What Keeps You Going?
By Lindsay Gottlieb
Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide, self-harm, and mild substance use. You may want to stop reading if these subjects upset you. This article is merely for educational purposes.
After losing someone to suicide and going through her journal in which I read some of the most disturbing material I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes, I figured it was time to write about how much mental health matters to me. My name is Lindsay Gottlieb, I am fifteen years old, and today I’m here to explain why I didn’t give up.
I used to think that alcohol and nicotine would solve my problems— a buzz for a short while, and then back to reality. I actually used to take Benadryl to force myself asleep when I couldn’t stand to be awake. Unfortunately, these are bound to cause larger problems in the future, and I was able to acknowledge this and stop before it got bad. I have struggled with suicidal thoughts since about seventh grade, and it is likely that I still have not experienced the last of them.
The hardest thing about having thoughts to take my life is fighting the urge to act upon them— especially when, in my situation, I had already written a note and thought of a plan. The last unhealthy coping mechanism I plan to talk about is self-harm. I have intentionally cut myself only twice, and both times resulted in immediate regret and major internal conflict: Why are you like this? What went wrong with you? You’re such a defect. You might as well take the next step.
I don’t wish these thoughts on my worst enemy. No one deserves to think that their life is any “less worth.” I’m not here to persuade my reader to pity me and my sob story, as these unhealthy coping mechanisms are a thing of the past. I’m glad to have emerged as a stronger person.
In that vein, recently, I created a Google Form for my peers on social media, asking them why they choose to push forward each day. I knew that many people (including myself) would not be willing to share such sensitive thoughts with their name attached to it, so I left the form completely anonymous, so that people could say what they wanted without worrying. Below are a couple of my favorite responses. (Participants agreed to have their submissions used anonymously in this article.)
I have such appreciation and respect for those who are able to share these kinds of thoughts with me. I have gotten more responses than what I have selected to put in here, but some of them, I believe, should be kept private. As someone who completely understands what it’s like to struggle, I consider myself a resource for my peers. I may not be professionally trained in psychology and therapy, but I have been available to listen when my closest friends have struggled.
In this article, I was able to share some of the thoughts of my fellow students to let them know that they are not alone. However, I haven’t given myself much time to reflect on my initial question: What keeps me going? The best answer I can give is that I’m not entirely sure. I could give the general answer of how my family loves me (and how my cat brings me more happiness than any human I’ve ever met), but I consider this answer to be self-explanatory and universal.
I would prefer to come back to this question in a number of years and answer it more in-depth so that my reflection is more specific to my situation. I have big hopes for the future, and I live to see them one day. When they do happen and eventually are the reason why I wake up each day, well, I’ll get back to you on that one. In the meantime, my “big dreams” are to present myself to the best of my ability, and that’s really all I can ask of someone.
The Senior Experience in 2021
By Anushka Rajmohan
Along with numerous other events, senior year is in the category of countless normal proceedings and special occasions that have been compromised due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated forced closures. Although the class of 2020 felt the full force of this disappointment last year, the class of 2021 has been having their own unique experiences and difficulties this strange senior year.
As a general rule of thumb, senior year tends to be the most exciting for high schoolers, with various events including the senior trip to Disney, senior prom, and of course, graduation day. On top of that, there is the bittersweetness involved in experiencing certain other events for the last time such as Blue and White Night and dances. Even more, senior year is the final year in high school, a year to spend with friends and enjoy the year after three years of hard work. This senior year, however, has looked different from the prior years.
Starting the year fully virtual, members of the class of 2021 had an unusual first last day of the year. Due to obvious safety reasons, Blue and White Night was cancelled, so all students lost an opportunity that usually encouraged a friendly rivalry between the upperclassman and the underclassman in a night of sports and competition. Instead, this year, Blue and White Night was spent as just another October night in everyone’s own homes.
Ruhani Gill, a current senior experiencing this strange senior year, comments on this:
“I feel like there hasn’t been a lot of balance this year without all the experiences you look forward to as a senior. I knew the first half of the year would be very stressful because of college applications on top of school, but I had thought it would be more balanced with all the fun events we would have been able to experience.”
Ruhani is not alone in these thoughts either. Many seniors were looking forward to these fun events in order to achieve a sort of balance for the last year of their high school experience, and with only school work thus far, it has been a disappointment to say the least.
In addition to this, the fall dance (also known as Homecoming during some years) did not occur either. As a lover of these dances and someone who had attended all of them the past three years, Ruhani found it odd to miss the time in which she and her friends would spend four hours of a weekend night dancing and enjoying themselves.
With the past few months having been very disappointing and strange, the class of 2021 looks ahead to the next few months, their last days of high school ahead of them.
Kajal Sitapara, a friend of Ruhani and a senior, shares this sentiment as she admits that “It really sucked--the fact that the [last] senior class never got a prom is disappointing.”
Although these seniors have missed activities from more than half of their senior year, the biggest hits of senior year--Disney, prom, and graduation--have yet to pass and the seniors are hopeful for these special and exciting senior events.
Kajal explained that even though this past year has been filled with many disappointments and even if she is skeptical about the possibility of certain events occurring, she still has hopes that she will be able to end this year strongly:
“I’m super excited for Disney and graduation. The way things have been going, however, I don’t think we’ll have a senior prom.”
With so variables and uncertainties, it has undoubtedly been difficult for this class to keep their optimism; still, they are trudging along this bumpy road of a senior year:
Ruhani says that more than anything, she is excited to graduate: “I don’t know about my expectations for the trip or prom, but I am definitely looking forward to graduating. I think either way, it’s exciting to move on to the next part of our lives.”
It makes sense why many of these seniors would be so eager to graduate and start the next chapter of their lives. Although it has been a rough journey for many this year, it is heartening to see some of these seniors still have hope for the rest of their year. Hopefully, their strange and disappointing year will be able to end on a high note so that they can move onto the next page of their lives happily.