Some very good clients of mine brought in their daughter for her HS senior portraits this past year. As with all Seniors we look to tell their story though photography & the images I create for them. “Jane’s” (not her name) story was one of the most touching & emotional I have done in a long time.
When she was 4 years old she was diagnosed with severe autism, ranking 10 on the chart of 1 to 10. With special schooling K through 5 was not bad, minimal bulling, but with friends, family & good teachers it all worked out. Middle school however was a living hell. Middle school is always tough for most kids, but with Jane it was bad. As she describes it “Middle school was one of the worse holes I was in. Getting verbally abused by some of my teachers & continually felling bullied just added to the situation of starting a new school. Not having proper coping skills until my late teens didn’t help either.” High School is where the real darkness set in, Jane explains, “I went through a lot during high school; Including being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Conversion Disorder. I made mistakes just like any other high schooler did, but drama with friends and bullying called back my anxiety for the worst. When I started my Junior year, the first week to be exact, I had anxiety attacks all the time and people found me on the floor having a conversion 3 different times. A conversion looks like a seizure, it’s when my brain and body is just so overwhelmed by anxiety and emotion that I just thrash around and shake. It was my only outlet for my anxiety.”
“My anxiety causes my body to fidget and hit things, and when my anxiety got too high a conversion happens, and that’s was the only way to get it all out at the time. I got kicked out of school because of this, and I was put into home school from September 2016-January 2017. Things only got worse during that period, and the only comfort at the time was food and prescription drugs. No proper coping skills led me to 180lbs-235lbs in less than 3 months, plus taking multiples of drugs during the day. And of course, that added to the bag of things I was going through. I went back to my old high school in February of 2017, things were still rough, but I did my best.”
In talking to Jane’s Mom, she told me of the Drs. they had seen, still with no solid answers. She was fearful Jane would have to be institutionalized. It was during this, the darkest moments when Jane says, “her mom got after me, helping realize what I was doing to myself.”
Jane continued “I didn’t do a lot of praying because I just gave up on myself and on hope, plus I was in a deep depression. When we were at our last resort I started to pray and say that I’m leaving it in His hands. It did give me some strength because I knew that He didn’t want me to suffer like this anymore. So, I knew that He was working on it. I was at the point that I wanted to end it all because I wanted to be fixed once I went to Heaven.”
It was just after this is when mom found a vitamin & dietary regimen that would help Jane with her disorders. Soon after starting this regimen, Jane began to feel a difference in herself. She explains, “I lost nearly 70 pounds. I went from 235-166. Including the weight loss, my senior year was the least anxious out of the other 3 years. Coming into the light after so much time in darkness made me realize how blessed I am and it gave me hope that no matter what challenge comes my way I can face it head on and never face it alone.”
During this same time Jane related she was given a Patriarchal blessing in which she describes “Heavenly
Father is mindful and aware of me in every way. And that He will bless me with a Family. He loves me and will provide a way for me and help me overcome my challenges. I needed to put my trust in Him. He will bless me with courage to overcome doubt. I will be able to overcome those times of challenge. This blessing gave me strength to push forward, to the light of our Savior, who suffered all things, so He might be with me. Without the church or Him I don’t know where I would be right now.”
Jane concluded with this, “I lost nearly 70 pounds. I went from 235-166. Including the weight loss, my senior year was the least anxious out of the other 3 years. Coming into the light after so much time in darkness made me realize how blessed I am and it gave me hope that no matter what challenge comes my way I can face it head on and never face it alone. So here I am now. Just graduated with straight A’s with honors and plan on to become a NICU Nurse, if not then a Nurse, and give my life to helping others and begin my new journey.”
(Disclaimer) I have known many who have and are still suffering with some of these disorders, especially depression. What works for one may or may not work for another.
I have seen good friends; clients & family members commit suicide due to sever depression. It is a dark place & extremely hard to come out of. Thankfully I have family members, friends who have found the right things to take to help the cope & get through the day like most of us, not perfect but the best we can.
I could not help but feel a sample of the dark emotions she felt while working on this art piece they wanted. Where it shows the darkness trying to hang on to her as she began turning to the His light & love He has for her.
There is darkness everywhere, if we focus on the Light within us & others that darkness will leave. For darkness cannot exist in the Light, especially His Light. Depression is an ugly disease, especially in the youth of the world. If you know or see someone being bullied or who might be depressed, help them, love them, pray for them