Nothing will ever compare to when I was in high school, freshly diagnosed as a 17-year-old…girl…in high school. It was probably the hardest thing I have had to go through. Who wants to be that girl with a mental illness…crying in class or hyperventilating in the bathroom…working in another room because I couldn’t handle being a mess in front of my peers. Missing so many days of school or going home “sick” caused me to get to know the ladies that worked in the attendance office because they had to phone my mom so many times.
I had some amazing teachers and an amazing guidance counselor but at times I still felt ashamed to talk to certain teachers about what I had going on. Or to excuse myself again to go get some fresh air. But those teachers who did help me and support me I will never be able to thank enough. They were the ones I could go to when I wasn’t having a good day or would let me catch up on late assignments.
Grade 12…the last year of high school! A few weeks before school started my grandfather passed away after his battle with pulmonary fibrosis…my entire world was shattered. Grieving the loss of my grandfather and starting my final year of high school was rough. I learned how quickly a friendship with a girl could changed when there was a boy involved. Rumors were spread and I started dreading the thought of going to school. I found myself going to school and hardly talking to anyone. I had last period spare in first semester and that’s when I made new friends and had a completely different support system at school. They actually invited me to hangout after school and didn’t pay attention to the rumors being spread as they knew they weren’t true. I will never be able to thank those people enough for helping me through a very difficult phase. They might not even realize what they did to help me… we have lost touch, but I will never forget them or what they did for me.
Grade 12 was supposed to be all about having a new crush every other month, going bowling and to the movies with your BFF’s. Stressing out over prom, and getting the dress of your dreams! And you were freaking out wondering if someone was going to ask you to prom. I dealt with peer pressure, homework, uniforms, boys and trying to figure out who I was, on top of my anxiety and depression.
I was the girl who had to take medication every day. I was ashamed because I didn’t know what was going on in my mind and how could I begin to try and explain that to someone else. Looking back now, it amazes me how little my peers knew about mental illnesses. I was just known as the girl who would abruptly cry in class. Or not go to class. Or got extra time to complete assignments. I can finally say that I’m proud of the 17 year old girl, who continued to take the medication even though people thought she was “crazy”.