As a sophomore in high school, my depression reached its highest peak with an added symptom I never knew existed at the time. Violent thoughts. I thought of horrible, terrible things to do to people and it truly scared me. I’m not a violent person by nature, so this was a nightmare to deal with.
Eventually the thoughts escalated to the point that I wanted to act on them. I WANTED to hurt people, but I would never let myself do so (of course). So instead of dealing with this alone, I reached out to my school counselor for guidance. I was lost, scared, and too ashamed to approach my parents.
I went to the counselors’ office, hoping to see someone right away; but instead of being escorted to one of the offices, the secretary asked what time I wanted for an appointment. Wait, what? An appointment? She wasn’t even seeing anyone!
Instead of arguing, I agreed to be called down in an hour. Not a big deal, I guess I could wait. Good God, I was wrong. I was so anxious! During the wait-time, I couldn’t stop thinking if it was a mistake to even ask for help.
My moment of courage escaped, and I honestly wanted to run home like the terrified brat I felt like at the time. But eventually the time to be called arrived and I left for the counselor.
Entering her office, I noticed she was an absolutely lovely lady, who for the sake of privacy I’ll call Gloria (since it’s an awesome name).
Gloria listened and asked questions, never patronizing me or getting into something I didn’t want to talk about. She understood my fear and actually helped me to call my mom to tell her what I had been dealing with.
I was an absolute wreck, but relieved. As the phone call with my mom came to an end I couldn’t help but notice Gloria pulling out a folder, taking out a sheet of paper, and setting it in front of me. As I put down the phone she began to explain what this paper was. It was a release document.
At the time, I was barely listening. I had cried myself to exhaustion. But what I did hear was that the school would provide me a “safe” space when these thoughts came along again. Okay. Cool.
I took the document home with me and presented it to my mother who immediately became red in the face with anger and astonishment.
The release document, with my parents’ signatures, would make it so the school knew I was a “threat.” A teacher would be by my side 24/7 to watch what I do. With this document I would be made out to be a horrible monster. What. The. Hell!?
My mom threw the paper away, explaining that even with these thoughts, the school had no right to do such a thing. I didn’t need their safe space, nor a teacher, nor a warning sign over my head.
All the while I couldn’t help but be dumbfounded. Gloria reassured me that no one would see me differently, that there was nothing wrong, just a minor complication. Now she was trying to make it seem like I was a war machine?
After the initial hurt went away I figured she was only following protocol and I wouldn’t hold it against her.
But it wasn’t the only instance where everything just seemed… Off.
That same year I made friends with a girl I’ll call “Liz.” Liz’s home life was… difficult, to say the least. She took care of her three siblings because their mother was neglectful and abused drugs. There were more times than I’d like to admit when a few friends and I would have to force Liz to eat something since she was saving food for her family.
The day we finally decided to step in we went to the counselors’ office and demanded to see someone. No appointment, no nothing. This had to be dealt with now.
It took fifteen minutes until a counselor took us in, Liz taking me as emotional support. I watched as the counselor, someone I call “Trunchbull” since that’s what she reminded me of, dismissed Liz’s claims and told her to “do the best you can.”
The next day we returned and demanded a different counselor. This one I’ll call “Mark.” He was a nice man, you could tell he wanted to help, but he said the same thing: “Do the best you can.”
It took Liz five calls to DCFS, a trip to the principal, a call to the police, and her mother being arrested (for non-drug-related charges) before anything was done. Liz went through things that could have been avoided if those two counselors had done something more.
So why didn’t they? Why didn’t they step in and help? Why did Gloria try to make my parents sign a waiver that would ultimately change how everyone looked at me?
Well, that’s the question. Are schools using too many restrictions to actually help? All three counselors have guidelines to follow and these guidelines are to protect the school, the parents, and the child.
But when is it too much?
Teenagers are always made out to be over-dramatic; it’s a part of the media and our daily lives. Because of this, claims of serious issues are often brushed aside to be looked at later or to never be looked over at all. And even when the situation is looked at, the school sometimes makes the issue a lot bigger than it is, causing more stress on the victim than necessary.
It’s frustrating. BEYOND frustrating. Even writing this is causing my blood to boil, but there’s not much I or anyone else can do.
I’ve had sexual assault complaints brushed aside (another story, another time), and yet if someone were to call another me or my friend a “b***h” it’s the biggest ordeal in the world.
As a teenager, it’s nice to have help. Instead of looking at it from the sideline, take it from the perspective of the victim. Sometimes it’s the adults who are being over-dramatic. Our opinions and they we feel is valid and it’s time we are listened to.
So what can be done to have more of an open-door policy that makes it a safe place to unload? Should you unload? Or should you see a clinician type therapist instead? What if you have no insurance/money? Please post your comments below!
Anonymous Student Writer