By Alexandra Blackwood
Illustration by Nancy Cerra
The following article is dedicated primarily to those suffering the affliction of mental illness, and to inform individuals unaware of how these illnesses affect others. It is depicted through the voice of a 15-year-old teenager, who has silently surveyed the corruption that dwells within each individual. A personal victim and witness of such travesty, this young adolescent seeks only to ease the burden of our own torment. She would also very much wish to recognize those who aided her in writing this essay, as well as those that provided for her a better understanding of just how monstrous we can allow ourselves to become. We’ve given her a pseudonym to protect her privacy.
Echoed whispers fazed my clouded mind, as the images twisted before a hollowed soul. Darkness cascaded through my withering figure, once more rupturing the faded glimmers of hope. Feverish gasps lurched from within me, as I heaved to the earth. Desperately clutching an unfathomable light. Shaky hands withered upon my skull, as I screamed of endless terror. The caverns hollowed in surreal darkness. No light. No way out. Pain etched upon my sunken features, as I surveyed the land of bewitching blackness. Shadows fled across blackened ruins, as the strange silence surrounded me. Beckoning me closer within its inflicting doom. And so I was falling. Drowning amidst the inner madness I had become.
High school is a corrupt and twisted reality for many individuals. It provokes the darkest of natures within us, as it requires youths to decipher the very essence of existence. They have come upon this dwelling to determine they should achieve in life. However, they must also face a world they’ve never known, to come to terms with a discrete land of unfamiliarity.
A phrase commonly spoken here is, “We love you!” These words are often said after the tragic suicide of a student. Officials within the school board are then required to create some form of prevention following these tragic circumstances. However, many are oblivious to the idea in that love can and must be expressed in a number of forms, and must not be limited to one. Love is an emotion vital to the natural health of an individual.
Just like anyone, students desire a strong need of purpose, which is particularly vivid during their teenage years. They require much more than vocalization. They require companionship, compassion, love and purpose, to genuinely experience these necessities. It is these elements in which teenagers so commonly lack.
Suicide is a leading cause of death in America, very much prominent among adolescents. This, in itself, is a travesty of injustice which should not be taken lightly. Pressure put upon teenagers of this era is scientifically proven to be a leading cause of high suicide rates. Many do not consider the causes of teenage depression or what exactly leads an adolescent to periods of complete desperation. This is a desperation so severe that it stirs the youth to feel so helpless, so utterly isolated in that they feel only solution is to end it all.
Many, too, do not realize that simple acts of compassion to each individual may drastically alter the perspective of another. In the simplest of terms, kindness is a virtue many take for granted. A small acknowledgment, such as a greeting or compliment, may help a teenager struggling with the effects of depression. Just one friend. That is all many desire.
Small and subtle acts of affection are incredibly significant to restore the health of a depressed individual. Physical contact, also, is drastically important. Hugs. Kisses. Affirmation of love. Humanity requires physical contact, and lack of physical contact commonly triggers bouts of depression. Words. Actions. Many expressions of love exist, and should be continuously displayed for every human being, although prominently depressed individuals.
Depression is a condition. This is a concept many adults particularly find difficult to grasp. It often leads to physical symptoms, including lack of motivation, fatigue, irritability, withdrawal from social interaction, etc. Parents of adolescents in particular must be perceptive and continuously aware of their child’s behavior. They must attempt to empathize with his or her needs and demonstrate both compassion and affection every day. This is a necessity for the well-being of an individual.
Treatment for the condition of depression varies for each individual, depending primarily on what appears effective. Of course, continuous affirmations of affection are a must, as well as support and guidance through difficult times. One must come to an awareness of how to interpret signs of depression. Individuals can vary on how they express depression. Some are prone to display obvious signs of depression, whilst others are very subtle and introverted.
Communication of depression triggers is also incredibly necessary, as well as good communication in general. This is necessary both in the family environment and any kind of social interaction. School, work, etc. One with depression may often benefit from the aide of a trained professional and perhaps a medical diagnosis and treatment. However, many have found the most benefits for those with depression are the simplest ones: purpose, social interaction, friends, groups that continuously express gratitude to each other. Teens in particular must feel connected. Lack of connection often contributes to depression.
As difficult as it may seem, each individual student needs to feel nurtured and genuinely cared for. This is often difficult in a heavily dense population, such as a high school. However, it is not an impossible task. Depression is not a condition that is impossible to treat. With the correct amount of compassion, empathy, and support, one may touch the lives of another through the simplest of actions. Simple, yet effective. Actions of meaningful love.
Depression is often characterized as a negative stigma. Not as a medical condition, but rather as a personal conviction. But, at its basic nature, depression is a disease. A monster. It takes the strongest of individuals, and shatters them until they are left hollow. These individuals are victims under the savage compulsion of themselves. This is depression.
And so, a young girl shall sit. Day after day, week after week, month after month. She shall grin with hope at others surrounding her, she shall open her heart to those in need. And yet, day after day, month after month, she shall sit. Alone. Forgotten. Forsaken. A once kind and wonderful soul, left to wither among the darkened ruins of her own reality. For so she realized, true monsters have no fangs or claws. They possess no hidden venom or physical means of torture. No. True monsters are those that manifest themselves within. Those that tear you apart, from the inside out. For monsters don’t exist. Only humanity does. And oftentimes, that, in itself, is the worst kind of monster.
If you, or someone you know is depressed and/or suicidal and would like to get help, don’t hesitate to call the North Idaho After Hours Crisis Line at 208-946-5595, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
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