“I’m 18 years old and a recent graduate from Anderson New Technology High School. I have suffered from chronic depression and suicidal thoughts since I was about 7 years old. It began after I started having surgeries to repair my collarbone. I also suffered from scoliosis and kyphosis, which are curvatures of the spine. I remember thinking, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ Kids at my school would taunt me with names such as ‘fatty’ and ‘old grandpa’, and it was heartbreaking. It became hard to focus on my schoolwork because of the physical and emotional pain I was in, and it spiraled from there.”
“If you’re hurting, you shouldn’t keep it inside. It’ll only eat away at you until you can’t physically be here anymore. There are people and places to help you get through this. Hope is always out there. It was there for me, and it’s still there for you.”
“Around the age of 13, my mom had me go to therapy sessions at Remi Vista. I became really close with my therapist and was able to get things off my chest. Being able to vent what I was feeling made me feel so much better.”
My depression came back when I had to prepare for another surgery that required inserting two titanium rods into my back to straighten my spine. I was so anxiety ridden and scared that something might go wrong. I never talked to my mom about it. I didn’t want to worry her more than usual. The surgery was successful, and when I finally did talk to her, it strengthened our relationship even more. Keeping things in for so long hurt me. Sharing that something is wrong is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.”
“Going through so many surgeries and spending so many days in hospital beds tend to dampen your outlook on life. Parents whose kids are dealing with physical disorders or surgeries should talk to them. If they don’t, the kids are going to keep to themselves. If they start withdrawing from family activities, you need to talk to them and get them to tell you what’s wrong.”
Listen to Darrien talk about his numerous surgeries and how it affected his mental health.
“A few months after my surgery, my mom bought a $50 guitar. I was so happy to have it in my hands! I started writing my own music and practiced every day. It became very therapeutic for me. Writing music has helped me deal with my inner demons and has shed new light on what I’m feeling. When I can take my pain and turn it into something beautiful, it makes everything worthwhile.”
“Anderson New Tech is a really tight-knit school, and it played a big role in helping all of us get through our rough patches. You can be yourself there. You don’t have to create a persona to make people like you. The teachers are so friendly and will actually talk to you if they think you’re depressed or feeling down. It really creates a family atmosphere.”
“I wrote a song not too long ago for the senior class. The chorus of the song is ‘I survived the time of my life’, which is meant to be ironic in a sense. Our parents tell us high school is supposed to be the time of our lives, but for many of us, it’s the complete opposite. A lot of us went through really difficult experiences in high school. When I talked to my friends about the meaning of the song, they agreed with it 100 percent.”
Listen to Dairrien talk about how music has worked as an important form of therapy in his life.
Listen to Dairrien’s original song “18 years (We survived)”.