To the History Teacher Who Helps Me on Bad Days With Depression Without Realizing It
I sit in front of you as nearly your complete opposite. I know you as religious and conservative, proud of your wife and kids. You know me as a transgender boy who’s liberal and pretty clueless about religion.
I’ve never told you why I sit in front of you.
We talk about a plethora of topics during the period I’m supposed to be in class and you’re on your prep. I often feel awkward and wonder if you think something I say is interesting, or if you even care. On one afternoon, I let my guard down and tell you I’m having a bad day. “Everyone has those,” you say. Yes, everyone does. But not like this.
Talking to someone on a bad day is something I usually refrain from doing. That sounds ridiculous, but this is a game I’ve played before. I’ve trusted people — a teacher, actually — only for them not to return the next year. I’ve made myself vulnerable and, to no fault of the other person, felt abandoned.
When I decide to open up to you, I have to ignore everything in my head telling me I’m not worth your time, or anyone’s time for that matter. I have to ignore the thoughts that tell me you have better things to be doing, I’m making you uncomfortable or you just don’t care. I have to overcome these thoughts before the bad day becomes something I can’t get over alone. Before it’s a bad week, or a bad month, or who knows what else.
You see, I have depression. My bad days start in my head, sometimes for no reason at all. But then I feel it in my stomach and my chest. Sometimes I can barely function. I don’t show that, but my insides feel like they’re full with cement about to harden.
You just sitting there with me is more helpful than you might realize. You being there makes sure the cement doesn’t harden, makes sure I’m able to make it through the day.
I never expected it would be you I go to when I have a bad day. You’ve surprised me in ways I could have never imagined. I trust you.
Still, I never gave you the word for what’s going on. I never told you that I’m depressed. It’s scary. I get anxious. I make up excuses as to why I shouldn’t.
So, here I am.
This is to my history teacher: thank you for helping me through my bad days with depression, even if you don’t know it.
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