The door to the doctor’s office creeks open slowly. A thin Indian woman sits down next to me. She’s a psychologist. Concerned, she drowns me with questions.
“Have you experienced any suicidal thoughts in the past month? Any safety concerns? How are you right now? What are you thinking right now? Do you see yourself in the future? Headaches? Crying? Does your mom think you need help? Do you want help? Do you think you need help?”
Overwhelmed, I only felt numbness. I was speechless. I couldn’t feel the tears pouring from my eyes until she suggested I take a tissue. I couldn’t look at her nor my mom, but their eyes were beaming on me. I couldn’t pull my eyes off the snow-covered tree across the street. I listened intently as my mom answered every question the psychologist asked.
“Do you want help?” I wanted to say “no.” “Do you need help?” I knew I needed help but did i want it?
“Do you see yourself in the future?” I never knew the answer to that question since I thought suicide was my only answer to every problem.
Looking back, I’d been angry, nervous, doubtful, quiet and at that very moment confused. I was fourteen years old and stubborn. I wasn’t going to cry, show emotion or even talk. To this day, though, a snapshot of that same tree appears in my head and distracts me from negative thoughts about my future.
Therapy sessions were a huge struggle for me. They eventually were easier, and I learned a lot about communicating, managing stress, anxiety and thinking positive. My psychologist challenged me to speak out my thoughts and find a hobby. I became passionate about photography.
Photography has helped me express my mental illness as an art form. I focus on facial expressions to symbolize my experience, pain and suffering, or to capture smiles that expose great energy. Holding a camera and looking through a lens takes me to a happier world.
At school, teachers call me “The Camera Girl.” I volunteered to take pictures at prom, homecoming and sporting events. I worked, I saved and I purchased my first camera, then started earning money from my hobby, a great achievement at 16. More important, photography was the passion I needed. It gave me hope.
Therapy and photography have changed my life. Learning to communicate and express myself, manage stress and anxiety, and to think positive helped me improve my grades and gain new friends. As I steer myself toward college, I now know to use my time, knowledge and other resources wisely. I focus on hard work and positive outcomes. I understand the importance of my future and education. I’m ready to succeed.