Worth Living Ambassador Beca Wilson

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“Hi, it’s me again, Beca. I have always been the over-protective momma bear and sometimes I forget to protect myself as much as I do others. I am surrounded by wonderful people every day who make it easy for me to feel loved. I aspire to help, even just one person. I want to help them realize that their story deserves to be shared. You matter to somebody”.

To You,

I promise you, it is okay to not be okay. You are allowed to be a work in progress. You are allowed to cry your eyes out on the bathroom floor at work. You are allowed to tell someone that they can no longer be in your life if they only bring you pain. You are allowed to answer with anything other than “I am just tired”, or “I am good”; you are allowed to answer with the truth. You are allowed to let people in. You are allowed to show them the good, the bad and the ugly; if they decide to leave that is their choice and quite frankly, good riddance to them. You are a beautiful work of art. You are someone the world deserves to love and get to know. The bottom line is, you are allowed to not always be the strong one; you are allowed to not be okay.

All of my love,

Me

 

Acceptance is one of the hardest things I have had to learn.

I have accepted my Mental Health conditions. I have accepted what is ahead for me for the next couple of years. However, for some reason, I can’t accept that I am allowed to let it bother me.  I haven’t learned to accept that I don’t have to be the strong one who protects everyone all the time, Sometimes, the people I am always protecting need to step up and take their turn at protecting me.

On Halloween of this year I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type II, and Panic Disorder. To be honest, I didn’t know there were two types of Bipolar.

My Psychiatrist was very helpful and explained everything to me pretty well. He told me that treating Bipolar with Anxiety can be very tricky and that it may take some juggling to get the right medications in place. He always seems very optimistic with me and doesn’t ever doubt that I will get through this.

The following days were spent withdrawing from one of my major pills that was for my anxiety the most. It was the main medication that stabilized me.  I was also increasing my intake of one pill and introducing an entirely new one into the rotation!  I had been warned that weaning off would show some symptoms of withdrawal but it would be even worse if I just stopped cold-turkey. To say the first week was rough was an understatement.

I experienced some nausea, some disorientation and major fatigue. I had zero appetite and my head pounded for multiple days on end. I was not a happy Beca and it was just the beginning of my tailspin down.

The second week I mourned. I don’t know for sure what I was mourning. All I ever wanted were answers and some kind of explanation and now I finally got it, and I felt extremely alone. I thought my whole world had caved in.

To give you a very brief background, because I am saving ‘my story’ for another post, I have been fighting for my own mental health and wellbeing for years now. I have been facing this on my own, and now I finally had the right resources and I was getting the answers that I wanted. However, I don’t think I wanted those answers after all.

As I continued my tailspin down, I didn’t realize how much I was falling. I went through each day in the perfect routine. I woke up; I went to work; I came home; I went to bed. I stopped going to the gym. I didn’t want to go out anymore. If I did go out, it was either with Kody and very brief or just a short outing on my own. I limited the number of times I would go out with friends. I was slowly slipping back into my depression and starting to push everyone around me away.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked if I am “okay”. I was told countless times that I wasn’t acting like “Beca”, what does a Beca act like anyways? I would hear these questions  and comments but they weren’t quite registering with me. They weren’t quite making it to my brain as a flag that something was, in fact, not right.

I carried on like this for a few more weeks. I was slowly starting to crash. I would wake up each morning and just cry. I didn’t want to wake up anymore. I was so tired. There was nothing going on in my life that was causing me any stress; I was just so tired of being tired. I was tired of living. I no longer found pleasure in anything. There was friction between Kody and me because he was trying to help and understand.  I was still in denial that anything was wrong. I felt overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time.

So, that brings us to this week. I am at work and I am miserable, again, not from the work or being there, but because I am just so tired. My anxiety has risen to levels that it was at around the time I tried to end my life. My mind is not slowing down, I am quite certain that if it had not been for my one pill, I would have been up all night with racing thoughts. My heart felt like it was pounding in every area of my body at once. I was nauseous from all the adrenaline I was getting from one of my other meds. I had the shakes and I thought I was going crazy. It was just chaos. I thought I was losing control of my body.

On Tuesday, I had a breakdown. I ended up in the bathroom at work sobbing because I thought this was the end. I thought this is what my life was. I began to realize that all my feelings of fear and loneliness were feelings I knew all too well. I didn’t want this to be my life. I didn’t want to live this way.

That afternoon I went and saw my Psychiatrist and we talked about how I was feeling and he decided it was best for me to go back onto my anxiety pill, at a lower dose, since it had helped me so much previously. I was relieved, I mean, I hate this med and the side effects it has given me but it worked before. It helped me a lot. All I wanted was to feel better, to feel even just a fraction of how I felt this time last month. I wasn’t looking for a miracle cure. I wasn’t looking for a quick-fix, I just wanted to feel ‘normal’ again.

That day, I was taken off work for the rest of the week. I needed some time to just be. Ever since my suicide attempt over five months ago now, I have just been going headstrong. I have been pushing through. I took some summer holidays but they were just as busy as working. I was reaching the end of my rope and I was too afraid to admit it.

I was too afraid to say, “Hey, I am not okay”.  I was too afraid to admit that the strong girl that so many people had said was an inspiration was actually falling apart. I was scared to be seen as weak. When in all honesty, what is braver than admitting you can’t do it on your own anymore.

We as humans have a tendency to put other people’s needs and wants before our own. We tend to forget that we should be our own #1, that our mental health and wellness is the most important thing. We NEED to take care of ourselves. It isn’t a recommendation, it is a requirement.

The fact that it took me almost a month, and my having a breakdown, to realize that I am not okay, it honestly leaves me feeling sad. I thought I knew myself better.  I thought I was beginning to understand my needs. Unfortunately, I haven’t. Over the last few days, I have been using this time to really just listen to my body.

I’ve been spending my days reading lots. Books about love, books of poetry, self-help books, and books for pleasure. I have been watching shows that interest me and shows that are just stupid. I have been in bed until my body says it is time to get up and I have been cuddling my babies like crazy. I have been doing a lot of self-care and just loving myself.
If I was a person who gave advice, which I am not, I would tell you to learn to really listen to your body. Know what your limits are and embrace them. There is no shame in needing help, in needing to take a break. There is no shame in falling down; it’s the getting back up part that really matters.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

You can follow my personal blog at Diary of a 20 Something Normal Girl


Worth Living Ambassador Ann Ottaway

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“Ann is a 30 year old former legal assistant, animal lover, and a believer in new beginnings. Ann shares her recovery journey with the hope that her story allows others to realize they are not alone”.

It’s no secret that nutrition plays a key role in our health. I find that I often have to remind myself that this is also the case for my mental health.

When I am experiencing a depressive episode I feel lethargic, fatigued and lack the energy and enthusiasm to prepare meals for myself.  The times when I feel like I cannot manage my emotions, I am left with an overwhelming feeling that I cannot manage many things, self- care included. I sometimes find myself sick to my stomach when I am dealing with anxiety or lacking an appetite during my struggles with depression. This leads me to eat food that is fast, easy, convenient and ultimately unhealthy. If I am able to consume any food at all, it is generally food that is comforting rather than nutritious.

When my depression reached a point where I had to be hospitalized for my own safety,  I learned the importance of nutrition for the sake of my mental health.  It didn’t matter that I had no drive or energy to prepare a meal, food was provided for me.  It was a huge weight off my shoulders! It seems small but consider for a moment the feeling you have when a friend or family member surprises you with a meal that they have prepared for you. It was one less thing I had to deal with and while I lacked an appetite initially,  even just having a few bites of a meal made a difference. A few bites turned into a few more and before I knew it I was eating three full meals a day and snacks. My body finally had nutritional energy to allow me to work on my emotions.

The hospital had a cooking class once a week in which patients could take part and work together to prepare things like baked goods. Cooking was communal again! Participants would work together to prepare a treat and bring it back to share with everyone.  I had forgotten about how important proper meals and nutrition were but I was suddenly reminded that there was a social aspect as well. Meal times at the hospital were an opportunity for me to bond with other patients. We would all gather together to eat, chat and get to know one another outside of our group therapy sessions.

Going home from the hospital meant that meals were not going to be prepared for me but I still had the experience of understanding the impact proper nutrition on my well- being. I planned meals at home and made arrangements with friends to get together for meals. I also prepared freezer ready meals on days when I had energy so that when I have depressive episodes,  I still have convenient and nutritious meals that I can warm up.

It seems simple, but taking a step back from the complications of life and spending some time to do something good for myself each day has a big impact. Treating my mental and physical health as two separate entities is something that I have to remind myself not to do. The mind and body work together and I feel a great sense of pride when I do something to take care of myself, even something as small as having a nutritious meal.


Worth Living Ambassador Alexa Cress

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“My name is Alexa Cress. I am 23 and am in love with living life to the fullest. I finally found balance within my own life after battling negative thoughts for years and thrive on sharing my story in the hope it motivates others to keep pushing on their journey”.

 

We all have things that we want to hide from those around us, whether it be something physically or mentally important to us. I also hid something from my loved ones for years and sadly I was more successful than maybe I should have been.

I grew up in an active family where sports were a daily occurrence and playing with my friends never involved sitting in front of a TV but rather spending the summer swimming or the winters skating. As the years progressed, my love for moving my body turned into participating in physical sports which kept me active every season of the year. Like most things in life, those years came to an end and as most graduates were focusing on what university they were going to attend, I was struggling with how I was going to stay active while in a new place.

That was when my whole mentality around exercise changed. It was no longer fun; it began to control me.

I played University volleyball for a semester but as my mentality weakened, I lost my love for the sport and I became a quitter for the first time in my life. I was so hard on myself, instilling that I was useless and wasn’t good enough. I longed for control. I turned to my consumption of food and my activity levels because those were two things at which I was finally good I realized.

Of course I lost weight, and in the beginning the compliments started coming and people were finally paying attention to me. My body ached for rest but my mind was too strong to let go of this new persona I had created for myself. Like most good things in life, I took it too far and my life became consumed by my addiction to the control I had on my daily life.

In my mind, what I was doing felt 100% normal and healthy, but little did I realize I had commenced a long path of pain followed by depression, anxiety and loneliness.

This behaviour affected so many other things in my life not only my physical appearance. I became a perfectionist; even more of one than I had been before if that’s possible to imagine. I started living each and every day by a routine, a very similar day to day plan which told me what I would eat, when I would eat, and what I would restrict myself from doing.In 2012, my parents finally stepped in and we had the “talk” that should have probably  should have happened long before that. They knew something was wrong and that the healthy lifestyle I was striving for wasn’t in fact healthy at all.

I saw doctors and nutritionists to please my parents but nothing ever came from it. I was told over and over that my eating habits were “healthy” and the term eating disorder wasn’t mentioned once. I’ll be honest, I was good at hiding my behaviours and masking them to make it seem like I was living a completely healthy and happy life. Deep inside I was begging for help but was too stubborn and naive to admit that I had become so weak.

Two years passed and it seemed that every time I would make progress, the next week I would revert back to my negative habits. I needed a change, and I needed it fast.

A week after my college graduation I made the rash decision to flee abroad to Paris for a year. I bought a one way ticket, found a host family and within 4 months I was on my way to creating a new beginning for myself and that’s exactly what I did. I no longer had my monotonous meals and a free gym where  I could waste my days.

This was it, this was the change I needed. I stayed in Paris for a year, and came back physically 20 pounds heavier and mentally better but not healed. Over the course of the next year, I spent a lot of time working on myself, and being patient with the challenges I still had to overcome. I began opening up to my family and asking for the help I needed all along and help is exactly what I got.

I am proud to say that today I stand a good 40 pounds heavier than I did at my sickest and mentally feel on top of the world. Even though the past 6 years haven’t been the best and there were multiple times when I felt like giving up, I wouldn’t change anything about my journey. It’s made me who I am today and as I have inked on my shoulder I truly believe that “without struggle there is no progress”


Worth Living Ambassador Beca Wilson

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“My name is Beca Wilson. I have a loving and supportive boyfriend, who is my lighthouse; always guiding me back home. I have three fur-babies, who bring me so much joy and are the best cuddlers. I have Bipolar Disorder type II, but I hate labels. I am a lover of all things light and am hoping to inspire some open conversation. No one should ever feel alone in a world with 7 billion people.”

 

Dear 21 year old Beca,
First off, please remember that you are still young and you still have so much to see in this world. You are by no means “stuck” and patience is something you would do well to learn. Second, and probably more important, don’t push Kody away. He is going to wipe a lot of your tears. He is going to be your best friend and at times, your only one. He is going to try his damnedest to make you happy, cut him some slack sometimes He is trying. He is going to make a lot of mistakes, but he is human and so are you. Please, please, remember that he loves you so much.
Sincerely,
25 year old Beca

 
When I first met my boyfriend 4 years ago, mental health was the last thing on my mind. I was falling in love for what seemed like the first time. He was new. He was funny. I wanted to get lost in his eyes. We did, in fact, quickly fall in love.  I could tell you the moment I knew I was hopelessly smitten, but that is a story for another time.

 
We began to build a beautiful life together. We adopted our second dog, Jet. We bought our house. We got our third baby, Rush. We went on countless adventures, some just down the street and others countries away. We were the best of friends and life was going pretty well. Of course, there were hiccups and some heartbreak, but we loved each other and wanted nothing more than to share our lives together.

 

In January of this year, I began to question my mental health once again. I had always known that I was “different”, I was the feeler.  Actually, I had a family member once tell me they couldn’t be bothered to spend any more time with me because I am “too emotional” and I cry too much. It was like I walked around either feeling way too much or not nearly enough.

 

Kody and I were in Mexico for a 2 week holiday last January and I had a panic attack. That was the day that I finally spoke the words to Kody that I think something is “wrong with me” and that I think I need to see my doctor because I was starting to lose control.  Let me tell you, that first visit to my family doctor did not go well. There was a lot of shaming and I left his office crying. There is more to that story, maybe for another time.

 

The second visit didn’t go any better. He was not helpful. He did not suggest any direction really, good or bad. I was just left with “Well, you are obviously depressed” and forced to sort out the rest for myself. I felt helpless; I felt hopeless; I felt alone.

 

Kody tried his hardest to be there for me. He was always supporting me and encouraged me to seek another “opinion”. Essentially, find someone who will help me. I, on the other hand, was not doing well. I was lashing out at Kody because how could he possibly understand? I really began to withdraw from everyone. I no longer wanted to spend time outside of my house unless necessary. I really only left the house for work or grocery shopping. I stopped showering, which was not my best moments. All of the withdrawing did not help my self-esteem and I honestly began to resent Kody.  As my world seemed to be shrinking away (which was my own doing), he was still leading a happy and healthy life. I was mad! How was this fair?

 

A little tidbit before we go much further:  life isn’t fair. Life owes us nothing. We have to take each struggle and battle we are given in stride and in the end, it won’t matter that it wasn’t fair. All that will matter is that we survived. Back to my story, so my life was in a tailspin. I was losing grip on my life. I was stinky.  My boyfriend was trying. He would draw me baths that I would never get into. He would ask me what he could do and I would yell at him that there was nothing he could possibly do! He would encourage me to go to the gym to help blow off some steam and I would cry because I thought he was calling me fat and attacking me. Really, the guy couldn’t do anything right in my books and I was driving a giant wedge between us.

 

Beginning of May, I finally reached out and found a new doctor. Now, let me tell you before we go too much further, I am thankful for her almost daily. She is one of the most compassionate and caring women I have ever met.  She was very open with me about how I can go about managing my depression and anxiety. She actually listened and I felt heard. I was not crazy!!!  I had finally found someone who was putting their faith in me and backing me.

 
Things were starting to look up, I began to shower again (not everyday… but progress is progress!). I started to see a Mental Health Counsellor who I have learned so much from and I look forward to our bi-weekly talks. He is a life jacket on the stormy days. In the meantime, as I thought I was making tremendous leaps and bounds, tragedy struck my  relationship with Kody. I am not going to go into details, because quite frankly, the details mean very little in the big picture.  Our relationship hit some rocks and our ship was taking on water quickly. It was in those moments that I decided I wanted to die. I no longer wanted to be on a world where I didn’t have Kody.

 

I am not going to go into my suicide attempts right now. I am going to save that for another post. I will tell you though, I am still coping. I am still learning to be “okay” with it. It is now forever apart of my story and I feel no shame about it. It has shaped me into who I am now and I honestly would never change that for anything. It is still sometimes something that pops up in my mind and I get scared, but luckily I have a fantastic support system.

 

It took me a few months to realize how my suicide attempts affected Kody. In those months, it was all about me: Does Beca feel safe? Does Beca want to die today? Does Beca have an appointment today? Is Beca sleeping too much? Are Beca’s medications working? Does Beca need to slow down? I think I got sucked into the idea that only I was affected  by this. I was the one who wanted to die, no one else was hurt. It took me a few months to realize that Kody blamed himself.

 

When Kody and I had finally reached our limit one night and were yelling and screaming at each other, it came out. There was a moment of silence where it sank in for both of us what he just said. I cried. I cried for a long time because I realized how selfish I had been in our relationship. I was not being a very good girlfriend. We are supposed to be a team, but instead, I was relying on him for love and support but I wasn’t giving it in return. That day was the day our relationship shifted once again. It was the day that we both realized how much of a team we are. We both need each other, for different things, but nonetheless, we need each other.

 

I wish I could say our relationship is perfect and that we communicate well all the time and that we never fight.  The truth though is that sometimes we don’t communicate at all. Sometimes we just can’t seem to get the correct words out  for whatever reason.  We take a timeout at those moments and go our separate ways to re-group to then come back and try again. It takes a few timeouts at times but we never give up on each other. Our relationship is not always pretty and angels do not sing our names but we are still as much in love with each other as we were when we first met. I get lost sometimes, but I always find my way back to shore thanks to my lighthouse.

 

“Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.” – Unknown

 

You can follow my personal blog at www.diaryofa20somethingnormalgirl.wordpress.com

 

 


Worth Living Ambassador Lisa Anderson from Texas

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“My name is Lisa. Formerly a successful marketing manager for Fortune 50 corporations, I am now passionately dedicated to advocating for mental health awareness, chronic pain education, and suicide prevention.”

 

I had been successful at almost everything in life except for coping with negative emotions. I spent years shrugging off sorrow and burying despair. They would be dealt with later. I ignored the physical warnings that signaled an inevitable world-class meltdown as I artfully dodged processing any trauma that I encountered.

 

After a two-year period of tragedy, my “safe” emotional bubble burst and I landed squarely on my ass.

 

The downward spiral began when the love of my life, Richard, was diagnosed with throat cancer. I watched my strong, vibrant man dwindle to a shadow of himself through chemo and daily radiation. When he was no longer able to eat, I fed him through a tube inserted in his stomach. I stayed awake at night to watch for signs that he was still breathing. Those were dark days.

 

Thankfully, he overcame the cancer and life began to return to normal. We were engaged to marry on a bright, chilly Christmas morning and our home was once again filled with hope for the future. Until the call came on that fateful spring afternoon.

 

Richard’s son, at the age of 23, had died by suicide. Harry was bright, devilishly handsome, and oozing with charm. He could sell ice to an Alaskan. To meet Harry, you could immediately see the potential for a bounty of great things in his future. The problem was, he could not. Under all of the joking and young male bluster, Harry hid a terrible secret. He was in pain. The confidence that he portrayed was a symptom of that “selling ice” thing. We never imagined the depths of Harry’s depression. We never imagined a world without him.

 

Life marched on and we wed in the fall. Shortly afterwards, the pain began. As a new bride, I chalked it up to the busy months before the wedding and the “normal stress” that was an ever-present part of my life in the corporate arena. Surely nothing that happy hour and a nice massage couldn’t remedy. Well, that wasn’t to be the case. My body and my mind betrayed me.

 

After months of being unable to work due to the chronic pain, I was out of a job. The career that had defined me for so many years was gone, along with my healthy salary. My perception of myself was trashed. I had always self-identified with the “professional me.” My sense of guilt increased as our bank account decreased.

 

By that summer, I felt that there was nothing to look forward to but endless, debilitating pain. The life that I had known – the PERSON that I had been – was gone. The downward spiral continued as I started losing my words and became unable to think in a straight line. When I became anxious, I’d stutter, so I stopped talking unless I had to. I felt stupid, worthless and a huge burden on my husband.

 

There were so many doctors, it was hard to keep track of where I needed to be on any given day. I was a human pin cushion after having blood drawn so frequently, yet no one could identify exactly what was wrong with me for quite some time. Remaining undiagnosed for so long left me frustrated and afraid. New symptoms rained down and I never knew what was going to fall off next. My roller-coaster ride with various meds had left me ruined. For months I ricocheted between lying incoherently in bed for days, and sleepless nights where I struggled to take a breath. Every empty day ran into the next.

 

On August 21, I was ready to die. I had a drawer full of pills within reach. I didn’t even need to get out of bed to end all of the pain and loss. As fate would have it, I also had the suicide prevention number within reach as well. In that one critical moment I remembered what I had learned from losing Harry.

 

There are always ripples. The split second action of one person will reverberate through others for the rest of their lives. The end of one person’s pain is the beginning of sorrow for so many. It is like passing the baton of despair, handing off the pain to those left behind. How well will they run the race? How will they face each day?

 

I chose life. For my husband, for my mother, for my daughter, for my friends. I summoned the courage to try – just one more day.

 

My experience at the mental health facility, which I lovingly call “my week at Band Camp,” was the best thing that ever could have happened to me. I found that I was ready to heal, and learned valuable coping skills that would carry me through to the next phase of my healing journey.

 

When I came home I immediately began working with a therapist. Over time, a whole beautiful world of opportunity opened up to me. By incorporating guided imagery, meditation, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and other mindfulness-based coping skills into my toolbox, I began to relish every session. Between visits I would pour all of my thoughts and feelings into my journal, which helped to purge the pain and shine a light on my healing path. I was learning to love myself and to value the miracle of life that I had almost thrown away. I was able to take back my personal power and change my relationship with pain.

 

I was hungry to understand more about my physical and emotional pain and how the two were intrinsically intertwined. The more I learned about the Mind/Body/Spirit connection and the role that the brain plays in processing pain, the more I could see my way to WHOLE HEALTH.

 

Am I pain-free today? Nope. I still have some bad days, but I have far more GREAT DAYS. I continue to use the tools that I’ve learned and I gain new strength and insights each day. My quest for knowledge of healing through modern medicine and ancient practices continues and my life has become a more amazing journey than I ever could have imagined.

 

That place in my soul that used to hide my pain is now overflowing with joy and gratitude. Now it’s my turn to give back. Moving forward, my focus is on advocacy. I’m currently creating a resource to “speak my truth” about mental health and suicide and to share my insights, my sources of inspiration, and the tools and resources that made the difference between life and death.  My story of Power Not Pain. Perhaps someone who has lost their way will find it as a way-sign. And, at that critical moment they will remember my story and choose life.

 

Please visit my facebook page – www.facebook.com/powernotpain

 

 


Worth Living Ambassador Delicia Raveenthrarajan

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“Delicia is a performing arts student who also takes on the world with her passion in spoken word, motivational speaking, song writing, the arts, musical theatre, and changing the world with strength and kindness. She has become who she is by volunteering, speaking and life changing travels. Delicia simply  states her journey so far: Canada Born. Kenya Bound. Arizona Built. Amazon Braving. Strength Embracing.”

 
Dear High School Teacher:

 
I admire your knowledge and all that you have to offer your students. But I would like to bring something to your attention. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and can be overwhelmed with panic attacks and episodes of severe anxiety as a result. I would like you to know something else. At the end of last year, I completed the school year with a 95% average as well as attending the school as a performing arts honours student. I am a musician, speaker and performer. I grew up being honest and raw on stage. I travel the world and go on service trips as often as possible for me. I have a lead in this year’s musical. Earlier this year I was awarded with a provincial and federal award from the governor general. I have a wonderful family, beautiful, loving friends and a roof over my head. I have major depressive disorder.  I suffer from a mental illness. It may not make sense to you, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me. But it is real, it exists and denying it will only make it worse and I would like you to know a few things.

 
Remember when I came and asked you for an extension on my lab report? Remember when you passed me off as irresponsible or thought that my reasoning was just an excuse for “being a teenager?” Well, I had to go to the doctor and the hospital for appointments to address the fog that blurred my mind of any sense of hope for the future and numbed me from any remote sense of emotion. Upon coming home, I went to sleep. For the next three days, I was able to rally up a total of 3 hours of sleep due to my illnesses and this was the first time that my exhaustion allowed me to close my eyes for longer than the slim hour a night that left me hanging on by a thread. I had no energy and physically could not get out of bed. That night, my friends were going to dinner and I stayed home because I was too tired and overwhelmed to take the blanket off of me or turn on the lights. I promise you that I would much rather write a lab report than spend my days driving back and forth from hospital appointments and the darkness of my room.

 

Remember when you got mad at me when I told you that I had to go home. You told me that I was missing class too often and needed to learn to prioritize. I’m on antidepressants. I forgot my meds in the morning and needed to take them before the serotonin deficiency started affecting my mind, body and immune system. It’s not a pleasant feeling. Trust me. I would much rather be copying notes and doing practice math questions. You may think that my medications are happy pills, a short cut, useless, weak or unnecessary, I’ve heard it all. But I can assure you that those statements are anything but the truth.

 
Similar to a diabetic, there is no immediate cure for my mental illness like a “happy pill.” But just like a diabetic takes insulin, I take antidepressants to help me tolerate and live life to the best of my abilities despite the circumstances. It’s not a crutch. It’s not taking the easy way out. It is brave and the farthest thing from weak.

 
Remember when you called me out which led to a panic attack? Remember when you let another student take the test another day because of a fever but refused to give me an extension because you could not physically see what was wrong? Remember when you thought I was faking it because I perform so well in and out of school? Remember when you questioned my need for extra time or a private space to work because I received high marks? Remember how you were confused because I smile all the time?

 
I am not writing this letter to tell you that you are a bad teacher because you are a great teacher.  You are also a human being. There are just some things that I wanted you to know so you are aware of my story behind the endless singing and high grades. I am writing this because I want to help you understand that my illness is a chemical flaw and not a character flaw. I am writing this to help you understand that there is so much more to me.  And most importantly, I am writing this to help you understand that I am a human before I am a student. Therefore, I will put my wellbeing first at all costs.

 

Sincerely,
Your Student with a Story.