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  • I'm sure all of us can remember

  • a time when we were sad, upset, or discouraged:

  • a pet died, you got a bad grade,

  • you had a fight with your best friend, and you were sad,

  • and that's natural.

  • But eventually, a day, a week, a month passes,

  • and we feel better,

  • and even though the pain may not be completely forgotten,

  • even though those brief periods of unhappiness

  • should still be taken seriously,

  • it passes, we feel better.

  • But when you're living with depression, it doesn't just pass.

  • It can strike after a tragedy, or emerge out of the blue.

  • It can come from stress and pressure from school, friends, and family,

  • bullying and emotional abuse,

  • and the media that damages our perception of self-image and self-worth.

  • I grew up as a shy, quiet, and introverted kid.

  • I had friends,

  • but in third grade, my sister, who I was very close to,

  • left to live with another family, and after she left, I became lonely.

  • My depression started taking a toll on me in eighth grade.

  • I rarely talked in school,

  • and although my grades were good, I had no motivation.

  • I felt very lost, and once I was in that rut,

  • it felt impossible to try and get out.

  • I'd heard about cutting,

  • how people hurt themselves to try and cope with their depression.

  • So I tried it, and it became a habit, a go-to when I felt numb, for three years.

  • The rest of eighth grade was hard.

  • I was irritable,

  • angry at the whole universe and angry at myself most of all.

  • The voices in my head were awful, self-loathing, and hateful.

  • I cried almost every day, at the littlest of things, and felt nothing.

  • I would have happily stopped existing.

  • When I went into freshman year, my grades started to go down.

  • I didn't have the motivation or energy to try harder.

  • That year, I was sent to a "therapist." She really didn't help me at all, though.

  • In fact, she actually made me feel worse.

  • Between freshman and sophomore year, I created a secret Instagram account.

  • I wanted to reach out to other people also struggling with depression.

  • Then, sophomore year started, and my depression got worse,

  • but I was chosen to be a part of the school's Natural Helpers Program that year.

  • Natural Helpers.

  • It had to be a mistake.

  • All the other natural helpers were outgoing and confident.

  • Then, it occurred to me: it was my Instagram,

  • because reaching out to others on there

  • was just as noticeable as reaching out to others in school.

  • However, my self-destructive actions continued,

  • forcing me to wear long sleeves and thick bracelets,

  • so no one would see,

  • and I started depriving myself of food.

  • I was sent to a different counseling place which included group therapy.

  • That didn't help either, though,

  • because I had no interest in getting better.

  • I just didn't care.

  • During these years, there were many times when I wanted to die.

  • I didn't necessarily want to kill myself, but I wanted to stop existing.

  • I became unsafe.

  • One night, the weekend before final exams,

  • someone who still remains anonymous to me was afraid for my safety and called 911.

  • I had gone to bed and woke up later that night to police officers in my living room,

  • saying they got the call, saying I had to go to the hospital.

  • I spent the fear-racked night in the emergency room,

  • talking to various doctors and counselors,

  • crying into the scratchy, blue hospital gown.

  • Talking to my parents was the worst part.

  • I felt like I had let them down

  • because I wasn't as strong as they thought I was.

  • School ended, summer began, and I felt just as lost as before.

  • I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • A few weeks into summer, my parents decided

  • to sign me to a summer camp called Tanglewood, up in Lincolnville,

  • to do a three-week leadership program.

  • Yeah, a three-week leadership program.

  • Perfect! (Laughter)

  • Just what I needed. I was furious.

  • The thought of living in the woods with other teenagers who I didn't know was terrifying.

  • Despite my pleading, I had no choice.

  • There were five other kids in the leadership program,

  • two girls and three boys, and one male and female counselor.

  • At first, I tried to isolate myself from them.

  • I was scared to open myself up to them.

  • But after all the challenge courses and group-bonding activities,

  • after eight days of hiking and canoeing in the wilderness,

  • I grew to trust them.

  • They involved me in games and conversations.

  • They offered me a seat next to them.

  • They paid attention to me when I shared an idea.

  • They went out of their way to make me laugh.

  • On the fourth night of our trip, we were all sitting around a fire,

  • and one of our counselors told us we'd be doing P.S.'s, personal stories.

  • Every night, two of us would tell our life stories to the rest of the group.

  • I decided I was definitely going last.

  • Every night,

  • the eight of us would pack ourselves into the boys' tent

  • which was only meant to hold three people.

  • My turn finally came, and I was extremely nervous,

  • but I decided to take the chance and tell them everything.

  • I told them about my depression and anxiety,

  • I told them about the hospital night. I told them everything.

  • We stayed up until three in the morning talking,

  • and when our counselors finally sent us to bed,

  • I followed the other girls to our tent,

  • and I remember just stopping for a moment

  • and looking up at the sky, at all the stars,

  • and I realized that I was smiling uncontrollably

  • for the first time in years.

  • I had hoped, at the very least, they wouldn't stop being my friends

  • after I told them about myself that night.

  • I didn't expect that for the rest of the three weeks at camp,

  • we would become even closer.

  • We became a family.

  • I realized that I was cared for, and that I was loved.

  • It hit me.

  • I could be free from my depression.

  • I didn't have to just live with it for the rest of my life.

  • Since then, things have only gotten better.

  • In the fall of junior year,

  • I learned to stop judging people, and made dozens of new friends.

  • Later in junior year, I went into freshman health classes,

  • and spoke to them about overcoming pressure and judgment in high school.

  • After receiving hand-written letters from the freshmen,

  • I knew that was my words and story I could change the world.

  • I still use my Instagram to post encouraging quotes and personal stories

  • to my almost 3,000 followers, including lots of my classmates.

  • Everyday, I'm reminded of the impact my kind words have.

  • I'm beginning to fall in love with myself, and I'm the happiest I've ever been.

  • I know that there are people in this audience who've experienced

  • or are currently struggling with depression.

  • This is for you: you are not in a bottomless pit.

  • You are not in an endless tunnel without light.

  • You are not a hopeless cause.

  • Help is out there.

  • You are loved, and you are cared for.

  • You have the power and the right to achieve everything you want in life.

  • My life didn't just get better on its own.

  • With help from friends, old and new,

  • I realized that I am worth so much more than what I once thought,

  • and that I have the power and the ability to view the world in a new way,

  • as a place full of endless opportunities and amazing people.

  • I've opened myself up to what the universe has to offer,

  • and I've created my own beautiful life.

  • I have emerged.

  • Thank you.

  • (Cheers) (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • (Cheers) (Applause)

I'm sure all of us can remember

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B1 US depression felt grade freshman program leadership

【TEDx】Conquering depression -- How I became my own hero | Hunter Kent | [email protected]

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    Jeng-Lan Lee posted on 2015/07/21
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