Letters of Youth


/ 13 October 2021

“She’s no longer here with us.”

It was one of the most devastating words that she had ever heard in a sixty seconds phone call. She couldn’t believe it. Who could possibly be ready to receive a message, that the person whom she was talking to a few days ago is no longer alive? At first, she couldn’t understand it. To a young, naive, and innocent girl, the world can’t be like that. It can’t be cruel enough to the point that it closes all the light of hope. It can’t be way too harsh to take over your mindset that you are not valued and loved.

To a little girl, the world is not like that. Yet, it turns out that she had her eyes open but they were actually shut. It wasn’t able to see the reality. It wasn’t able to see the struggles. It wasn’t able to understand the deep importance of someone’s stability in their mental health. To her, it was a shallow topic. But, she can’t take the blame too. She grew up in a society that taught her the wrong sentiments. In her upbringing, she was taught about the meaning of depression, anxiety, and various mental health illnesses. However, she wasn’t told that someone around her could be experiencing it. She wasn’t educated about the roots of it and how to overcome it, nor help someone conquer it. What was she supposed to do? She knew, but somehow, she didn’t either.

A few years after that happened, she continued to live her life with regret and guilt. Every single day, she asked herself with every sentence starting with a “what if?”, “why?”, or “how?”. As if her deep thoughts could bring her back to life. As if everything isn’t wishful thinking. Was her death her fault? No, it wasn’t. She was always there for her, but she wishes she could’ve done better. If only she was older and more courageous, she could’ve done something to save her.

This month of October, we celebrate National Mental Illness Awareness Week. It starts on the 3rd day of the month and ends on the 9th day. The event was first established in the year 1990 with the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), accompanied by their goal of educating the people about this topic and fostering a safe space.

During this time, we take this opportunity to plant a seed of sensitivity towards the feelings of others and understand that each of us is going through something in our lives. We must bear in mind that it is in our actions today which could help determine whether someone lives or not. So choose wisely and be kind to every single person you meet every single day. You never know if they’re on the verge of letting go, but because of you, they saw that humanity has goodness too.

Personally, it is a relief that mental health has been taken into account in this modern time. Finally, after a long fight, a lot of people have started to share their stories and make others understand that it is true, it needs to be addressed, it needs to be prioritized. Most especially today where we experience a crisis and everyone is encouraged to stay at home for their safety, we tend to get more alone time. Alone time could be good for a bit, but when it gets longer, it gets tough too. We think about life, what we’ve been doing, our regrets, our worth, and so on. We tend to overthink and unfortunately, our mind does not stop that. It can only be stopped when we choose to.

Thus, as easy as it may sound, dealing with it is difficult. However, it is also in our choices that could determine if we choose to fight or not. As people, we need people too, and it is only we who can look out for each other.

Everyday, I try to look back on that little girl’s story. In the future, I wouldn’t want my child or anyone’s child to experience a loss and feel the walls of guilt that society built unconsciously. On the other side of the story, a person who decides to let go is not at fault here either. They were suffering and no one deserves that. We cannot change the past, but we can create change in the present. Let our experiences serve as a lesson that we can be a voice for those who cannot. It may not be our responsibility, but spreading kindness wouldn’t hurt humanity. In fact, it could strengthen it and grow the seed that was once planted. A seed of hope.

You are not alone. We are in this together. We’ll keep going. Together.