To the Teacher Who Showed Compassion When I Was Struggling

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By: Abigail O'Laughlin

Dear Teacher,

Walking into the hallways on the first day of 8th grade, I never fathomed that I would not be able to finish school that year. I never imagined that I would be unable to eat the large bag of Sour Patch Kids I received for my birthday from you. I never imagined that I would simply cover my plate with carrots and apples during our party in history. However, I developed an eating disorder anyways and you, my history teacher and yearbook advisor, made opening up about it a little bit easier.

The only other person that knew about my eating disorder was my best friend. I recruited her to help me talk to you. After asking to talk to you one day, you pulled us both out of P.E. and into your classroom. I laugh about it now, but I was unable to talk because whenever I would try, I would burst into tears. So, my friend told you what was going on while I calmed myself down. She told you how I called her the day before, crying because I desperately wanted a granola bar but I just couldn’t let myself eat it. How I literally spread myself thin trying to juggle exercising and schoolwork and obsessing about food. As you sat across from me, you did not judge me. You did not question my actions or claim that my suffering was in vain. Instead, you listened and accepted my struggle. You did not try to “fix” me, but you offered me advice on how to tell my parents. You, a mother of 3, told me that if I were your child, you would want me to tell you. Later that day, I mustered up the courage to tell my parents. They were probably more grateful for you than I was. I think that because of the kindness I received that day, it made my initial attempt at recovery a little bit easier, and my faith in others a little bit stronger.

I believe that more teachers should be like you. I believe that more teachers should listen and be compassionate and take time out of their busy day to talk to their students. For many students, you guys spend more time with us than our parents do. I felt comfortable walking into your classroom, which is much more than I can say about my current U.S. history teacher. Not only was that beneficial to my recovery, but it made going to school while depressed a little more bearable. I can never thank you enough. What you did may not seem like a lot, but it is something I will never forget or stop being grateful for.

Thank you, so much,

Abby

About the Author: Abigail O’Laughlin resides in Destin, Florida. At Project HEAL, Abby is dedicated to spreading awareness of eating disorders throughout her local community. She can often be found discussing mental health, photographing her best friends, petting her 3 cats, and spending way too much at Starbucks. Abby’s favorite ice cream flavor is Huckleberry!