Junior Lyrica MacDonald Uses Social Media to Support Fellow Students

Junior Lyrica MacDonald started the Twitter account @wphs_help in March to provide students with mental health issues (or anyone who simply needs someone to talk to) advice or a helping hand via Direct Message.

“I believe that creating a safe place for people to openly talk about their internal struggles will open dialogue about mental health. I want people to feel supported and comfortable. I want people to know that they aren’t defective just because their brains function differently than others,” said MacDonald, who has had Major Depressive Disorder since the age of eight.

“Since I was so young it’s often hard to tell the difference between Lyrica and the symptoms of my illness,” she said. “For me it creates even taller, thicker walls around my heart. I realize now that blaming my parents or others for ‘making me this way’ isn’t going to make me any happier. Once I started to look within I realized that I’m not going to allow anyone to take the promise of a happy life away from me. I have learned to grit my teeth and push past the [discomfort] that always comes with depression. I’m a very emotionally resilient person now and that’s all thanks to my disposition.”

MacDonald also started the account because she feels it would be easier for a student to open up to someone of their own age.

“Sometimes adults think our teenage experiences mirror their own. Not only have they forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager but life was a lot different back then. I think it’s important for students to help each other out. Who else is going to understand as immediately as a peer?” she said adding, “If you think about it sharing painful experiences with others is one of deepest forms of connection. I think once people open themselves up and figure out their own identity and set themselves apart from their disorders they can truly love and be loved.”

MacDonald had nothing but appreciation for the school’s Social Worker Whitney McDonough, who helped MacDonald with her own issues.

“’I’ve worked a lot with Mrs. McDonough and she has changed my life for the better,” MacDonald said. “She replies to her emails as quick as she can and always makes time to talk with students. Mrs. McDonough is an incredible listener who really tries to understand and empathize with you. There are so many programs available in this area that she has brought to my attention. If you need someone to talk to or if you need help balancing school and everything else in a teenagers life she is a great person to go to.”

One of the programs mentioned by MacDonald is called a flash pass, which allows for students with anxiety to quickly leave the room to take an emergency breather.

As to what she wants other students to know about mental illnesses, MacDonald said, “ Being mentally ill is just as real as being physically Ill. Just because you may not be able to see the problem like you would with a physical illness, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If someone you know is showing symptoms of depression or anxiety or any other illness it doesn’t mean they are rotten. They are still good inside and they are still the person they were when they entered your life.”