Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

He grows, I grow

Sitting in a coffee shop, I'm trying to convince him to wear a suit and tie when meeting prospective employers. The conversation reminds me of my own naivete at age eighteen. He says, "I think I'll ask the other kids what they did when they went looking for jobs." After reminding him that his friends are his age while I am hiring-manager age, I let it go with a smile. Oh to be eighteen again...

He's eighteen going on sixteen, which is an improvement. When I met him, he was sixteen going on twelve. A high school senior, and the product of a really sad alcoholic family, I've been mentoring him for just over two years. Since I have no kids, this relationship has given me opportunities I never thought I'd get. Teaching a teen to drive, for example, was an opportunity I won't soon forget.

He reminds me of myself at eighteen because, like him, I had no clue how to function in the world. I find myself trying to teach him everything I wish I had known, things I learned through embarrassment and shame. Saying 'please' and 'thank you' was an early lesson. Taking responsibility for one's actions was frequently revisited. Shaking hands, holding a door open so it doesn't slam in someone's face, and offering a guest something to drink have all been addressed. He's learned, and I've watched him grow.

He's grown, and therefore I've grown. He's learned, and therefore I've learned. I am so grateful to be a part of his life, as he enriches mine. I'm sure he'd be surprised to learn I'm getting just as much, if not more, out of this relationship as he is.

Two years ago I had no idea this relationship would develop. I wasn't searching for a teen to mentor. I wasn't feeling empty or alone without a teen in my life. Things happened, and we came together. Perhaps a higher power knew what was best for both of us. I certainly didn't have anything to do with it, but I'm so glad I took the ball and ran. After all, prom's coming up...

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