by

September 28, 2022

 

The Violence in Chicago Neighborhoods

A key to Chicago community areas can be found here.

I’m sure we’ve all seen or heard at some point the violence that unrelentingly occurs in urban neighborhoods. This epidemic is tearing families apart and killing many innocent children and teens who live in these areas. Last year, 875 people in Chicago died from gun violence. In 2020 also, there was a significant rise in neighborhood shootings from 2146 in 2019, as opposed to 3261 in 2020.

The violence is mostly gang-related, however, it affects everyone living in the west side, a predominantly low-income area. Just this past new year, a couple was sitting in their home on South Buffalo Avenue when stray bullets from a shooting nearby hit the couple. The husband is in critical condition, and the wife is dealing with a graze wound. Just another recent incident occurred near the Bronzeville neighborhood. Someone began shooting and a man driving was hit in the neck, crashing his car (Abc7chicago.com). All of these incidents have the same outcome: no arrests, and no suspects. 

The violence in these areas, as I said, is mostly gang-related. Talking about demographics, 75% of victims from last year’s gun violence were black. These deaths are not a result of police brutality or racism; it’s gang violence.

To further explain, most of the areas which see the most gun violence are predominantly black areas. In a map shown on centerforilpolitics.org, the communities with the most gun-related crimes are shown. This map corresponds to another map from chicagoreader.com, which shows the African American communities in Chicago. Unfortunately, it is the sad reality that we are faced with today. A lot of Chicago’s youth either find themselves in an unsafe environment in their own neighborhoods or become part of the cycle of violence in these areas through gangs.

There are many issues that feed into this violence. One of them being the school system failing these kids. In 2019, teachers from the Chicago public schools waged an 11-day strike for higher salaries. Going on strike means that for those eleven days, kids did not attend school. Kids and teens are meant to be in school, and although some maybe aren’t the best students, a school could be the only thing keeping them out of trouble. With that being said, these kids were left without school for almost two weeks. This gives many students, especially ones in bad areas, the ability to get into trouble and get involved in bad situations. Also, if these teachers were so concerned about their salary, they may not have been teaching and reaching out to their students as much as they could’ve been. Having a good teacher and role model can serve as a good example to teens and young adults, keeping them out of trouble and on the right path. I believe these teachers failed their students and continue to do so as the public school system remains corrupt. 

This problem is not something that is going to be resolved right away. It is going to take the work of the entire city and local communities to pull together to drive out gang violence.

  • One way we can start this process is by deploying more officers to patrol neighborhoods daily 24/7 to discourage gang activity.
  • Another thing is video surveillance. By putting cameras up and down neighborhood streets, a shooter or car can be more easily identified and brought to justice. Also, this could definitely discourage gangs from acting up if they know they are constantly being watched. With this, the punishment for gang-related crimes and shootings should be a lot harsher to set a standard.
  • The last idea I have is to create more interactive programs and clubs right within these neighborhoods. Something where kids and even young adults can bike/ walk to. These institutions could have many clubs, club sports, and even weekly seminars which help young adults learn how to interview, dress appropriately, and find a job. It could also offer tutoring through the city to kids who may need extra help in school.
  • Lastly, I believe that a lot of these youths feel as though the world is against them, which discourages them from staying in school. Schools should offer incentives to select students who are known to struggle academically. These incentives could be extra points, a gift card, something small but important to hook to students’ attention and keep them trying. 

 While Chicago and other urban areas are still a long way from settling the violence within their communities, the opportunity to pull together is there. It’s important we keep our youth safe and educated in areas that make it hard to do so. This change will not be easy nor quick, but it is a future we should all work to make into a reality. Every parent deserves to watch their child grow up, and every child deserves to grow up and have a chance at success.

Works Cited

Bogira, Steve. “Separate, Unequal, and Ignored.” Chicago Reader, Chicago Reader, 22 Feb. 2021, www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/chicago-politics-segregation-african-american-black-white-hispanic-latino-population-census-community/Content?oid=3221712.

Kerry Kasper July 28, 2019, et al. “We’ve Got the Rap of Being One of the Most Violent Cities in the Nation. Here’s a Detailed Look at Why, and Our Best Way out. – Center for Illinois Politics.” Center for Illinois Politics – Connecting People to Politics, www.centerforilpolitics.org/articles/weve-got-the-rap-of-being-the-most-violent-city-in-the-nation-heres-a-detailed-look-at-why-and-our-best-way-out.

D’Onofrio, Jessica, and Craig Wall. “2020 Cook County Deaths Break Records Due to Gun Violence, Opioid Overdoses, COVID-19, ME Says.” ABC7 Chicago, WLS-TV, 2 Jan. 2021, abc7chicago.com/chicago-shootings-2020-shooting-crime-stats-statistics/9250374/.

Brad Weisenstein / Labor by Brad Weisenstein February 1, et al. “Chicago Teacher Strike Threat Grows as Elementary Students Miss Return.” Illinois Policy, 1 Feb. 2021, www.illinoispolicy.org/chicago-teacher-strike-threat-grows-as-elementary-students-miss-return/.


Living Room For Quarantine

The image on the top left is my laptop. I use it when I am extremely bored or have work to do. When I want to research something, I get my laptop because it makes researching much easier. Also, when I get important emails, I like to open them on my laptop.

The image on the top right is my Xbox One. I use this console more than anything else. It keeps me busy because it is not much else to do. I regularly play NBA 2K20 or Fortnite with a couple of friends, but I might try other games from time to time.

The image on the bottom is my living room, and it is where I spend the majority of my time during the quarantine. The biggest TV in my home is located here, so I love watching movies here. Also, the living room is next to the kitchen, which is great because I love to eat.


Life in a four-wall room, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic it simply to say that being in your room all day while doing class work that you may not understand is hard. It is like we woke up one day and realized that this crisis is real and the only thing to help is if everyone stays in their homes and only go out when we really need to.


Jabril’s Space During Quarantine

Jabril’s Room
Jabril’s Computer Laptop
I have been doing schoolwork on my computer for months. The Coronavirus A.K.A. Covid-19 caused deaths and a lot of cases, so they closed schools. Therefore, Teachers and Students have to stay at home. Even though we still have to complete our school work from home. I did everything I could to complete all of my assignments on my computer.
Jabril’s Nintendo Switch
I played nintendo switch for months during quarantine. I have also been watching movies and videos. Eating food and snacks and Taking Naps. 

Pro Choice

Women’s rights have always been a huge debate in history. Women have had to protest for their right to own property, education, vote, and to be treated as equals to men. Even now women still need to protest for the right to do as they please for their own body. Abortion is a controversial topic and it raises the question of should we ban it or should we allow it to continue in the country.

One of the main arguments against abortion is that the women who choose to abort are killing a human life. This argument has been disproven. It has been stated that a fetus cannot survive by itself and is therefore not considered a human life yet. Laws are made to prevent abortion at 24 weeks when the fetus only has a 35% chance of surviving outside of the womb. A study done by medical professionals showed what happens to babies born between 22 and 27 weeks. “The study, involving nearly 5,000 babies born between 22 and 27 weeks gestation, found that 22-week-old babies did not survive without medical intervention. In the 78 cases where active treatment was given, 18 survived, and by the time they were young toddlers, seven of those did not have moderate or severe impairments. Six had serious problems such as blindness, deafness or severe cerebral palsy. Of the 755 born at 23 weeks, treatment was given to 542. About a third of those survived, and about half of the survivors had no significant problems.” The fetus cannot yet survive on its own and making the mother carry to term when she doesn’t want to is inhumane.

Legal abortions are important because they help prevent the woman from being in a dangerous situation. Almost 42 million women worldwide get abortions every year. Out of those 42 million about 20 million are unsafe and 5 million of those will have some type of long term health complication. “Worldwide, some 5 million women are hospitalized each year for treatment of abortion-related complications such as hemorrhage and sepsis, and abortion-related deaths leave 220,000 children motherless.”  Unsafe abortions are considered to be one of the easiest preventable causes of maternal mortality. There are many things necessary in order to keep the woman safe and healthy during the abortion procedure. “Every woman admitted for emergency postabortion care may require blood products, antibiotics, oxytocics, anesthesia, operating rooms, and surgical specialists.” Banning abortion isn’t going to stop abortion but rather force women to go for more dangerous alternatives. Illegal methods of abortion could harm the woman and could even lead to death. It is better to provide a safe way to abort than make women risk their lives by taking matters into their own hands. “Methods of unsafe abortion include drinking toxic fluids such as turpentine, bleach, or drinkable concoctions mixed with livestock manure.” There also also other ways by inserting foreign objects like twigs and coat hangers into the woman. These methods put the woman at a huge risk with their health just for an abortion.

Pregnancy is a huge matter in a woman’s life and it should be up to her whether she wants to continue it or terminate it for whatever reason. Women have been considered as second class citizens and have had to fight for their rights and to be treated with equal respect to men. Abortion should be a part of one of their rights as it is their body that they are devoting to childbirth. Why are we deciding that the life of the unborn is more important than those of who are giving birth to them. The United Nations has stated, “Fourteen years after the Millennium Development Goals went into effect, 222 million women who want to avoid or delay pregnancy still cannot obtain modern contraception in developing nations. In 66 countries, abortion is either prohibited in all circumstances or allowed only to save a woman’s life. Women in these circumstances have virtually no control over the size of their families — a serious problem that carries over to other important decisions they must make about their lives, like their education or employment.” While strides have been made for gender equality, women still struggle for their right to their own body in the United States.

If equality is to exist in this world women should get more than just the right to vote. Women need the right to choose what to do with their bodies. Banning abortions would be a devastating blow to women everywhere. All the rights women have fought for would mean nothing if they cannot have a choice in their future.


Art

My brother has always been the most supportive person in my family when it came to my art. He bought me my first sketchbook when he saw me doodling random things in my notebooks. He bought me any art supply I thought about even if they were priced at such an absurd amount. He bought me my first drawing tablet and the one after that when I felt I was ready to learn other types of art. He always shows off any things I’ve made to his friends on social media and he encourages me to show it off too. He taught me techniques and gave me tips from what he learned when he was younger. He encourages me to pursue some career in art. He does all this and more to make sure that I have the ability to do what he wasn’t able to. How will we feel if I tell him that I don’t actually like art?

When my mother was telling my brother and my sister about America, she told them that it’s a country where you’re able to do anything that you want and be happy. It’s a place of hopes and dreams that will be true with a little bit of hard work. He believed that and when he came he put his heart into his work. He loved drawing and sketching and just creating art of any kind. He joined groups that were art specific and when he went into high school he knew he wanted to pursue a career in it. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to. College was a difficult thing to get into and pay for when you weren’t a legal citizen. My sister had attempted to go but was forced to drop out as she wasn’t able to pay. My brother decided to just work instead of trying and not being able to just like my sister. In his free time he was always creating art and graffiti anywhere he could. He never lost his passion for it. As the years went on and he continued working he accepted the fact he won’t ever get to do it as a career. He’s fine with it now. He still occasionally doodles when he comes over for dinner. He enjoys it as much as he did when he was younger. He’s glad to see me draw and help me with it.

I didn’t start drawing because I found it fun and interesting, I did it because it was just a way to pass time for me. I did it because I thought it was one of the easiest things to do. I remember that day he saw me I was just watching a show and thought the art was cool. He saw me and asked me I liked drawing. I told him I thought it was alright and was immediately telling me that I should keep drawing and if I get better I can get a job doing that. Ever since then he’s told me to continue it and to practice more. For me it was fine in the beginning but now it’s been weighing me down. I feel as though I’m no longer really doing this for myself. I feel as though I’m only doing this for him and to live out his American Dream. There are days I feel unmotivated and feel like it’s just a chore. I practice every day in order to get better because he tells me to.

Parents living out their dreams through their children is a common thing. It’s looked down upon because they don’t give the child their own chance to find what they enjoy and what they do. They force the child to do things they may not enjoy just because they weren’t able to. Is there any difference between this and what my brother is doing?

It’s difficult to tell him I don’t want to do this. It’s difficult to keep doing this. It’s difficult to see him so proud of me. It’s difficult to see others like the things I do because I feel like I didn’t even do this. It’s such a small insignificant thing to complain about but when you’ve been doing it for years it piles up. I need to continue doing this to not feel like I just wasted his time and his money. It feels like I have no other choice. It’s a small thing to really complain about but it’s become a bigger part of my life that I don’t really have control over.

I really don’t want to continue but I have no other choice.


Shyness

My hands were shaking, I can feel my face heat up and turn into a shade of red. I kept repeating the same word “umm” for what it felt like hours unit my teacher finally spoke up and asked if I had anything else to add. I quickly look down and shook my head no, even though I had about ten things left to say but I just couldn’t speak as much as I wanted to. As I sat back down, my teacher told me that I would have to do my presentation all over again the next day.  

Since I can remember I have always been a shy person, when it came to school I was never the one to raise my hand even though I knew the answer. I honestly can’t tell you how I became this shy person, who blushes and turns really red when someone calls my name or puts me on the spot. Being shy in school, we are the main target of teachers, who want us to participate and hear us say at least one thing in the whole school year. The only time teachers and students hear you say something is the first day of school when they make you say your name to the whole class, while you’re getting all red, trying to avoid eye contact with anyone.

As a shy person, there have been times that a person didn’t know we had a class together or they didn’t know my name. What many don’t get is that like many other students I don’t like coming to school but most students also don’t have to worry if you are going to talk in class if a teacher going to call on them because they easily talk in front of the class. I don’t get called out by my teachers everyday, but there are times that they do and I honestly believe I have developed a sixth sense where I get nervous even before they call my name. When I do have to talk, my teachers tend to repeat the same questions “can you speak up” or “can you say that again I can’t hear you, can you guys hear her?” and I get if they get annoyed repeating them but we also get annoyed hearing them. Throughout the years, shy people have their fair share of teachers who really want them to participate and will get any chance to call on them. I understand that teachers want them to participate, so they can express their opinion but what they don’t understand is that we do have opinions on everything of course and sometimes we would like to be heard. But the power of nervousness and shyness are too high to actually participate. I do think it is a good thing that once in a while you should get them to participate and interact with others. Shy people encounter different type of teachers, but I think that teachers should know that not all shy people are the same.

There are some shy people what actually want to talk but they either don’t know how, without getting all shy and quiet or they simply can’t talk in front of the whole class. There are also shy people who are actually talkative whether it is with their friends or just simply outside the class. So you might see them outside of class talking, laughing maybe even being a bit loud when they are around their friends and that’s because they go close to them meaning they got to know them personally so don’t expect them to be like that inside the classroom.  I once had this teacher, that talked to me after recess asking me why I couldn’t be as loud as I was in recess when I gave presentations and response was “I don’t know”. It might depend on the person,as they might have a specific reason why they can’t talk in front of the class or they simply don’t know why.


Do you hear me?

“You have something in your ear.”

No that’s my hearing aid its suppose to be in my ear.

“Oh so like you can’t hear, are you deaf? CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”

There was no need for that I can hear you fine and no I’m not deaf I have hearing loss there is a difference.

“Is there really, either you hear or you don’t, oh wait does that mean you do that hand thing to communicate what’s it called?”

Sign language.

“Yes that, do you do that since you can’t hear.”

No I never learned that plus I’ve been speaking to you perfectly find, just because I can’t fully hear doesn’t mean I can’t hear at all.

“But you said you have hearing loss. You’re not making sense.”

This is one of many conversation I have regularly as I was growing up. My mother wanted me to view my hearing loss as something that made me special, but entering into an elementary school where staff and students had never heard of hearing loss didn’t make me feel special. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me and that I was a problem. I thought that if I were to not wear my hearing aids, it would help me make friends or get a classmate to talk to me. Since I wanted to keep my hearing loss a secret, it made it difficult for my teachers to believe me when I said I did my homework wrong because didn’t hear them explain the examples in class. I was that student in class who would ask everyone else what the teacher said after she just said it.

I still remember the fire drill in kindergarten when my teacher was telling us instruction in what to do when it happens. All I heard was to stand in a straight line as we are walking out the building, as we were waiting outside I asked the student in the other line behind me how long does the drill last. Right before he could answer he looked up and stood quiet. I figured maybe he didn’t know, when I turn to face forward I was frightened to see my teachers face right in front of mine any closer I think our nose could of touch. She told me in a firm voice to turn around, stay quiet and follow the class. As we were walking she was next to me with her hand on my back pushing me to move faster as if I was walking slow. Heading into class I quickly sat in my seat as the teacher started to announce “ Very good class everyone seem to follow the direction except for one student who decided to make her own rules” she looked directly at me. I was so embarrassed I turn to look around the class and saw students pointing and giggling. It was the first time I cried so quietly, questioning myself what was wrong with me.

The children at my elementary school started to get a little to comfortable with staring at my ears. I didn’t feel to right every time that happen, it was like they were waiting for me to entertain them. One classmate decided to ask me “ What’s in your ears,is there something wrong with you?” I didn’t answer, I was too afraid too but after hearing the same question repeatedly, I finally said I have hearing loss. My hearing aid is what helps me hear. After that, other students started to ask about the “things in my ear” and it escalated to them yelling,poking and touching my ears and then pulling my hearing aids out. The average cost for one hearing aid is $3,500 and your everyday insurance doesn’t cover hearing aids. I wear two, one for my left and one for my right, from kindergarten to third grade I had to fix my hearing aids five times. It came to the point I had to go to school without hearing aids, I had to work twice as hard to earn passing grades.   

I use to find it difficult to accept the fact that I was different but now I am more accepting of it.Other people think I’m different and question me on what I am instead of who I am. People  would leave me alone unless it was mentioned on a paper or someone noticed my hearing aids. I am treated differently like my hearing loss is something that just happened and all of a sudden I’m viewed as someone completely different and they don’t know how to treat me, even though they have already met me. On some occasions people would ask why don’t I just say that I am deaf because It’s easier to understand. I won’t say I am deaf because I am not. They make it seem that just saying you’re deaf makes you someone to praised on because you had it hard, and people would treat me better If I say that I am. It’s not a choice to have hearing, I can’t pick and choose a day when I want to be deaf or when I want to fully hear everything. I was born this way hearing loss is when your ability to hear is reduced. It makes it more difficult for you to hear speech even though it’s loud enough to hear.

My mother would make sure I was getting the help I need to improve my skills as a student and boost my confidence as a person who is capable of achieving high goals.My mother would ask staff from the school to see what are the best opportunities are for me. She also made these staff members knew who i was. My mother would make sure to attend every meeting to make sure I will be receiving the help that I needed. Taking off of work didn’t matter to her her first priority was me. She encourage me to do new things like clubs and finding out that my school had cross country for me to be active with the school and with other students. I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.

If it wasn’t for my mother pushing me for what she saw and knew what I was capable of doing. In my high school years I was placed in a program that help students with their learning disability and are deaf or hard of hearing this lead me to meeting the most supportive and hard working teachers I know. They understood my mothers position, doing the best they can to help their child to have a better life. I had to learn to speak up for myself and create a bond with my teachers which wasn’t easy, the thought of walking up to a teacher asking to place in front of the class so I’ll be able to hear them or to raise my hand and ask for the teacher to explain it in another way, 14 year old me said no, there’s no way that’s happening.

It took a long time to allow my mother to help and support me with finding my voice. Before I use to be terrified to ask for help, I had no clue students like me have accommodations in class, but now I’m able to talk with a teacher, i’m awkward about it, but I get the help I need. I use to have nothing but failing grades, then I worked my way to entering honor classes , even tried an AP course. I join sports like cross country and track, I became involved, started to get comfortable with my community, I was even able to travel to Senegal West Africa to help a community in poverty. This wouldn’t have happen if I allow the negativity win, people still question about my hearing but now I have the upper hand because I’ve proven myself that my hearing doesn’t limit me, it pushes me to learn another route to my goals.               


Addiction

At a very young age, I have been around an addict of alcohol and cocaine.

I never thought in a million years I would grow up with it tainting my childhood. The addict was my brother and it has been hard to try and move past what happened. I saw side of my brother that I never knew. I knew a good man that loved to work and provide for his family. He would take me and my nephew to the Rainforest Cafe that is in downtown all the time. Alcohol and drugs ruined that.

To be honest, I never knew of my brother’s cocaine addiction until he was forced back home in his mid 20s or so. He lost his job and his home to foreclosure. He also lost his family when his wife decided to leave and take my nephew who was 5 to Mexico. It would be about 5 plus years until my nephew would return from Mexico. My brother was in a really dark place. He could not hold onto job for more than 5 months at a time so he turned to alcohol. Fast forward to when I was 8 or so my brother was in a toxic marriage that the only thing good about it was my nephew who is now 16 years old. I remember him drinking a lot and coming over to my home whenever he would be in argument with his wife. But, one argument I remember  the most was because he was so drunk and angry at his wife that he flipped the kitchen table in my home. Everything that was on the table went flying everywhere.

It hurt me to see all my mom’s things on the floor broken because my dad works so hard to be able to provide for us. This was when I realize how out of control he was becoming due to this marriage and alcohol. Then, I finally encountered how my brother was a cocaine addict. It was the day I had to call 911 for the first time. I don’t remember how old I was but I was in middle school. I remember be woken up at 2 morning to sound of someone pacing the hallway and all the lights were turned on. I got up out of bed and my sister was already in my hallway. My brother was out of control. He was running the hallway of our small apartment. He had no shirt or shoes on. My parents were trying to calm him down because when he is high he becomes paranoid. He starts to get delusional and thinks that someone is after him trying to hurt him. He hurt himself by running into our heater. The metal cut him and all I saw was blood.

This was the day that I made my first 911 call. My family was screaming at me to call 911 because I could see in their eyes they could not control him anymore. My parents and two siblings were all on top of him trying to stop him from getting up. I called 911 and said crying for help that brother was acting crazy under the influence of alcohol. I will never forget it because this is not what I expected would be the circumstances of my first call to emergency services.

I cannot forgive and forget. Cocaine is a vicious drug that takes a toll on its user. The user takes it usually by snorting it through the nose. But, most do not know the consequences of it. You will suffer from nose bleeds and nerves in the nose will be burned. It will hurt your breathing and allow you to smell well. Also, you will constantly inhaling like if you have had a stuffy nose with mucus.

Drugs are never the answer to your problems. It only makes it worse speaking from someone who has seen the pain and heartbreak an addict can do themselves and their loved ones. It cost the relationship I used to have with my brother. I still have a lot of resentment and anger against my brother but,not just because of his drug and alcohol addiction. He disrespects my parents and for that I rarely speak to him. I can’t have a normal conversation with him because everything that he did flashes back. I can not stress enough that if you are an addict or knows someone who is one seek help for them or yourself. There is always way out to the brighter side.


The way you see a situation may effect you.

Going through my teen years with a disabled parent had me constantly torn between the world I lived and the world I thought I deserved. A few years ago, my father experienced a stroke. A father is mostly everyone’s childhood hero, a person you never thought would get hurt, the strongest person ever, both mentally and physically seeing him like this is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. To me my father was someone I turned to when I was in need of protection or help. He was someone who would carry me inside when I was a child after I fell asleep in the car, who would walk me through a scary movie telling me it’s not real, and who would give me advice on anything he could relate to. I am not looking for pity at all. I was not the one suffering, and my parents never accepted any sort of pity for themselves.

I remember that first trip to the hospital. My mother picked me up from school early and we went to Mount Sinai Hospital to see my father. I remember my mom telling me that my dad was going to stay there for a couple of days. The thought of what happened stayed in my head as we walked into the hospital room. My dad laid there, locked in a bed, his body not able to respond to what he truly desired. Several machines were keeping him alive. I was terrified, but my mother encouraged me to get close. I looked into my father’s eyes, and he couldn’t even look down as he was speaking to my mother. I put my hand into his hand as he encouraged me to get closer, and it took every ounce of his strength just to squeeze it. Seeing him like this was the hardest thing I have ever experienced.

My father is paralyzed on the entire left side of his body. His left leg is permanently straight and his left hand is permanently a closed fist. You have to peel back his fingers just to give his nails a trim, they are almost impossible to move. His balance is almost entirely gone, so he needs a cane to walk. Adapting to his physical limitations is a daily battle. His walking cane has basically become his left side, as he uses it to close doors, open cabinets, and extend his reach. These experiences have enabled me to feel motivated about what I want to do with my life.

When my father returned home from the hospital things were very  difficult for me and my mother. My mother would put my father’s socks and shoes on every morning after she would bathe him. I got called to help my mom get my dad in and out of bed, grab water every time a medicine had to be taken, and organize all his medications, etc. many times a day. So often that I sometimes didn’t have time to finish assignments, or if I would finish assignments I would not have time for sleep. Keeping up with my grades to be able to keep performing at the top 20%, while striving to get to the top 10%, during this experience was very stressful. Some days were worse than others. I had to miss certain days of school in order to help my father with anything he needed while my mother went off to work her 3 jobs, but I would take advantage of those days to be able to catch up on any missing assignments. I always here students complaining about their parents, how they’re always on their back about cleaning their rooms or doing their laundry. It’s crazy to me how someone could even say they hate their parents. Someone else can have it way worse than what you’re complaining about. I have friends who do not even have their parents and are struggling to get by. It’s very rough growing up without having someone to look by to decide what path you’d like to take in life. Kids usually take after their parents or become the complete opposite because of their parents.

Despite his limitations, seeing my father struggle and never giving up no matter what has really motivated me to always look at the positive in every situation. His struggle has given me purpose, helping others is what I need to do. I want to be the person that others can rely on. I want to share in helping others look forward to living their life no matter the situation. His powerful will and determination to be better has motivated me to become a person who can take on any challenge in order to follow my dreams of becoming a registered nurse.


Educating People on Mental Illnesses

When I was 10 years old, I had my innocence taken away. I was manipulated and violated on more than one occasion by the same person. I am an abuse survivor. Before I came to terms with what had happened, I was severely depressed and had attempted to take my own life on two separate occasions. All this occurred before my 15th birthday. Needless to say, I grew up quickly. After 5 years of struggling, I had finally asked my mother if I could see a therapist. After 1 month of seeing my therapist, I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. When I was first diagnosed, I was confused. I had the idea that only veterans had PTSD. My therapist explained to me that I was triggered by certain sounds or a certain smell.

When I’m triggered, I can’t move and struggle to breathe. Terror runs through my veins for what seems like hours but, in reality, it’s only for a minute. When I learned that what I was dealing with had a name, I was relieved. Knowing that what I was feeling was common for someone who went through what I did gave me a sense of peace.

Coping with my PTSD was something I found very difficult to do while at school. Loud environments triggered me easily, and I found it hard to concentrate on anything. I was always on my guard, and I stayed away from all people. Kids at school would trigger me on purpose just to see my reaction. It turned into a game for them. Seeing me freeze mid-sentence when someone drops a textbook on the ground was just a game for them. For me, it was a living nightmare. My classmates knew what happened to me and used it against me for their pleasure. I forgave them because I knew they did not understand what was wrong with me. They just assumed I was a freak who couldn’t be around people

This happened because we are not taught that mental illnesses are serious and should not be toyed with. When we educate people on the seriousness of mental illnesses, they learn that these illnesses are just like any physical diseases people have. They are just as serious and need to be treated. When people with PTSD go untreated, terrible things happen. They can hurt themselves and other people when their disease goes untreated. I went through the same thing before I got the help I needed. I was violent, slept very little which affected my mental health, and I made an attempt on my life.

Now, after treatment and therapy, I have some semblance of a normal life. I still get triggered easily, but I have learned, through therapy, to control myself and to push through it. It may not seem like someone you know is struggling through a mental illness, but the chances are that you know someone who is going through something. Because I wasn’t educated on the signs of PTSD, I did not know that I was going through the same thing. By educating people on the dangers of illnesses and by knowing the signs, people can understand that they are not alone, and they could get the help they need just like I did.


Anxiety

Anxiety-riddled 8-year-old with wide eyes and a scared mind. Waking up every morning not being able to breathe and literally crawling into my clothes. Dreading every moment I’m away from the security of four walls and the comfort of the closed blinds. That was me nearly every day until I finally got help.

No one knew why I acted the way I did. Isolating myself from anyone and anything. Having frantic eyes that look over everything and make sure there is a way to escape and quick. I never liked going out, being around unknown people triggered me more. My mother knew something was “wrong” with me. She finally decided to get me help. Personally, I didn’t want help, because who’s going to know exactly how I feel and what’s going on inside my head.

Going into that office at 11 years old felt like a prison. White walls, loud ticking clock, sliding glass at the front desk, and a little waiting room with 5-6 chairs and loveseat. I was supposed to tell this man how I felt? How am I supposed to do that if I don’t even know what I feel? Little words and short sentences felt endless and it had felt as if time had stopped. The first visit is always the most dreaded. Before you leave you get the name of your therapist, a total stranger. Great.

You go to therapy and you’re expected to open up to this person you don’t know and they’re supposed to help you. How’re you supposed to do that if you’re “scared” of everything? They ask a question to get you to open up, you hesitate at first but finally, you speak. It’s nerve-wracking when they write something down or type on their computer. Those little sounds are amplified.

As I started going more often, I started to get more comfortable. It was nice not getting anxious leaving the house or even the room. Knowing what you’re going through and there’s someone that actually understands was reassuring. You can go through this alone, but it saves you a lot of emotions and trouble of not knowing.

Getting on medication was a rollercoaster. The chemicals in your brain become imbalanced as they try to balance themselves, how ironic. There wasn’t one consistent medication that I was on that helped. Switching medications going through more lows than highs. Finally, I got off of them. I coped. I learned healthy ways to manage. Five years had finally passed and I was finally discharged from therapy.

It’s been two years of no help but my own. Walking away with what therapy had taught me. It can get brutal at times. You never know how your day is going to go. Are you going to spazz out on anyone that tries to help when they see you beating your head on the wall? Are you keeping your head low so they don’t notice you’re off? Or are you going to act okay enough to get through the day? It seems like you’re a different person every day. Sometimes you can’t get out of the house even if you literally drag yourself to do so. Other days you’re perfectly okay, but anything can set you off.

Anxiety is something you can go through alone but it’s a killer. You might think it’s nothing big and it’ll blow over but it’ll slowly eat away at you. You can find ways to cope with it but in all honesty, getting help is the best way. Even if it’s not professional help and just someone you’re close to is there is more than enough. Don’t let the anxiety keep you tethered to your house.

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