Be Kind, My Kittens!

In the winter of my sophomore year of high school, I spent two weeks in a mental hospital for severe depression. It felt more like juvenile detention than help for an illness; the staff often treated us like we were bad, bad people who were there to be punished. It wasn’t a good experience, but neither was school at the time, so I didn’t mind being away.

When I returned, I was mostly met with awkward silence and avoidance by both peers and teachers. Nobody knew what to say to me, I guess, or they were afraid my mental illness was contagious, and they wanted to stay far away. I don’t know.

So, I was that weird kid with no friends, who always sat alone, who dreaded every single day – a loner to be avoided by everyone. Almost everyone. The day I came back, my German teacher – a very strict German lady who everyone complained about (and who I had also given my fair share of trouble) – gave me a hug; a soft, pink teddy bear; and the offer to always listen if I needed someone to talk to.

This is how mental health issues should be handled. We need more of this in the world. Please be kind to others, kittens. You don’t always know what someone’s going through, and for all you know, a small act of kindness will make the world worth living in for someone who’s ready to give up.

Vielen lieben Dank, Frau Carty – ich hab so viel von dir gelernt, und ich werde deine Freundlichkeit nie vergessen.