“Dealing with depression was my first high school experience.”
These are the words of sophomore Teylor Ellerbe. Time has not been all that kind to her since she first started at the school in the fall of 2013.
Ellerbe had many new experiences when entering high school after attending Young Scholars Charter School. She found new friends, new atmospheres, and romantic encounters.
Unfortunately, Teylor began dealing with depression soon after, and felt that she had no one to turn to.
“Last year Teylor was really nice, she shared and was involved in people’s conversations.” says Ellerbe’s friend Myi Harte.
But four or five months into freshman year, she smiled less and kept everything bottled up and hidden away from prying eyes. She treated people differently than before, she constantly had her guard up. Teylor acknowledged that she had a problem but did not handle the situation well.
“I closed myself off, I think that writing out the way I felt helped me because I could understand what I was going through without having to tell anyone.”
Teylor’s experience is not unique. Many teenagers worldwide deal with depression and feel as though they cannot talk to anyone about their experiences. Unfortunately many of these children turn to suicide or drugs as a way to free themselves from the dark abyss of depression. According to the Parents Guide to Teen Depression (hyperlink), only one in every five teenagers receive help for their depression.
As the emotional counselor at SLA, Zoe Siswick is no stranger to this problem. “Yeah I think a lot of people come to me dealing with symptoms that mimic depression. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if it is diagnosed depression or just having emotional challenges.”
She sees many students that transition into high school and change the way they act. “So many changes and transitions makes some people more prone to exhibiting those things.”
Many people who suffer from emotional distress and depression find a group or thing to become attached to. They pour themselves into the event or group. This allows them to become happy and focus on a greater goal.
Ms. Siswick confirmed this practice. “Finding what works for you like running, writing, music releases endorphins that will make them happy.”
For Ellerbe, the solution was poetry. This was her outlet and place to understand her feelings. Through poetry she could express her feelings without having to say them aloud. She did not seek out Siswicks help or guidance but was still able to get through her depression.
Teylor’s passion, poetry allowed her to create long lasting friends that have stuck by her through tough times. Poetry club has allowed her to grow, they understand her and her struggles, especially when it came to getting over a romantic interest.
“I kept falling for the same thing over and over again but it was the same thing he did not change and finally sophomore year I realized I deserved better.”
Teylor states that she is closer with her friends than the people living in her home. She has learned that because her friends are able to understand and help her better than her family can.
“Poetry club is my family, like I really love them,” she said.
Poetry club is just one of many communities that provide support for students who may be struggling with mental health issues at SLA. Many clubs at SLA provide a safe haven and an environment that allows students to feel safe and accepted.
“SLA is filled with so many levels of family, like advisory, your stream, and softball just created another family underneath the big umbrella of the SLA family.” says sophomore Ari Haven, who played on the softball team last year.
Softball helped Ari find new friends from different streams as well as grades within the SLA community, She was also able to help others who were also apart of the team.
“Since I did not play that much my key role was a cheerleader. I made signs and encouraged them, it made them smile. And when I was able to play they all cheered me on just like I’d cheered them on. They were always very supportive.”
SLA allows people to create new bonds and find help whenever they feel they are in need of it. Clubs are just one way of finding your passion and a safe environment that allows you to be yourself. Teylor is one example of how SLA and the many communities within it, allows students to overcome an obstacle in their lives.