November 7th, 2017

This aptly titled work which was originated by Rhonda L. Hamilton, is about a young woman whose plight growing up as a female in the inner city, and whose life was deeply affected by being a child rooted in the mental health community, intends to capture the delicate manner in which she fragilely exists between sanity and insanity as she goes about her daily life. Dysfunctional Diva is a fictional testimony, based on non-fictional accountings of the seemingly endless challenges she faced while navigating the unfortunate realities of her very urban life.

Dysfunctional Diva was the moniker she gave herself as a means of rationalizing all of the daily negotiations she made with herself for the sole means of surviving and escaping the life that she inherited, being raised by family members and having a mom who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, when Rhonda was just 10 years old. Those negotiations would later show themselves in the form of regretful memories and painstaking recollections of a life full of dysfunction. She does not really remember when she started to “secretly” refer to herself as a “Dysfunctional Diva”.

She suspects it was during the time that her 1 st marriage began to fall apart and she began working 16 to 20 hour days to shield the hurt and disappointment she felt within. She began smoking cigarettes and agonizing over the slightest unmanaged detail or event in her life. She found herself constantly immersed in her work and made little time for expressions and shows of affection. She believed in GOD and the universal order of things, however, somehow she felt lost at times and often questioned her ability to be happy or to eject happiness on to others. She realized that something was not quite right. She noticed the sluggish manner in which she went about her daily tasks. She also noticed that in spite of how she felt, there was no one that she could trust enough to explain how she was truly feeling, or why.

She knew that living in the city and especially in her neighborhood, ain’t nobody got time to be sick, when the bills are due. So she did what she knew to do, which was to suck it up and get to work. She had been here before. She recalled the numerous times that she imagined herself slamming her head into the wall, just to make the voices inside her head stop. She wondered if this meant she was crazy. Surely, if she spoke to someone her cover would be blown and then she would have to publicly live her shame over and over again, each time she went about her daily life.

Were there others like me, she pondered, others who were forced to maintain an existence of normalcy underneath a veil of massive, internal mental eruptions? How were they coping? Was there some secret underworld in which these heroic “she-ra’s” escaped to and somehow enjoyed a temporary reprieve from the daily struggles of being moms, significant others, wives, teachers, doctors, students, clergy men, etc. She realized that the Dysfunctional Divas such as herself were vastly starting to run out of options for self- medicating and fading in to the background hoping for things to get better. She had grown fearful of her inability to manage the unmanageable parts of herself and the worst part is she was starting not to know the difference between the two.

She began to explore the root of her dysfunction as a means of establishing a “pathway of hope” for the many brave “Divas” whose journey she knew was still ongoing. She too had been fearful of dealing with the Stigma associated with being labeled as mentally challenged. She didn’t do anything to be branded as such, and yet it was a part of her make up some-how. On most days she felt fine, it was just those moments when she found herself lethargically unable to ignore the loud noises she heard within. She wasn’t mentally ill surely she wasn’t because if that were the case, she would not be able to work her job and take care of her family day in and day out.

What options did she have, her job depended on her and after all she is the back bone of the family. She was too busy with preparing spreadsheets and dinner to actually wine about feeling anxious and unattached. She was consciously masking her own feelings to ensure that she kept her repetitious routine of being “super woman” no matter what the price. By all intents and purposes she was a “Dysfunctional Diva”, too stressed for words, and too proud to seek care… Thank goodness for support groups, proper diagnosis, and campaigns of awareness which are enabling women from all walks of life to get quality care and effective support that is needed to aid them as they continue to provide the necessary nurturing and compassion that our communities and societies need in order to function properly.

“Dysfunctional Diva is a light and airy approach to a very heavy topic of discussion, which is Mental Health and the delicate nature in which it is balanced as we attempt to go about our daily lives, as women. The truth is that there are many women living with diagnosed and undiagnosed mental challenges every day. The existence of daily routines that are inclusive of caring for every one besides them-selves, leave many women vulnerable to life sustaining diseases and illnesses. The harsh on-set of behavioral occurrences that become too complex to mask leave many women afraid to seek help.

This story was written to honor the many brave women in and around the Mental Health community, and to shed light on the importance and necessity of seeking help and recognizing those “Dysfunctional Divas” in our neighborhoods and families that deserve empowerment and to be uplifted because they should not have to suffer in silence. Our society is filled with “Dysfunctional Divas”, whose lives are often times short lived and unhealthy in nature. How many “Dysfunctional Divas” are in your family? What are you doing to help get them healthy? Are you a “Dysfunctional Diva”? How are future generations being impacted by the plight of today’s “Dysfunctional Diva”?

This was prepared to raise Mental Health awareness. It was created by Mrs. Hamilton as a preview of the intended book to be written. It is the 1 st in a series of stories to be written by this author on this subject matter. Rhonda L. Hamilton is a native Washingtonian with a family history of mental illness.

Mrs. Hamilton has held several professional licenses to include Real Estate agent & broker, Insurance Producer of life, health, annuities, property & casualty lines, in addition to being an ‘on-air” radio personality, “The Executive on Call”, as well as starting a non-profit with her Mom as an advocate for the “mentally intelligent” community, known as M.I. Mother’s Keeper.

Mrs. Hamilton currently also enjoys being a full time care giver and support system for her mom.

Join the discussion at #MMKDYSFUNCTIONALDIVA or 1-(844)-36HELP2.