An Open Letter to Angel Billy

To the educational assistant who always believed in me,

Out of all my years in grade school, no educational assistant (EA) understood or believed in me as much as you did.

I met you on the first day of grade 9. I loved having you as a EA. You did everything right. You helped me with my education as you’re supposed to, but you also helped me personally and made sure I was always okay.

Apparently, this sort of relationship was frowned upon. But I also hated all the EAs that followed their “job description”. That must be saying something.

When the others were harsh, I refused to do my work and would even throw small fits.

What did help me get my work done was the fact that you were understanding, motivating, patient, calming.

You knew that grades weren’t the most important thing for me. The most important thing was making sure I was okay and didn’t go insane when struggling with my depression and anxiety.

Whenever I had a breakdown, or you sensed that I was starting to, you pulled me aside and calmed me.

With others, they ignored it and sent me to class.

You and I both know that class was not on the priority list during those times, and that class certainly was not going to help anything.

You were the only EA/teacher that ever attempted to listen to me and understand me.

Everyone else had no idea what I was going through internally nor did they care enough to listen.

They always thought the way I was acting was a behaviour or disability issue and that I was acting this way just because I wanted to. So they got frustrated. But you knew better.

You knew that I had potential and saw beyond the way I was acting. You knew that I was smart, so when I refused to do work, you knew something was wrong.

You never thought it was because I was lazy or because I had an bad attitude.

You, in a way, saved my life.

I had no idea I was struggling with depression. Until one day, during a period of my life where I was sleep deprived and crying a lot, you pulled me into a private room and asked if I was okay and told me you were worried.

You didn’t suggest I was depressed. You just told me something wasn’t right and that I might want to get checked out.

I have no idea what would have happened if you didn’t “break the rules” and didn’t care about my wellbeing. I have no idea what would’ve happened if it just went on undiagnosed. I hid it well and you were the only one that saw through me. So, in that way, you did save me.

I’ve been out of high school for over 3 years now. You and I have gotten closer over the years. You are my friend now. I help you and you help me. I love spending time with you and talking to you. Our struggles and passions bring us closer together. We have both been through lots, more than we know. But we’re getting through it day by day. We fight for ourselves, each other, and others.

Never thought I’d say this but I’m so glad you convinced me to go to Central. It’s amazing. Thank you.

Thank you for everything. Thank you for going out of the way to help me in high school. Thank you for all the times you took me out of the class during a breakdown or anxiety attack. Thank you for not being like the others. But also thank you for continuing to support and encourage me. Thank you for being my friend, even after everything we’ve been through.

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