The summer was coming to an end and it was time to move on to the second grade. I put on my uniform, ate the breakfast my mom made me, and we walked to the bus stop for my first day at a new school.
As we walked I noticed the blue sky and mellow weather of the morning. I felt very happy knowing that a fresh day of school with new friends and new experiences waited ahead of me. I was also nervous because I would be in a completely new environment. We got to the bus stop and I remember meeting another kid there. We talked and even exchanged phone numbers. I got on the bus, happy as ever, and said goodbye to my mother.
It was my first day at a charter school so the day felt unusually long. It was way more rigorous but I connected better with the students. We had similar interests in video games, shows, and humor in general. Many of them are still friends of mine today. I joined the school a bit later than everyone else because I was changing schools a lot at the time, but I still became a part of the school easily and got along with my peers. Had I gone to a different school I may have ended up a very different person.
After a long and fun day at school, my mom picked me up and treated me to McDonald’s, which rarely happened. I got my Happy Meal and felt as if I had lived the best day of my life. My family was going through financial struggles at the time so her doing all of this for me meant a lot. She ordered for me while barely speaking English, woke up early just to walk me to the bus stop, and made sure my first day of school was a good one. I never really realized it back then, but now, those troubles won’t go unnoticed.
I am now in my sophomore year of high school. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years back and it has been a tough change. She went from being a motherly figure taking care of me, to me having to take care of her. The roles of different people in my family shifted. We have all made changes and become accustomed to the new situation. In middle school, I didn’t accept this, and it really took me until my freshman year in high school to accept it and fully come to terms with it.
I now barely remember her without the disease. Alzheimer’s changes the person that it affects and it also made me feel as if I was missing something growing up. My friends had their laundry done, their dinners made, and had their moms to worry about them, to name a few. It was the opposite for me. Watching someone that I looked up to go further and further away from me put me through some hardships growing up.
I can only imagine how hard it was for my dad or other family members. While it may not seem like it, dementia completely changes whoever falls victim to it. Anyone can fall victim to mental illness and it can help to remind people to value and be grateful for the people around them.
Mental illness often comes with the stereotypes of the victim just being dumb, or the illness not being that bad, or the illness not being real in general. Some people have that perception because they believe people take advantage of health care or because they’ve never experienced it. The illness is very real. It is very serious and terrible because there usually isn’t anything that can be done about it. Hopefully, one day, a cure will be found.
My situation made me more grateful for what I have because anything that I’d usually think couldn’t happen to me, could happen to me. I’ll never know when something bad might happen again, so I’ll always live in the present and be happy with my current situation.