My name is Allison. I’m 17 and in my last year of high school.  Growing up in Collier County, I was a happy child. I always tried to see the positive side. I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer.

But during my childhood, I went through a lot. I was bullied – at school and by a family member. Since I called everyone at school my ‘friend,’ and I would say I was ‘just having problems with my friend,’ no one took my school problems seriously.

People I felt I could trust were part of the bullying, the abuse.

When I was 10, I was raped. I tried to tell people in my family. But I was afraid they would use it as a threat. I was afraid they’d say, ‘If you misbehave, we’ll send you back to that person’s house.’ Mom worked a lot and I was constantly at the babysitter’s house.

I never had a person I could look up to. Me and my younger sisters raised ourselves.

So I kept the rape inside me. I became hateful, angry. I no longer really cared about the positive side. Everything was negative. Mom and I had huge arguments. Once she was yelling at me in Spanish, ‘You have problems. You act like you were abused.’ So I let out about the rape to mom. She got quiet. But she gave me no comfort.

In middle school, it was the same thing. I was always angry. I was getting bullied.
I was cutting myself a lot and always wore a jacket to hide my injuries. If the jacket sleeve got pushed up, I said I was scratched by my pet cat.

In high school, I started making new friends with different perspectives on life. I tried to stay positive, but mentally, I was still very negative, even though with my new friends I tried to put on a positive face. But when I opened up to my friends, they didn’t want to hear about the sad things that happened in my life, why I’m angry, why I have problems. So I started distancing myself.  I was very alone. My grades got lower.

I tried to kill myself many times by drinking Clorox, cutting and hanging. The first time I tried, I was in my first year of high school. I was pretty overwhelmed and didn’t feel I could talk to anyone.  I ended up in the Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit at David Lawrence Centers . Back home, one day my mom started yelling at me. That triggered something inside me – the desire to try again. If my mom could talk down on me so bad, it seemed like it was just a normal thing that I tried to kill myself. No one – not anyone in the world – seemed to care if I lived or died.

I was Baker Acted many times to the Children’s Crisis Unit for trying to harm myself.  When I went home, things were changed for a moment, then everything went back to the way it was before. With anger and pain, I kept wondering, Why do I have to take my life for people to listen to me?

My last time, I stayed in the Children’s Crisis Unit for a month. (Patients usually stay for two to three days.) I learned that I have bipolar disorder and depression. After leaving the Crisis Unit, I had treatment for three months in a residential program outside the county. Now I’m back home and much better. I continue to get a lot of support and services from David Lawrence Centers, like medication management with a psychiatrist, case management services and individual therapy.

A therapist from the Center comes to my home each week and we talk. I no longer constantly have suicidal thoughts or want to hang myself. I don’t even have to talk to my therapist about this; it’s not there. Now we’re talking about goals — what I want to achieve.  I’m going to graduate high school in June of 2017 and I’m planning to go to college.

I’m still trying to understand my emotions, and am practicing and using my coping skills. I’ve gone on and off my medication – I didn’t want to admit being disabled and didn’t want to feel different. I’m on my medication now. My relationship with my mom is great. At the slightest little thing, she’ll ask me, ‘What’s wrong? Are you ok? Do you need anything?’

As a career goal, I want to help people with disabilities, like me. I want to work with other children who are disabled, mentally or maybe physically.

Here is my message for other children going through what I did:  When you go to David Lawrence Centers, you may feel uncomfortable. You may think it’s not going to work. But it really does. David Lawrence Centers will take the first step. You have to take the next step.

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