One of the greatest things about my work as a youth motivational speaker is that I get to plant seeds, give hope and inspire young people.
One of the most challenging things is that sometimes I get to help, but I might not know the end result of the work I do.
Thankfully, I know the end result when it comes to my friend Isabella, whom I had the chance to talk to a year after I met her. She is now 18 and has granted me permission to make the VIDEO included with this post.
Last year when I met with her at her school, we made a decision together – and Isabella did the work. What broke my heart then was that we had to put her into an ambulance alone for a ride to a hospital more than an hour away.
But when I recently returned to the school community, I couldn’t wait to hear about how she is doing now – and I want to share that progress with you. I’m a fan.
The following is an edited transcript of the above VIDEO:
YALDEN: How are you doing, Isabella? It was a hard day a year ago…
ISABELLA: It actually was, but what was really hard was accepting that I did need the help. I went on this hurtful journey of depression and PTSD – feeling like my auntie’s death was my fault. I believed it was my fault. I believed that my mom’s sadness was my fault – and that caused me to go into a deep, deep depression.
I felt like I was locked. This little girl inside me wanted to get help, but we were afraid. Jeff Yalden came to our school and was talking about mental health and how to help people – and he was the key to that lock.
I came and talked to him. I told him about what I was going through, and he told me what we were going to do. At first, I was afraid. It wasn’t an exciting journey, but I needed to do it. I needed to get the help I needed. Yes, it was sad that I was going to be leaving my school and going into this hospital – but I was happy to get the help I needed.
I want to thank Jeff because, even though he said I did the work – nobody would have said I needed to go and get help. It was that encouragement…
YALDEN: Thank you. I couldn’t be any more grateful, appreciative or inspired – but ultimately, I never want to send someone to the hospital without them having ownership. If you don’t have ownership, you are not going to take it seriously – you are not going to be honest.
What made you that day want to listen to say, “I need help…”? What made you think you were ready?
ISABELLA: Seeing my friends cry, honestly. I have one friend who he watched me through this depression. He had seen me cry and have breakdowns. I didn’t want to see him cry, nor did I want to see my mom cry.
I wore a mask around here. I faked happy and pretended everything was OK – but behind closed doors, I let out all of my feelings. I felt like my life was worthless, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone anymore. And so, that’s what gave me the ownership to say, “Jeff – I need the help…can you please help me,” and you did.
I came back a year later. I did miss some school, but I got back, and I went to summer school – and now I am graduating with 30 credits. I never really thought that I would be here – here right now in this school. I didn’t think I would live to see this day because of my depression. All I can tell you guys is – TALK!
I know it’s scary to talk to a trusted adult – but honestly, it helps a lot.
YALDEN – When you open up, you actually feel like there is less anxiety and you feel better, right? And you did the work despite the fear of the unknown. You pushed through and here you are on the other side.
Can you give kids – 17 and 18 – permission that it’s OK to talk? If you have pain in your heart, what you don’t speak out, you end up acting out. And we can’t help if we don’t know.
ISABELLA: I give permission to 17, 18 and sometimes younger than that – because it’s not just teenagers. It’s middle-schoolers and surprisingly, elementary school kids – because they ARE bullied, and words hurt. And this is pretty off-topic, but don’t bully. You really don’t know what a person is going through. They could be fighting depression. They could be fighting something else. Just don’t add onto it.
Why be mean when we are all put on this earth to be kind? I don’t like to be mean. I really don’t – and to any kids who are fighting depression and feeling like they are alone – listening to that voice in their heads – you are stronger. Jeff made me see that I am stronger. That voice in my head was just a voice.
I have great friends. I have an amazing mom. And I have amazing teachers – so if anyone out there is struggling and feels like they are alone – talk to a trusted adult. Talk to a teacher. Even talk to your counselor, because you need to take that first step toward getting the help you need.
Trust me – the dark side? You’ll get out of it, and you will come to the bright side. It’s so beautiful here.
YALDEN: you have to be willing to lose your ego and open your heart. It is hard – but it’s part of growing and not being afraid to talk and ask for help.
My friends, I was so inspired to come back to this community. I want to protect her identity – but when she came up to me after the assembly this morning, I just lit up
There is a great outcome on the other side. You just have got to be willing to do the work.
Teen Mental Health Speaker: Jeff Yalden
Jeff Yalden is highly regarded as one of the top mental health experts in the world primarily focused on education and school communities working with teens, school administration, counselors, teachers, staff, parents and community leaders.
He’s a four-time best-selling author including his latest book, TEEN SUICIDE: The WHY Behind Today’s Suicide Epidemic.
His Podcast: Mental Health and Motivation continues to attract thousands of new subscribers every month for his direct talk and influence on today’s mental health conversations for teens and adults.
You can learn more about Jeff Yalden by visiting his website – www.JeffYalden.com. You can also learn more about Jeff’s Suicide Prevention Online Course for School Communities and Parents, Jeff Yalden University, and follow Jeff on YouTube and Social Media by clicking on the links below:
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