Most days now when I wake up I have a panicky feeling in my chest and racing thoughts in my mind. I don’t always write, but I know that I need to express all of these overwhelming thoughts and feelings. I never know what is going to come out, but it is images of my family running through my mind almost all the time. We are all impacted by stress in our collective lives. That’s just how families work. We absorb all of it.
Something that is a constant in our home right now is depression. I am beginning to understand that this one word generates strong feelings and images based on one’s own personal experiences with it. I’ve found that there are people who don’t understand it at all. I also know that sometimes when people don’t understand something they are afraid of it. This makes people scared to name depression in their own lives, but I find it hard to believe that I know anyone who has not been touched by it. Maybe that’s just me though. I always try to stand firmly in reality.
Whatever name people put on the symptoms they are experiencing in their bodies, I believe it really does often come down to depression. From my perspective, it can look like a lot of different things because we are all just wired differently. But we are all human so we are the same. Depression is a slog.
Mackenzie is one of my 16 year old twins. She is deaf and she has been deeply wounded. She is also very resilient. She doesn’t talk much with people outside of our house, so most people can’t really know her and few people may realize the extraordinary human being they see before them. But I do. She is a warrior. And she is a leader in every sense of the word.
Mackenzie is in the thick of it right now. There are things that are affecting her over which she has no control. No doubt this is an important life lesson. We all have things we cannot control. Personally, I try to live by the serenity prayer and I sense that she does, too. But she is in an incredibly tough position right now. The thing she doesn’t have control over is her education and that is a place where she excels. At least she did before last year.
Because she is deaf she cannot go to school without an interpreter to provide her with access to communication. She is now a junior in high school and in her second year without access. When she is in school, it has become a warzone for Mackenzie. That’s how I know she is a warrior. She has fought, but it is not without deep wounding that comes with battle. She is also battling depression.
Mackenzie is keenly aware that she must keep pushing through. I am in awe of her resilience.
This morning as I opened up my google docs to begin writing, I came across a speech that Mackenzie wrote last year for a communication competition. As it turned out, she never gave this speech, but I think what she wrote speaks to the core of her resilience. Her speech was about optimism. I think she will not mind if I publish it here.
Mackenzie wrote these words at a time when she was going to school advocating for herself every single day and not understanding a anything that was going on because she had no access to communication at all. She asked me the other day if I could imagine what it was like to not understand anything that is going on around you all the time. She describes the feelings of isolation. I can imagine, but I do not know. All I know is that it hurts her deeply and it hurts me deeply, as well. I am grateful that Mackenzie is resilient. I pray that we are all as resilient.
“Where does my optimism come from?” by Mackenzie Tucker
So, the actual question is, where do I get my optimism from? Where is it from? Where is it “created”? Well, I do personally believe that optimism or determination (which is also partly the term of being optimistic) is from a life lesson or another. From a past experience or another. According to “past experience,” I have a story to share with you guys, since you’re all here with me. When I was younger, a lot younger, it started in elementary school. I was bullied, teased and manipulated so bad. People just call me names, like dumb, useless, stupid, retarded, clueless, idiot, pea-brain, confused… And every time that happens, I would come home Know why? –Because I can’t hear. Because I don’t sometimes understand information very clearly, and my brain mix things up and it was so frustrating. Because people just don’t understand, since I was so different and described by many people as “abnormal” or “weird” or “strange,” or something absurd and silly like that. This past memory of mine made me want to become stronger and more self-aware, and to make a difference, since I am different. And I think you all should, too. Everyone can be different, but they’re still the same. And I feel like everyone should show people that we are just the same, like them.
When I had this feeling of being different, I was only two years and nine months old. It was at the time of when I lost my hearing. I feel like I’m not being understood and left out, because all of my family members are hearing, and I’m the only deaf person in the family. There are also a lot of hearing people in the world, and that is part of the reason of why I feel different.
The feeling of being different can make me feel isolated, because for years, being different can make me have a really hard time to fit into society and the world. It made me feel bad when hearing people just treat me like I’m different, like I seem to them as a pushover. Or a doormat.
There are a lot of hearing people who have bullied, manipulated and harassed me a lot all over the years. And it have caused me to feel low and low, every time they do that. They don’t do that, but since I’ve started high school, there was a lot of insecurity and drama in school. It got me very depressed and anxious. It made me so afraid every time I go to that school, enter the door, go into my homeroom period, sit down and be with all of the hearing people that I’m with. And that made me nervous.
What made me feel good, is when a person understands me for who I am. Like my mother. My mother is the only person, in most of my life, who understands me. She knows how to communicate with me. My brothers don’t. My step-dad didn’t, really. And we got into a lot of fights,because of that. They’re still learning, though.
I feel like my greatest purpose of my life, is to make a great difference. To share all of what I have. To share my story. To be bold and fast, rather than suffering in silence. And I promised myself to do it, starting at sixteen years old. I want to do all of the things that I’ve been wanting to do all my entire life. My interests and passions. My story. Everything. And I’m going to do it.
My optimism comes from my life. Thank you for listening to what I am trying to say.