In that particular season of my life, I faced grief due to loss- loss of significant relationships and friendships, and even my job. And because my identity- who I thought I was- had been built of those very things I no longer had, I also faced grief over the subsequent loss of said identity.
That particular loss ushered me into a new chapter of my life I had not anticipated: my battle with depression. In retrospect, I was very fortunate for my clinical background because I had been able to detect the signs of depression early into my experience- the hit to my self-esteem and sense of worthiness, the feelings of loneliness and emotional isolation, even the physical signs such as tearfulness, low energy, and restlessness. And although my early detection had been extremely beneficial, it still didn’t make the battle any easier, especially after life continued to happen. I began to re-experience cycles of grief following the death of several family members.
If we were sick with the flu, we would seek medical attention. If we had a broken leg, we would get immediately get help. For some reason, this didn’t connect with the mental health component…
If someone passed away, we would send flowers, food, and our condolences. We would proudly show our solidarity with those who battled cancer or those who had survived. For some reason, that support hasn’t been as readily available to those who battled with mental health stressors. The reason? Stigma- that misperception that says mental health is a weak person’s issue and a result of deliberate laziness- has unfortunately stifled the voices of those needing help.
Suicide is 100% preventable because the symptoms are treatable. We must get over this stigma, this misperception, this mislabel of mental health because we no longer have the luxury to remain silent or passive.
When it comes to being mentally healthy, what some may think is solely of their own doing should consider the fact that their wellness is also in conjunction with God’s grace covering you. Again, no one is immune to the impact of mental health.
This story narrates both sisters’ journeys and shows not only the benefits of seeking help, but also the potential risks of not speaking up.
So many times, we use severe or extreme displays of mental health struggles as references to what mental health looks like for everyone. That misperception is what makes education on mental health so critical.
My desire is that our educational systems incorporate Mirroring Effect into their high school reading curriculums because it addresses so many things our teenagers face on a daily basis, such as self-esteem and identity, mean girls, and friendships, while still tackling harder subjects such as intimacy, underage drinking…and yes, mental health.
Inside Look Into Mirroring Effect
For DESIREE “DESI” VANDER, the only events marking an overrated adolescence were completing art projects and accepting defeat in the battle with her unruly hair. Desi soon discovers the harsh reality of life after her sister commits suicide. Her sister, DEMETRIA“DEMI” VANDER, had the glamorous life- she dated the school jock and hung with the most popular people at school. Popular girls didn’t commit suicide, right? So what happened to Demi?
Following her sister’s funeral, Desi decides to go right back to school, but has a “small” melt down prompting her parents to plug her into counseling with a psychologist. DR. NEIL, or “NEIL” as Desi calls her, is a “book-hoarding, cat-loving, crochet-stitching, oldies-but-goodies listening kind of gal” based on Desi’s quick assessment. Although Neil attempts to guide Desi through the Stages of Grief, Desi decides she wants answers instead of closure.
Coming across Demi’s old journals that reveal she wasn’t as happy as she had appeared, Desi begrudgingly mingles with Demi’s best friends, “THE CLIQUE,” a group comprised of the most superficial, albeit popular, students Demi idolized.
First there’s LEIGHLYN, who is pretty, but in a 90210 way. There’s also CHRYSTAL who gives new meaning to frenemy, and BRANDON who is kind of dense, but has the most alluring smile Desi has ever seen. Desi even has to face her sister’s boyfriend, CALEB, another member of “The Clique” and EMMA, Demi’s best friend who is also processing through her own grief.
As she grows closer to Demi’s friends, Desi begins to distance herself from her best friend, APRIL. And even though RYAN, a moody and judgmental peer in her art class, points out Desi’s clear shift, she chooses to ignore him too.
In the process of finding the truth about her sister, Desi loses herself. And when upsets continue to surface, Desi fears she is too vulnerable to heal, and like her sister, too broken to repair.
Desi realizes that in order to be strong she must embrace her weaknesses, and to gain acceptance she must embrace the limits of her own control. These things prepare Desi for her most important task- finding beauty in life following her sister’s death.
You can purchase the book on Amazon in paperback for $16.99 or Kindle for free
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