Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

Psychology has always played a vital role in my life. It seems like everywhere I look, I am learning more and more about mental illness and its prevalence in today’s society. My first encounter with mental illness stems back to one of my earliest memories; one of my mother. I was a young girl, maybe six or seven years old. I walked into her room to find her crying on the floor, and holding her head in her hands. I asked her what was wrong, because after all, what could be wrong in our perfect microcosm of a world I had created? What she told me didn’t resonate with me until years later; she told me she felt incredible loneliness that she couldn’t explain.
Childhood memories are typically fuzzy, but this memory has always been particularly clear to me, especially the melancholy feeling that loomed over the room as she laid there whimpering. As I grew up I took a special interest in learning to understand her. I started observing my mother, and I noticed how inexplicably hostile she would get when my sister or I spoke out of turn, or crossed her in front of my father. She showed signs of fearing being alone, and in turn, inadvertently tried to control everyone in her life as much as she could. It’s very odd to think that as a child you just accept your home life as normal and assume everyone’s family must behave in the same way your family does. That is, of course, until you get to the age where you stay at a friend’s overnight, and truly experience how different families can be. Nobody else’s mother would have a breakdown at the sight of spilled milk, or the sound of a child laughing too loudly. None of my friends had to tip-toe around their homes. It was no surprise to me when I found out years later my mother was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. It was very hard growing up in this environment and because of this I have chosen to pursue my graduate degree in counseling.

Haley from Florida
university of central florida