More Than Just a Monologue
10/6/17
WRITTEN BY: Mindy Bartleson
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Mindy is self-publishing a memoir about growing up with chronic illness and the importance of mental health. This is an excerpt. 


Sometimes I do a pretty good job of holding onto things that represent something or mean a lot to me. A piece of paper I found as I was moving to Boston in 2015 was one of those things.

Let’s take a visit back to May of 2011 during my senior year of high school.

I wonder if these people realize I’m not oblivious. I know exactly what’s going on. I walk back in the room. All chatter stops. HELLO! I’m not faking this. Can’t you see the look on my face? Can’t you tell the difference? I can still remember the first time I noticed. I can’t remember how old I was …

‘You know you’ll never be able to go anywhere or do anything because of this, right?’ I remember the whole table going silent.

My whole life, filled with doubt or snide remarks. Sometimes it stung a little, but it wore off. Mostly it adds to my drive now. I aim to prove them wrong. I will not let the fact, they think I fake it and I won’t go anywhere, stop me.

Your family is the first place you notice how little support you have. At school, the voices fill the empty space. It will make me who I am. It will give me a place as familiar as home.

But people don’t understand how difficult it can be. It’s not something I can shut off or always control. I don’t know all of it. Somethings I still have to guess at. It’s continuous. I have to keep track all the time. It can make me feel like crap to be honest. But I try to move past it.

I’m going places. Nothing or no one can stop me. I’ve already begun the steps of proving everyone wrong. I’m not finished yet, but I’m on my way. As I go towards the light at the end of the tunnel with this new beginning I’ve been given, all I’ll say is this:

‘Hi, I’m diabetic, and just so you know — nothing is standing in my way.’”

Say hello to angry 18-year-old Mindy performing a monologue she wrote for her final for theatre senior year (I got an A). Needless to say, by this point in my life, I was incredibly bitter and incredibly angry about a lot of things, but especially diabetes and its interaction with the rest of the world. Now, six plus years later, the anger has subsided (for the most part). I still have moments these memories or feelings make me cringe, and I still wonder why. I get worked up when I find out bullying is still happening to people (with or without diabetes). I couldn’t even look back at high school without anger and sadness until late into my sophomore year of college.

In high school, people said I was faking my blood sugars and made judgmental comments more and more. I’m not saying this didn’t happen in middle or elementary school, but it became more common and more intense in high school. Every time I left a classroom to treat my blood sugar. Every time I needed to step to the side for just a moment. Every time I said anything. Every moment was filled with shaming looks and judgement.

Apparently I was faking even having diabetes at one point … ? I still cannot wrap my head around this. I had been going to school with some of these people since kindergarten. So, I faked it every year since 1st grade? That’s a long time and a lot of money to spend on faking something!

My senior year was my final straw. Senior year was ROUGH to say the least, but in my mind college was around the corner. I saw the crumbling of friendships and the realizations that people change. I saw how something you once loved could cause stress and anguish. But underneath all of that? I saw hard work pay off more so this year than I ever had up until that point — and truth be told — that and my upcoming fresh start became my driving factors to keep going forward.

For our final in theatre, our theatre director asked us to write a list of 10 possible monologue ideas. My ideas were filled with diabetes camp, my diagnosis, my dad, and a few others I cannot quite remember, but I settled on the idea I wrote above. I had recently discovered that an entire class would make comments whenever I wasn’t there so it was fresh on my mind. I should be over this diabetes thing already (apparently). I had had enough, and for once I was not going to be silent or I would completely explode. I had something to say. The quiet girl who rarely stood up for herself, wanted to leave with a bang.

Of course, I said that none of it bothered me. That their comments and looks didn’t get to me. I would never give them that satisfaction. But to be perfectly honest? Of course it got to me. Of course it stung. What was going on was still bullying. There were moments I most definitely cried. Sometimes at home, sometimes from my car with “Paramore” blasting, and occasionally I would hide in the safety of the band room. I wouldn’t give them evidence that their judgements and remarks made imprints on my memory. But just because that all stung, and I cried, doesn’t mean that I was going to let it stop me or ruin me. Feelings are okay!

Writing the monologue was therapeutic and healing, but there’s something about performing a piece that hits close to home. Something about performing your own words instead of a stranger’s (even though I definitely think that can still be powerful)… I felt a wave of calmness and satisfaction fall over me after performing it to the class.

The added bonus to this monologue? In my class were a few of the very people I had something to say to. Maybe they didn’t think it applied to them, but that wasn’t the point. This was for me.

So I performed my monologue, got my A, just days before high school graduation.

There’s something about not remaining silent. Something about speaking up for yourself that is good for the soul. Even if nothing changes (which can be disappointing), at least I did something. Change is great, but that isn’t always the point. It’s not always about moving mountains in the world. Sometimes, well I think a lot of the time, it’s about building or even moving mountains within yourself. I didn’t do what I had always done for the majority of my life and sat by while people trampled all over me or completely lost my cool and snapped. Yes, the monologue was a rant, but it was constructive and did so much for the very little confidence I possessed back then.

Sure, words and actions hurt (of course they do), but there were (and still are) things I knew and held close to my very core. Eventually wounds heal, maybe it takes years, and in all honesty I think it always leaves a mark of some form. You don’t leave situations, good or bad, without them having some kind of impact on your life.

No one could take away the words I wrote and then spoke in that theatre. Those are still all mine. No one could take away the fact that I was graduating high school and thinking ahead to my future. That was and still is all mine even if my bitterness isn’t my main focus on looking back anymore.

You can follow Mindy on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her blog “There’s More to the Story.


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Mindy Bartleson

Mindy graduated Cum Laude from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and a minor in Sociology. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on March 8, 2000 when she was 7, and she has been involved in the diabetes community since then. She thoroughly enjoys diabetes camp, travel, crafts, reading and being awkward. She blogs about life, diabetes, mental health, and women's health on her blog, There's More to the Story. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @mindy_bartleson as well as on Facebook.