To the Editor:
Just this past spring, I was a member of Andover’s Class of 2016. In May, however, I left the school. Now I am an 11th grader at San Francisco University High School.
If anyone asks, I tell people I left Andover for a “family issue.” After all, I am part of my family, and I am, in the vernacular, “batshit crazy,” which is an issue. I spent most of ninth and tenth grade paralyzed by depression, anxiety and one eating disorder after another. The one time I set foot into Graham House voluntarily was to express concern over the mental and physical well-being of another student. Never did I even consider talking to a counselor. I would never say it aloud, but I believed that Graham House was for the “crazies.”
Students at my new high school are sometimes curious about Andover. I tell them about the creative and intellectual freedom I had — a distant wish for most high schoolers — and my favorite teachers, the opportunities and resources that Andover gave me. I never mention the way I used to collapse onto my dorm room floor and sob almost every day after my classes. I never mention how many times I curled myself into a pathetic ball in the middle of my rug and went to sleep that way, dreading the morning.
When, last week, I read “Stepping Out of the Shadows,” written by Taryn Gangi ’16, I was shocked, not because of the content, but because of how she was so perfectly able to express how I felt every single day at Andover. Like Gangi, I was sure I would simply suffer forever, my high school experience a string of sleepless nights, “for college”; I would grit my teeth to get a degree, only to face more pain in graduate school or at work; I would simply trudge along through life until I turned to dust. Honestly, I still feel this way.
I wish that I hadn’t had to leave Andover. I wish that I’d gotten help, that I’d “pulled myself together” in time to recover and stay, but I didn’t. Instead, I’m attending what is arguably the best school in San Francisco — but still, it isn’t Andover. There is just one Andover, and it is everything it advertises to prospective students and so much more.
Unfortunately, I was part of “a population of deeply saddened people who feel isolated and alone,” as Gangi put it. Because of mental health issues, we are unable to enjoy the benefits of attending Andover; we simply go through the motions in hollow misery.
All that I can say is that it doesn’t have to be this way. The school provides resources: Graham House, Isham and the proctor/prefect system, among other systems in place to help students help themselves. Students have to step out of the shadows, however, and take the first steps toward recovery.
Editor’s Note: Angela Hui is an 11th grader at San Francisco University High School. She attended Andover from Fall 2012 to Spring 2014