My father used to walk by 162nd Street on a regular basis, seeing the logo for The Child Center of NY and not giving it a passing thought. Earlier this year, I was having some personal problems, and I told my dad I needed help. I was pretty sure I needed to talk to someone about troubles with peer interactions and relationships, and how it was affecting me on multiple levels. My dad remembered The Child Center.
I’m 17 years old, and I go to Queens Vocational in Sunnyside. I’m on an afterschool robotics team. We build robots and compete every year at the Javits Center. I try to keep my grades in the 90s range, so I’m fairly confident that I’ll get into NYU to study electrical and computer engineering. I visited the school, and it’s my first choice.
It’s all worth it, but most nights I don’t get home until after 8 pm. I take two trains and a bus to get to the Jamaica Clinic from Sunnyside. I’ve been seeing Ashley Colletti there once a week ever since that day last spring when I walked in. I didn’t have any expectations before I stepped in the door, but I met Ashley right away, and she put me at ease.
One of our strategies is to imagine a tape recorder whenever I get anxious, and to stop the tape. Every week, I report on the negative thoughts, and we discuss how I can use the recorder to regain control over them.
I have felt undervalued by my peers, but I’m learning not to overthink things as much and that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. My greatest struggle growing up was learning to trust my parents again; due to circumstances, I was primarily raised by my grandmother, so I never really knew them. This distrust has caused tension between my father and me, and my grandmother as well. I strive to become independent from them, and in the process, to learn who I truly am.
Ashley says I’ve made a lot of progress in overcoming my chronic depression. My Beck Depression Inventory score fell from 25 in April to 17 in November 2015, and my “About My Life” SIQ results dropped from 20 in April to 9 in November – with lower scores meaning I’m getting better.
And I do feel a lot better day-to-day and am more open to the possibility of making friends or having romantic relationships. Talking about things has become easier, but sometimes, if I don’t feel like talking, I’ll use robotics or art class as a means to express myself. Once I made Ashley a small painting which she keeps hanging in her office: It’s a male figure standing in darkness, holding his own brain. The brain’s thought bubble contains a mix of things that I feel and things I find myself saying, some good, some bad.
I take what Ashley has taught me and I share that, teach it. Things would be so much different if I hadn’t come here, and I owe that to The Child Center. I’ve been surprised by a lot. My perspective has changed.