Stepping Out of the Shadows

When I think of Andover, I think of a gray, desolate place in which every day is more miserable than the last. It is a place where the late nights and lack of sleep wither me down to virtually nothing and the overload of work bears me down with a weight so heavy that most days I don’t think I’ll have the strength to lift myself out of bed.

But I do. I drag myself out of bed, shuffle from class to class, pour over homework for hours and collapse into sleep at the end of it all, only to repeat the cycle tomorrow. Day after day, month after month… I have hit rock bottom countless times. And Andover has pushed me to keep on digging.

The misery associated with this routine has led me to question why I put myself through it every single day, and why I haven’t just transferred back to my hometown’s public school, where I can imagine I would be much happier. Is it all just for the purpose of getting into an elite college, so that I can do the same thing for another four years, and then get a job and do it all over again for the rest of my life? But leaving would be throwing away opportunity, even though being at Andover has pushed me down into a deep-rooted depression — one that has led me to question not only my life at Andover, but my life as a whole. It has pitted me against the darkest of thoughts and considerations, and has brought me to dangerous brushes with various methods of self-destruction. It has gradually numbed me to the point where every day has become a blur of misery and pointlessness, and to the point where I am picturing the rest of my life as a similar ordeal.

This suffering is not exclusively attached to me, though, as I have talked to countless others who have disclosed to me similar feelings. We have all been too afraid, however, to speak out about our issues, which have led to the creation of a population of deeply saddened people who feel isolated and alone.

Speaking out is the first step to finding a solution. We first need to openly address these issues if we ever wish to solve them. We need to begin associating people with the problem, thus rendering the issue real and unavoidable.

I would like to disclose that my life outside of Andover is fine. My parents are happily married, my dog is still alive, nobody close to me has recently died, I get good grades, I am a varsity athlete and so on. And so I conclude that this hollow depression that I have fallen into was triggered by being at Andover.

I initially planned on writing this article anonymously, until I realized that in doing so I would just add to the abstract nature that currently surrounds the issue. Too many of us who have dealt with mental health at Andover have, for so long now, hidden in the shadows. If we go on like this, however, nothing will be accomplished. This problem needs to be brought into light by the people who have experienced it firsthand, or else our community will forever go on as it has.

So, I am stepping out of the shadows. I want to illustrate to the people of this community that there are real people suffering with real mental health issues — whether it’s the girl on your hall, the boy who sits across from you in English or me. I want to give a name and a face to these issues so that we, as a community, will no longer have the option to go on pretending as though they are not real.