Oftentimes, teachers tell us students that they’d be there if we ever needed anyone to talk to about things such as school and our lives outside of school. Out of the many teachers that told me I could talk to them, my 6th grade social studies teacher was the only one I was actually comfortable talking to. I would talk to him about a lot of things: school, volleyball, and any problems I had with friends or boys. He taught me a lot of things other than social studies, important life lessons. And he always made sure I was okay. It felt safe to talk to him.
However, there were some things I felt I couldn’t share with anyone . During 8th grade, I was going through very serious depression. I had recently broken up with my boyfriend. My mental health had been spiraling. I realized I couldn’t be with someone knowing that I wasn’t happy with myself. But I was also worried for his safety. I went to school the next morning in tears. In the hall I saw my 6th grade social studies teacher, I asked him if we could talk. I needed to tell an adult, someone who could possibly help.
After I finished explaining the situation, he told me he was glad I came to him for help. He asked if I wanted him to tell the principal. I told him not to. I didn’t want anyone else knowing. I headed to class, but as soon as I sat down, my homeroom teacher received a call. He looked at me. I knew right away that my social studies teacher had told our principal. I was called down to the office. As I was making my way there, I saw my teacher in the hall. I felt flushed with anger. The feeling of betrayal ran through my body.
Walking into the office, I was extremely nervous. I sat down with my principal and decided to tell him everything. It was hard at first, I hadn’t talked to him before. My principal promised to make sure my ex-boyfriend was okay, but he also arranged for me to meet with the school’s social worker. I then explained the situation again for the 3rd time. She then asked if I’ve ever felt depressed. I decided to answer truthfully, although this was hard to do. Any time someone asked about my depression, I couldn’t tell them without breaking down into tears. But I built up my courage and answered yes. I told her too that I had self harmed. She was the first ever adult I told, which was the first big step in my healing process. She called my mom who took me to visit a mental health clinic and talk about everything again. At this point, I was mad at the whole world, but I was especially mad at my social studies teacher for telling the principal in the first place. I thought I could trust him and it felt like it was no longer safe to talk to him.
But I began meeting with a social worker a few times a week. And as I began to meet with her, I started feeling better. Since I started having sessions with her, my depression eased and I stopped hurting myself for a while. I found that I was becoming me again.
More than a year later I was watching a volleyball game at the high school and I saw my 6th grade social studies teacher. It was the first time seeing him since I started high school. All my memories resurfaced. I had been too angry and lost at the time to realize he only told the principal because he cared about me and my safety. I realize now he was more than my social studies teacher. I genuinely feel like he saved me, like he is the reason why I’m still here today. I never got the chance to thank him properly, but he had a huge role in my life. I often look back on this event as motivation to keep fighting. The healing process for anything takes time. A lot of time.
© Isabella Hay. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.