. I even have a cool Harry Potter scar on my forehead to prove it. J Ultimately, my coworkers, friends, relationships, family thought they knew what was best for me, but after being taken by law enforcement (who was called after I was found the next day) to a psychiatric hospital, I learned that Mental Health and feeling like you have a way to ask for help and that someone understands EXACTLY what you are going through is a good thing.
I was Honorably Discharged from the Air Force in Dec 2012, after my suicide attempt in October 2011, with an unfortunate array of hospitalizations in between, in an attempt to get the right support, medication, and feeling stable enough to survive and live again. In Dec 2012, I moved to Pensacola, FL and self-medicated with various negative relationships that did not provide a good, productive progress in the right direction. However, I managed to finish my degree from the University of West Florida in Professional Accountancy, which I began 6 months after entering into the Air Force. Education and moving forward is pivotal. I happily proclaim that I graduated the B.S.B.A. in Accounting, in August 2014, which is when I moved to Orlando to pursue my law degree in Mental Health Law, although there is no true exclusive “track” under this study. I read text and cases from both perspectives, but primarily from someone who has a mental illness. Recovery to me is this: nature, Disney songs, music, art, yoga, running, hygiene, nutrition, outdoors, fresh air, singing, reading, smiling, laughing/ giggling at silly things, observing, problem solving.
I hope you enjoyed my story. What does NAMI mean to me? Everything. NAMI stands for the liberation I have to express myself and help in the best way I can. As a Community Outreach volunteer for NAMIGO, I find fulfillment in a judgment-free zone, which I previously was unable to (whether due to my own judgment or not).
In summary, my name is Princess Mia. You have every right and entitlement to be your own princess and prince today, regardless of what you look like, where you’ve come from, and what your story is.