A couple weeks ago, NAMI Cook County North Suburban, a local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, held a gala. Children’s Mental Health−Voices Found: Tales of Discovery and Recovery featured AJ Lee Mendez as the keynote speaker. I wrote about the night for Global Traveler at "Children's Mental Health.'
AJ is a former wrestler. More importantly, she is a survivor. Raised in a family who struggled with money issues, mental health problems and more, AJ battled her own issues until she was properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 20.
She went on to have a relatively short, nut very successful career in wrestling. She won the WWE women's title three times in 8+ years in the WWE. She married fellow wrestler CM Punk and they both have retired.
Always a role model for young women during her career, AJ felt the need to continue that path in retirement. She wrote Crazy Is My Super Power, about her life, especially her battles with mental issues. It is a fascinating and important book. It could not have been easy writing parts of the book. Having to relive certain rough patches had to be painful. It just shows how far AJ has come and how important it is to her to tell her story and help others.
This isn't a book glorifying her wrestling career. While there is plenty of wrestling content, this book is about mental health.
I talked to AJ at the gala about my appreciation for the book. I wish I had it when I was much younger, but at least youngsters today can read it. She seemed genuinely touched, as we talked for several minutes.
I ended our chat by commenting that I wore my black Chuck's because of her, but was surprised to see her without her trademark shoes. She laughed and expressed her desire to wear them instead of the more elegant shoes of the night, but she "dressed up" for the night. It was a fun moment to end the interaction.
She also spent extra time with a few others, mostly young girls. She seemed to really embrace the connections. Several of the young women (and their families) walked away in tears over the powerful interaction.
I highly recommend AJ's book. You can follow AJ on twitter to get all of her updates and info on the book.
AJ Lee and me in Wilmette, IL-May 2019.