KCETLink Youth Voices is working with students from Arroyo High School to explore El Monte/South El Monte and the surrounding communities. The students have formed teams to explore and investigate their communities, map assets, collect and share stories, data and community input for their projects. All the while they are learning and expanding their knowledge of digital media and civic engagement. Follow Love is Respect El Monte on Twitter @loveisrespectem or the social media hashtags #LoveIsRespectEM and #KCETYV.
My name is Justine -- I'm a typical tenth grader. I play softball, I'm in marching band, and like most teens I enjoy hanging out with friends. However, underneath my bubbly personality, you probably wouldn't guess I struggle with depression and I'm currently in therapy. At first glance you probably wouldn't guess my arms bare the scars of dark memories. For a long time, I lived in an emotionally unhealthy place where I was too scared and ashamed to admit I needed help. However, with a little push from my family and friends, I was able to take the steps to look within myself and realize I needed professional help.
I attended my first counseling session a little bit after my twelfth birthday. I remembered I had just started the eighth grade and I had recently relocated to the City of El Monte. I'm fifteen now and a high school sophomore, and I still attend counseling. When I began counseling I struggled with my parents divorce; losing my best friend to asthma; and coming out of an abusive relationship. Dealing with all of this at a young age caused me to slip into a deep depression that lead to being hospitalized twice because my depression caused me to inflict self harm.
Over the years, counseling has given me the tools to learn who I am and discover the person I can become. Unfortunately, the road to recovery has been full of highs and lows where each time I've questioned, if it was going to get better? Like most who walk down this path to recovery their comes a point where we realize the road to recovery is tough, difficult, and painful. And if you're lucky after lots of hard work there comes a time when looking in the mirror the reflection looking back at you is of a person who believes "you're worth it."
If you're thinking of therapy or counseling, I recommend you find a reason worthy of seeing your life in a better state; and you ask for help even if it's scary. Because the end result is much better than how you currently feel. But there's a catch -- in order to benefit from therapy you have to want it for yourself. For many of us, there comes a time where you realize you can't do it alone making it hard for many to find recovery. The truth is nobody should feel hopeless; or inflict injuries to themselves; or believe that happiness is not attainable. Most importantly, know that living with a mental illness; or needing time in a hospital to recover; or needing help from a mental health professional is nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, it's more of a reason to be proud of yourself, because realizing you need help is half the battle won. Finding a support system like family or friends can help give you the strength you need to obtain happiness and have a chance to get better.
Youth Friendly Mental Health Resource:
Enki Youth and Family Services
3208 Rosemead Blvd, Ste 100, El Monte, CA 91731
(Between Whitmore St and Flair Dr/Telstar Ave.)
To make an appointment please call: (626) 227-7001.