Time for a pause; pause for summer: pause from stress to reflect.
This week Dr Joe Mazza, Nick Provenzano and many other brave educators have shared their stories about dealing with depression, suicide and mental illness. Their actions are bring much needed light to mental health and how it effects all of us. The Semi-Colon Project exists to help anyone in need have hope that their story will continue. As an educator it is important to recognize students in need of help, academic and mental. Everyone has a story and it must be shared. Here is mine:
April 1, 1988 my life changed forever. Until this date my life was “normal”, sure I was a bit of a nerd, didn’t have a ton of friends and lacked social skills, but that is normal for a 17 year old. My parents and I were flying back from a college visit in Wooster, OH to our home in Quincy, IL. I was seated in the co-pilot seat in front with my father, my mother was in the back two rows behind on the pilot’s side. My father was an accomplished pilot having flow since his youth. The weather was beyond his control.
The flight ended with me awakening 3 days later in the hospital. My parents having perished upon impact. My body was ravaged with injuries. I was the lone survivor of the crash. (My brothers skipped the trip to stay home with my grandmother.) Many nights I cried myself to sleep in the hospital. I kept asking myself: Why didn’t I die?I was nothing special, My father was a local doctor; my mother was very involved in our community and church, why did I survive and they have to pass? More than once during my physical recovery from broken bones, I considered taking my own life.
Lucky for me I was in the hospital where my father had worked, many doctors, nurses and community members stopped by to support me. One day the hospital chaplain stopped in to talk. As I shared my depression and desire to end my story, he made me pause to listen to his. He shared how his life was tragedy but also joy. He stopped in every day for the rest of my stay (3 1/2 months) to make sure that I knew I survived for a yet to be determined reason.
Every year since not only have I dealt with the physical pains of the accident but I fall into bouts of mental pains of depression. I can’t tolerate April Fool’s day, which can be difficult as a teacher. I feel lucky to have made it this far in my life.
We all have a story, we just need to share it. Society has to move from the position of judgement to one of understanding and respect. It shouldn’t be about whether you are black, white, gay, strait, battling mental illness or physical impairments: We are all humans, pause to hear each others story and give everyone respect!