Taylor Boteilho is a 21-year old student at Central Washington University. She is a student programmer at the Center for Diversity and Social Justice. She grew up in a small town called Oliver in Washington State. The life of Taylor includes how she battles with discovering her truth and dealing with mental disabilities on a day to day basis. However, it wasn’t always like this. Growing up was rough, she had to constantly deal with different forms of abuse; mental and physical. Today, Taylor is embracing mental disability. She has found triumph in the struggle. When you see her, you wouldn’t believe her story because Taylor shines so bright with a warm smile and contagious joy.
Growing up, who was apart of the household?
Mother, Father, Little sister, Uncle Andy, Aunts and other Uncles
What was the best/worst part about growing up?
Friendships; I got lucky because I got to meet all different types of people from all different types of backgrounds, especially those with mental and physical disabilities. Although I was homeschooled, I was still able to meet and connect with people from all walks of life. The worst part about growing up was when I was really little, I witnessed a lot of physical abuse abuse at my biological father and step mothers house and just carrying that heaviness and darkness around as a kid was weary because kids shouldn’t see things the way I did.
Who was the most influential person to you as a child/today?
I have got to say my mom. She provided a space to grow and heal. She is my biggest supporter. As a homeschooler, she was teacher, which was another way to connect.
How early did you realize the difference between right and wrong? Example?
I was really little. I seen my little brother get hit for no reason. I grew angry and seen that that was wrong and realized that there are bad people.
When did you realize that you may have a mental disability?
When I had a beautiful bright and blessed childhood but in the middle of it, I just wasn’t able to connect. I saw things different, things affected me differently and I would have flashbacks to abuse. I was diagnosed really early.
Where you diagnosed? If so, with what?
I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, clinical anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder.
What does mental disability mean to you?
Neurodivergent, its something that our brains do. However, the function is on the spectrum, it’s a grey area, it’s dynamic and it comes and goes. My personal perspective is that anxiety and ptsd is very trigger based while depression can be having the best week of your life but your still depressed. It’s something that everyone has to respond to in your own way.
What is life like dealing with it?
It’s a constant push and pull. It’s like having an additional layer of not knowing when you;ll wake up and feel suicidal or that you’ll have a great day. I don’t know if I’ll have a flash back. It takes a lot of energy having to devote energy to something I didn’t ask for. I present myself away to people in a way to people who don’t know I have a mental disability. However, it’s better to be out about it with friends because there understanding to situations I’d rather not be in because of my anxiety, like “Hey, Tay, its ok, we don’t have to go to the mall.”
What treatment options were available to you, did you take advantage of any of them?
All types of treatments, I did therapy, growing up. I’ve been to a variety of counselors. Medication was offered but I chose to not to take them because the medicine takes away from connecting with experiences and emotions and that’s something that I already struggle with. The past two years, I trained my dog Molly to be of service with my mental disabilities. Fitness is important, because it helps me control my heart rate. I also enjoy painting and singing.