Johari’s Living Autobiography

This series is my living biography, here my voice, my life is shared with transparency and reflection. I’ll share my experiences as a young African American woman, an academic with mental illness and a child abuse survivor.

If that is interesting to you read on!

This is SquareOne of Many

This is a trigger WARNING for the following

  • Mental Illness
  • Self-harm
  • Child abuse
  • Honesty & Transparency



I have never done something like this before.

Sharing my story, or even talking about my childhood is something I avoid.

Then I went to graduate school states away from the little resources that I had built throughout my undergraduate education.

Graduate School made me work on my whole self, my past trauma made its way into my present. Negative memories started leaking in right before graduate school. I was on a study abroad trip that brought nightmares about being powerless again. I went back to that place where my life was not my own. They could hurt me, however, they deemed fit, my life was in my parent’s hands.

It was then, those nightmares that started inflating my depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I was about to feel the consequences of having mental illness and trauma in my life. As my mental health ultimately tore me away from my graduate studies. I wasn’t off to a great start and I had no way of knowing that I would end up having panic attacks at the start of many study sessions. This hasn’t happened to me before. My home life had entered my school life, the only solace I had.

I expected to feel waves of self-doubt as I entered this world of accomplished academics and practitioners. The difference was, I didn’t have a break. There wasn’t a break from my psychological distress, there wasn’t a time I wasn’t anxious. No, this calm wouldn’t come until after I kicked out of grad school.

My little brother in myself 2003
My little brother and me [2003]
Graduate School & Self-Destruction

I was unable to find a way out of my life in my parent’s hands. I had to change how I approached school and my health. I needed professional health and medication.

I should have spent my time in stats absorbing the intricacies of Advance Multiple Regression, but often I was just fighting back tears from forming and trying to remember how to breathe. Panic attacks from studying, depression spirals from the stress of getting kicked out of graduate school, and all that shit from my past.

My childhood entering my present day was destructive and I lost control. I lost any place

Mental Health broke into my education, my safety net, gone.

Note. This is the type of consistency and support parents normally give.

I’d like to start with school because my education saved my life. It has given me a vehicle towards a career and towards myself. I’ve always loved going to school because I wasn’t trapped within my toxic abusive Christian home.

At school, I could be challenged, and religion wasn’t the compass to academic success. At home, every part of my life was governed by my parent’s interpretation of the bible.

Johari [2017]
@joharirose [2017]
Running Away, my Childhood Dream

The journey home would trigger panic, it would build as I sat in the back of the school bus. I would sit with my overpackaged backpack searching for a distraction. My distraction was usually reading fiction about surviving in the wild.

As an adult, I now know why I read fiction novels with the theme of wilderness survival. I want to run away from my horrific childhood depression and my oppressors. I fantasized about running away and drew maps with escape routes.

I remember one failed attempt at running away. I was a tiny child and my mother’s ass had powerful stopping power. I was running for the door, I was really depressed and thoughts of escaping into the woods next to our apartment was a viable option.

This attempt at running away ended with my tiny body being suffocated by my mother’s grab and sit tactics, and I  had to stay calm and manage the panic creeping into my chest.

I would start feeling the pressure building in my chest, maliciously shocking my body into the ‘proper’ mindset.

I was trying to leave a house that wouldn’t let me go.

If you want to learn more about my life at SquareOne, then stay tuned for SquareTwo of this series.

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