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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Patiño

“Finding Help...The Day I got My Smile Back.” A Young Man’s Story about Depression

The day I gained my smile back. It started like any typical day; I was sitting in my therapist’s office getting comfortable on the light brown couch facing the shelf of books and bold encouraging words, and in front of that is the chair Ms. Natasha sits in.

“Hey, something seems different about you today, did you cut your hair?” She asks.

“No, I didn’t,” I replied.

She snapped her fingers. “Ah! I know what’s different today. You are smiling and your body language is relaxed and calm.”

“You’re right, I guess today I just had a really good day of relaxation and thoughts of appreciation.”

As the sun shone into the room, my thoughts and my smile were sprouting like the flowers outside, and this is where my story begins……

A couple years ago, almost the beginning of my middle school years was the beginning of a steady decline in myself and the way I was thinking and expressing myself. As I remember, all my facial expressions and actions seemed fake and made up on the spot. Nothing felt real at that point, and I knew something was wrong throughout my first year in middle school. Like any other person I brushed it off and continued through the school year with that feeling deep down but I ignored it, which was a terrible mistake that cost me a couple years of my life.

As my middle school years progressed, my mental health dropped to a very low point. I was not doing well in school, I was not taking anything seriously, and I was speaking less. My struggles were very noticeable to everyone, specifically my parents, who insisted that I needed help, but as any dumb middle schooler, I declined and went on with my day while getting ready for the next. Some of those moments were left in memories I wish not to remember, but as I graduated middle school, I thought everything was going to get left in the past, and I was going to have a fresh start.

Apparently, I was wrong. I could have never thought that it could get worse, and I wouldn’t be writing this if it went well. Either way, I was starting my first year of high school, at a new school, and I had new classes, which I was excited and nervous about. Throughout the beginning of the year it was going fine but I felt something creeping up on me, but I couldn’t figure what it was until March came around and the news about COVID was spreading.

When the pandemic really started it sent everyone home, and I was excited at first because I didn’t have to deal with teachers or other people and classes became easier since it was the first year virtual, and there wasn’t a lot of work. As my ninth-grade year was finishing, the issues had bounced back and hit me twice as hard, which made me get lost mentally. Throughout my sophomore year it was the same thing every day, feeling anger, sadness and no hope left for me over and over again. I wasn’t doing good in my classes, and it was also affecting me socially as well. Until one day I sat down and started to think thoroughly and let my stubbornness go, which allowed me to find Ms. Natasha. I took responsibility and allowed myself to get help, which I would have never thought of at that time. I finally was able to meet and speak to her at the start of my junior year due to COVID and a really busy schedule, but it was worth the wait.

When it finally came the time to meet her, I was worried if the images on google maps were lying about the place or it was the wrong address but, no it actually was which surprised me. The building looked old, but when you walked in, it looked modern but not too much. It looked really small from the outside but not on the inside, it was honestly not what I imagined. Looking down the hallway brought my anxiety to its peak, which caused me to start shaking but when I saw the door open and Ms. Natasha walked out of it, my heart dropped, and I wanted to run back outside. Although I wanted to run away, I needed to calm down because help is what I needed, and I wasn’t going to let six years of my life turn into 7 wasted because of my mental health. So, I shook it off and walked in with her.

As I walked in, I felt my stubbornness come back and say, “You don’t need this, you're fine, everything will be fine. You just need to give it more time.” Which I kept arguing with myself saying time is what I don’t have and already have wasted a lot of. As we sat down, I picked the couch facing the wall where the bookshelf was and to my left is another couch under the window and to my right is another seat but also a fireplace and some paintings. The first impression I had of this was it was cozy, not exaggerated with a lot of small things in it and not too boring with also nothing in it. I thought it was perfect the way it was. It also had a really good smell to it and the room was very clean. Anyway, as she sat down, she looked at me and said:

“Hey, my Name is Natasha, nice to meet you.”

“My-y-y name is D-D-Diego, nice to meet you too.”

I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. My voice was too shaky, and I wanted to leave because I was embarrassed after that and I spoke with a very low tone, barely understandable but she managed to hear me.

Throughout my time working with her I managed to learn a lot of things to keep from being “in a shell” like Ms. Natasha described it and she has helped me a lot especially through something I refused to believe, which was depression. I always thought I had something similar but always denied it due to my stubbornness, which was the cause of many other problems I had. Anyway, back to the present, the way I would describe her help after talking with her for a while would have to be that she helped me through an incident that happened at bonds (career center) which would have scared me but, she was there and another time which happened not too long ago would be the death of my aunt. She was like a second mother to me. There is still a hole in my heart but slowly Ms. Natasha has helped me fill that hole even though nothing may replace it. I will always continue to remember my aunt.

The way I would describe Ms. Natasha would have to be she is very kind woman with lots of knowledge like a dictionary, she has words I didn’t even know existed, she has really nice long light brown hair with a contagious smile that would make you smile even if your were miles away just by looking at her. She has a very similar background to mine from where her parents are from and how the situation, she grew up in. She dresses very nicely and has open ears to any situation with a voice that tells many truths. She has helped me through my junior year of high school and many thanks couldn’t even add up to how she really saved my life and how progressively turned things around and made my mental health better.

Writing this made me realize that there are many people out there who really need help but are not willing to take a step forward and open their ears and mind to help. It really creates the word ‘help’ into a person that people like me look for but never even notice it’s right in front of us the entire time. I think people should seek help instead of waiting for it because in reality no one knows how you are feeling other than you, and no one will help you unless you want it and I have learned that the hard way. That is my story on how the interactions with Ms. Natasha really saved my life before I did something stupid and I close this story by having a feeling of relief, and I can finally close a dark chapter in my life.

17-year-old Hispanic Male’s Story about Depression. This was a writing assignment he had for school, that he chose to talk about his experience with therapy.

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