To the Teacher Who Helped Me When I Couldn't Help Myself


“But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume? It isn’t easy, but I’ll try.” — Lulu, “To Sir With Love 

To the Teacher Who Helped Me When I Couldn’t Help Myself,

I don’t know if you know this, but I was breaking in the back of your classroom. Being 15 is hard enough, but I was at the lowest point of my depression and I was constantly shaking with anxiety. Sometimes it doesn’t occur to me how much our actions unknowingly effect people, but then I remember the effort you put into not only my education, but into me as a person.

It seems so long ago, but what you did for me stands out clearly. Before you even knew I was depressed, you supported me. I unintentionally withdrew mentally from your class, if I even showed up at all, and you still sought me out. I went from being a honor roll worthy student, to having more D’s and F’s than I’d like to admit. Because I wasn’t used to failing, it made it that much harder to show my face at school. I somehow thought if I didn’t come to class, my less than 2.0 GPA wasn’t real. I didn’t feel worthy of you or your time, so I pushed you away. Despite all of this, you still tried to help me.

Then came my diagnosis. You didn’t show me pity, but instead treated me with dignity and respect. I’m not sure you even intentionally did this, but you validated my pain and acknowledged that what I was going through was real. In a school where you could have let me become a just a face in a sea of students, you never let me feel secluded. You put a name to my face and you reminded me I wasn’t alone.

You noticed things about me I didn’t know anyone saw, and used these things as ways to help motivate me to do my work. You cheered me on during my hardest days and laughed with me on the rare days I felt rain drops of hope. 

I went from being the sad 15-year-old who could barely pass a class, to the ecstatic 18-year-old graduate with a 4.0. This is because of you. I made it through high school because you showed me the love and patience I couldn’t show myself. 

I hope this shows a little bit of my gratitude.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via julief514


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

woman in white vintage dress standing by loft window looking upset

Why My Perfectionism Is My Biggest Flaw

Recently I have been applying for jobs and made it to a third-round interview with a potential employer. The question came that always does: “What is your biggest flaw?” Every time I respond, “My perfectionism.” Many times, this is met with that look of, “Oh great. Another person who thinks so highly of themselves, they [...]
a woman on her phone

The Text That Meant the Most in My Self-Harm Recovery

I have a really weird coping mechanism when it comes to self-harm. I saw it on Pinterest once, and though I’ve read the lists that include hundreds of alternatives to self-harm, this one is the only one that has ever really worked for me. The meaning behind it is healing before hurting. So, instead of [...]
Vector illustration Eps10 file. Global colors. Text and Texture in separate layers.

15 Ways to Help Others Struggling With Mental Illness

Sometimes, we can find ourselves fixating on our jobs, our finances, our families, our weight, our significant other (or our lack of a significant other) and what the future has in store for us, generally. It’s very easy to focus on ourselves too much in a world that doesn’t seem to slow down. But when [...]
Couple holding hands while walking at sunset

My Caregiver Needs Care, Too

While there are professional caregivers, family members often provide care and support for those with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. My husband of 35 years is my caregiver. He does a spectacular job — making sure I have my meds, taking me to my appointments, running the errands I have no spoons to do, [...]