In honor of National School Counseling Week, the American School Counseling Association has asked school counselors across the nation to share what they want their students to know. In response, I have chosen to write a letter to one student in particular, a student I think about constantly. This is what I would like her to know.
While you sit in my chair you express the complexities of your life. Your friends do not like you anymore. Your mother keeps picking fights. You don’t talk to anyone in the family. Entering the classroom reminds you that you are failing all of your classes. And you don’t think you can make it through the day.
You can’t think. You are so tired, sad, and confused. You feel alone and a persistence sense of sadness. Not long into our conversation you pull your hood over your head and sink back in your chair. The tears start forming.
Depression is taking you over. It has messed with your mind, your body, and your spiritual self. You no longer smile. I see you walk the halls with your head down and a frown pursed to your lips. You no longer engage in social conversation at the lunch table. I see you avoid your friends and classmates. You no longer try to do your school work. I see you put your head down and ask to go to the nurse’s office. Somatic symptoms come in the form of headaches, bellyaches, and even visible illnesses like flus and colds. Your absences have increased significantly. You are unable to concentrate or solve problems. Every day is a cloudy day.
You’re caught up in negative and painful thoughts or feelings and you shut down when these feelings get too intense or strong. You lose track of where you are and what you are doing. You blow like a fuse.
You have thoughts of hurting yourself. I know sometimes you think about ending your life.
But I WANT YOU TO KNOW that your life is not over. Not yet. This chronic and cyclical condition that we call depression does not define you nor does it have to be you. This pain is not permanent. What you are experiencing is treatable. And the pain can go away.
Why don’t you believe me?
I WANT YOU TO KNOW that it gets better. There are some many doors that will open for you in the future. You will feel happy once again. You will feel normal once again. You will experience joy and freedom once again.
Why don’t you believe me?
I WANT YOU TO KNOW that I believe in you. I believe that you have all the potential in the world to get through this, to work through this, to put forth that effort needed to heal.
Please believe me.
I WANT YOU TO KNOW that I love you. That I care about you. That others care for you too!
Please. Take your hood down. Wipe your tears. Look toward me. Thats it. Just start somewhere. Your worth it!
From Your School Counselor,
Note: I understand this content may be emotional and hit home for others. For more information regarding depression and other mental health disorders start with NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness https://www.nami.org. To get help with symptoms of depression or other mental health illnesses talk to your school counselor or your medical doctor today. Both of these professionals can help connect you to the proper resources including a mental health assessment and a treatment plan.