We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofMelanie Mendes

On June 10, 2016, I woke up in a hospital bed from a coma. I was sent to a suicide prevention hospital a few days later. I felt a mixture of emotions: anger, frustration, sadness. I could not believe that I had survived. Even though part of me didn’t want to be alive anymore, I tried to pretend I was happy because I saw the hurt in my Mom, Grandma, and sister’s eyes. 

A week later as I sat on a hospital couch, I started having flashbacks of everything that had happened and all the pain I had been experiencing for so long. 

From a young age, I have always believed that everyone is born with their own unique gift. I was fortunate enough to be born with the special gift of being able to care for others. However, sometimes my greatest gift can be my biggest adversity. Sometimes growing up, people walked all over me and got away with it because of how forgiving I am. I always forgave others no matter what they did to me or how they hurt my feelings. 

My sister would sometimes tell me I have to stick up for myself even though at the time I didn’t know how. I carried those words with me for so long. I started realizing that I was in pain and I let people take advantage of the good person I was. I didn’t realize that many people that I thought cared about me had abandoned me when my mental health struggles started. 

I felt insecure for so long, and I kept my pain hidden. I didn’t speak to anyone about how I felt because I didn’t trust anyone. I was falling into depression and experiencing feelings of hopelessness and being alone. I pretended I was happy at school and at home, but I felt like no one cared, which is how I ended up in the hospital. 

During my treatment, I met an amazing friend, who stood by my side until we got better together, and it felt great. I started seeing a doctor, and he gave me a notebook and said ¨Here Mel, take your feelings out on paper for a little and see if it helps.” At first, I was angry and just ran to my room holding the notebook and started crying. I thought, ¨I hate it here. Why can't anyone see how I'm feeling?¨ My friend came to my room and hugged me, and after she encouraged me to try writing about my feelings, she left to give me some space. 

A few minutes later I got a pen and notebook and started writing, and when I tell you it was the best feeling I have felt in a long time, believe me. Writing changed my life. It made me feel like I had a trusted place to put all my feelings. I have learned so much about myself, and I will never let anyone take anything from me again. 

After I got out of the hospital I started seeing multiple therapists who helped me a lot, even though it took time. I started working on myself and learning how to love me. I’m in high school now, and I’ve met some amazing new people. I finally feel okay with people leaving, and I can stand up for myself now. I am currently writing a book and see myself going to college for business. I have come a long way and still have more to accomplish. 

© Melanie Mendes. 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.