I remember the exact moment that I uttered the words “I’m depressed” for the first time. It was Independence Day, 2004, the summer before my freshman year of high school. I was watching fireworks at a local neighborhood ball park with my family. I was 14 years old, but, you know, the older version of a 14 year old—the kind that wears off-brand clothes, has frizzy hair with a touch of grease, and has no idea how to apply a fresh face of makeup. My parents, who had recently decided to divorce, were fighting ruthlessly with one another and I copped a teenage attitude about their interaction, getting yelled at myself because of it.
Instantly, tears welled up in my eyes as I got up and stormed to the car, my mom following not too far behind. I slammed the door angerly behind me as I climbed into the passenger seat, catching a glimpse of my mom coming towards the driver’s side.
“What is going on with you?” she asked once she was in the car.
Through anger, guilt, shame, and deep sorrow, I screamed, “I am depressed!”
In the field that I landed in, special education, there are billions of stories that come to mind involving compassion for others. But, the first time I really remember my compassion for others shining through happened during my sophomore year of high school. I was never the best at science in school, so starting new science-based classes always made me nervous. Yet, my nerves were immediately subsided when I saw that Andy Vargas was in my biology class.
Asking people to come to an event to share a story with a room full of strangers is a scary thought. It’s vulnerable, it’s uncomfortable, for some it may even be flat out terrifying.
When Arastasia and I thought of the idea for The Expressive Remedy, we considered all of those things, but instead of running away from the idea, we embraced it. Because, in our eyes, the world needs safe spaces where people can come together to be accepted for who they are and the stories they bring with them.