D. Essay Section - Toronto Police Service.

Catarina Alfredo Essay "Am I a bad person? Am I enough?". I felt like I did everything I could to please everyone around me, but then the same thoughts of me being a bad person would return to the back of my head. There were multiple days where I found myself angry at everyone and at myself, but at the end of the day, I always kept a smile on my face to hide the hurt. Having my feelings kept inside made me feel like I couldn't speak to anyone about my emotions, without feeling like I'm the failure and I'm doing wrong. During 11th grade, things started going horrible for me. My mom got sick, and she was going through depression, and it was really hard for me to see her in that condition. Just in one year, she was hospitalized more than 5 times. There became a point where I wasn't eating, and I started feeling like there was no point in life. My mental health had declined and it was affecting my daily life, my relationships, and school. I was losing weight, which was something that never happened to me. I felt like I wasn't in the right state of mind. When my mother noticed these changes, she wasn't happy with me and I didn't want her to think of me in a different way. Mental health wasn't something that was often brought up in my house; the attitude my family has was "it is what it is" and you roll with the punches. Growing up in an African household as a young Black girl, school was a #1 priority-nothing else. Ever since I was young, my family would always track my grades; I was only rewarded based on how my performance was at school and that seemed to always be the main topic of conversation. Being set with these high standards in addition to my depression affected my school, especially throughout my junior year. When I tried to express myself to close ones, they never seemed to understand what was going on with me. It was always me- I was the "problem". I was the one blamed for how I felt. It made me
Catarina Alfredo think that nobody cared about how I was feeling when I did my best to make sure that everyone else was well. So, I decided to write. I wanted to express myself and didn't want to talk to anybody. I was cleaning my room one day when I found my elementary school diary. I began looking through the pages and reread all of my old memories, feelings, and events that I had written there. I flipped to the last page and grabbed a pen. I started writing about my past events, which turned into explaining recent events and then writing about my feelings. Thirty minutes later, I had written 2 pages filled with my emotions. It felt amazing. Journaling made me realize that there are other outlets to express myself. Journaling was perfect for me: no judging, no criticism; it was just me and my thoughts. I realized that I was done being in my head and wanted positive energy with a clean slate. It has helped me reduce my anxiety. It was a break from non-stop thinking, and it helped me regulate my emotions. I could see myself in a happier state, I felt free and rejuvenated. I started to think about how other teenagers dealt with situations similar to mine. In addition to that, I also knew that I needed to start thinking about what I wanted to pursue in the future, a psychology degree. I hope to one day become a mental health therapist and become the person who can be there for teenagers to express themselves without them being judged or being ridiculed. I want teenagers to have someone that I never had at their age and for them to feel safe, and strong in their own bodies, and to live the life that they please.
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