Photo credit: Bradley Parker

Emma

 

I am the girl who will smile and say hi if she sees you in the hall.

 

I am the girl who will always say “I’m fine, thanks for asking. How are you?” when you ask her how she’s doing.

 

I am the girl who will stay up all night baking cookies for her friends, classmates, and co-workers because she knows how happy it makes them.

 

I am also the girl who, on the night of March 19, 2015, left her apartment without her shoes and coat, without her cell phone, and without her keys. The temperature was well below zero and the wind chill only made it seem colder. But she was mad at herself and not thinking straight.

I am the girl who ran in her sock feet along Dundonald Street and then down University Avenue to the walking bridge. Who, shivering, made her way to the middle of the bridge.

 

I am the girl who, for the second time in six months, stood on the railing and considered jumping. Who looked at the freezing cold water and said, “Please God, let this be quick.”

 

Maybe you know her as a straight-A student.

 

Maybe you know her as the editor-in-chief of The Brunswickan.

 

Maybe you know her as just a shy and quiet anyone.

 

But I want you to know her as the girl who didn’t jump.

 

Who, limping on near-frozen feet, left the bridge and started back up the street. That girl made it back home that night, into the arms of her loving siblings and boyfriend.

 

I want you to know her as the girl who still went to class the next day. Who still had everything done and was ahead of the rest of the class.

 

I want you to know her as a fighter.

 

Because that is who I am.

 

I am Emma McPhee and though I sometimes try to hide it, I have been battling depression and anxiety and all the baggage that comes with it since I was ten years old. It hasn’t gotten any easier but I’m learning that that’s ok. Because maybe I had no say in whether I would have mental illness, but I sure as hell get a say in how I deal with it. And I will never let it hold me back.

 

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