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Disability Awareness Week : Evelyn Banda

Evelyn Banda

Name & Pronouns: Evey Banda (she/her)

Year: Senior (December 2021)

Major(s)/Minor(s): Psychology Major

A little about myself:

I'm originally from Houston, Texas. But after getting married and having a kid I moved to Killeen, Texas with my husband. He is an active duty member of the military back home at Fort Hood. I guess one thing I know for sure is I love talking to people. And I love getting to know new people, especially from different backgrounds and different majors because I feel like everyone has a little bit of something to teach me about the world. Since I’m originally from Texas, Minnesota has really opened a lot of doors for me in terms of getting to know other people who may share identical experiences as I do, or have completely different ones. That'll give me a bigger perspective on things and different topics and concepts that we share here on campus.

How my disability has impacted my life:

I originally came [to CSB/SJU]  in 2017, but I left for about a semester back at the end of 2018. I didn't return until that semester when COVID happened, and the reason being is during that time, I was first officially diagnosed with ADHD, as well as with depression and anxiety. And that time that I took off, it really gave me a lot of time to kind of reintroduce myself to myself, and figure out that what I have may be common, but it's special on its own. And as much as it sounds like a pretty smooth transition in figuring that out, it was actually pretty difficult because I come from a Hispanic culture and mental health as well as learning disabilities aren't really talked about, specifically more in the manner discussed in family environments.

Medication and environment adjustments were what helped me but medication is hard to come by when the dosage I use has to be made by scratch and falls into the line of being discontinued. Medication was a huge factor in moving to get help to treat my ADHD but it was something that made me queasy to think about because these medicines weren’t similar to tylenol or getting a flu shot. What I had taken in the beginning were stimulants and cannot be given out easily and for me, it was an extremely long process to get started when doctors could not find a proper dosage for me or have them properly send out my prescriptions to the pharmacy closest to me. The actual process of getting prescribed the medications is what disheartened me the most because if the doctors couldn’t help, who can? Who could I rely on to get myself “better”? The lack of accessibility to understand and gain proper care is what made me feel inadequate and the problem for everyone.

[My mom], her coming  from Mexico and not really getting a proper education in terms of  learning disabilities and mental health, was another part that made it challenging for me to approach this new piece of me. It was pretty rough those first few months, getting adjusted to being under a new diagnosis and having to explain to her what every little bit of information meant, specifically to get her to realize that it had nothing to do with her or her parenting style. As far as we see, no one else seems to have ADHD which makes me an outlier and in the spot of further speculation and criticism. Our conversations were cycles of confusion, despair, and hurt. It meant a lot of conversations starting off with gentle questions to full blown yelling and insults. Being told that I was crazy and my actions were a result of my craziness hurt. It hurt more when she would use my ADHD as the reason I am “unwell” and cannot live normally anymore. And for my mom, it's been her biggest worry that  I'll fail, that I won't graduate. There are times where she thinks I cannot be successful because of my ADHD. And if I don’t do well in one semester,  that'll mean another extended time where I'm struggling to finish off my degree, completing this image of being a failure in her mind. And, you know, it's kind of hard to have your mom not believe in your abilities, especially because I am now a mom. For my mom and I, we are slowly getting better but it definitely takes time.

How my disability functions as a strength in my life:

My ADHD really helps me know what's best for my environment, but also really understand other people's environment. Part of what I also find positive about my ADHD is my sense of excitement/openness to new experiences. I love talking and meeting new people who have something valuable to teach me. Many people on campus will know I can talk for hours on a variety of topics and concepts that intrigue me or simply to catch up. ADHD in girls and women have excessive talking or limited talking as a symptom and for me, it really depends on what is going on in my life and head. It can take a bad turn with my anxiety or depression but for the most part, it strengthens my ability to talk out loud with no filter.  It also plays into how active I am around here on campus and with people. I place myself to engage in multiple events with people from all over campus and it lets me get my social needs met. My ADHD opens my brain up for new experiences and memories, and even if I forget some memories, I always will remember the emotions behind each faded memory, face, and moment.

Barriers to accessibility I would like to bring to light/improvements for CSB/SJU:

I hope to see on campus more aid for students to gain access to proper treatments or medications. A resource that involves access to a psychiatrist who can help provide appropriate diagnoses revolving around learning disabilities and mental illnesses. For me, it is a constant battle between my ADHD and my depression and anxiety piggybacking on each other in my daily life. Having no idea whether what you are doing is what is best for you or having second thoughts as to continuing on is suffocating when you have different disabilities eating at you. It is difficult to find that type of help when you are out of state or have a strict health insurance plan. That is what I hope for.

“You can have a planner, and you can fill it out with all these things, like I have on mine, but at the end of the day, it's okay if you miss one or two things off of that planner. And the same thing goes where like, just life in general. Like if you were to ask me, when I was a freshman, what I had planned to do, I would go  like, “Oh, I just plan to graduate.” And now I'm graduating a semester after I had originally been admitted to,  have gotten married and had my own baby and now living in a new city. It's a lot of things that I would not have expected, but I don't think I would have changed any of it because at the end of the day, I know my mom likes to say that I'm hard headed. A better word that Laura from XPD says like you're not hard headed is just that you're resilient. Resilient to keep on moving no matter what comes up.

 I love that.”