Living in the Shadows

Link for the signed video article: https://www.facebook.com/buffn.blue/videos/1934612963472052/

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Since I came to Gallaudet, at first I thought I could make a fresh start and forget everything negative that happened to me. I always viewed Gallaudet University to be wondrous, educating and amazing in every area. After prompting from my high school teacher, I dived in and ventured out to good ol’ Washington D.C. Unfortunately, reality came knocking on my door and as reluctant I was, I had to answer it eventually.

I realized everyone that wants that college experience didn’t know it wasn’t all sunshine and flowers. To admit, I was foolish to still believe that I wouldn’t be impacted by the negative situation and thought I was safe on campus, but I wasn’t. Washington D.C has had a lot of protests frequently occurring recently, and that has really influenced my anxiety, making me sheltered and glued to my bedroom, in security. I would feel more safe and secure if I had a better support system HERE at Gallaudet, in which I am not alone in. I have seen conversations lingering about the lack of support as a student here on campus.

You could always come home. We won’t be mad. I love you.” Was the text I got from my mother when I expressed my concerns and frustrations to her after a month of attending Gally (Gallaudet University) and logically, I could, but my anxiety prevented me from saying yes and packing up my things.

‘Why? I could just leave and never come back.’ That thought was and is still constant in the back of my head every day and you wouldn’t even know it. Yet, I couldn’t muster up the courage to say yes or come home to pitying looks and whispers that I could read their lips before they turned away such as, “‘Poor child.’ ‘She obviously couldn’t handle the stress.’ ‘Think she won’t make it on her own?’” and many more.  

As a deaf person, I don’t want to be looked at as someone that couldn’t do it simply because the reality of the world is too harsh. Also, I feel like the deaf community would judge me for not being secure enough with my personal life decisions. It does not help that the deaf community has cliques established, especially those that are related to where you come from such as having a deaf family, graduating from a deaf school, and so forth. It is hard to leave a place with uncertainty with a potential of getting side eyed and looked down upon from the closely knit, yet divided deaf community.

Too pessimistic, I know, but this is what happens when I have anxiety and depression and I have to live with them every-day while going to class, eating, or talking to my classmates at Gally. Again, due to the cliques, legacy formed and passed on, there is a huge void of support, and the support would help overcome anxiety and depression.

Gallaudet University provides excellent educational resources and is inclusive in every way. However, with recent events happening, my anxiety has increased and it bothers me greatly when these concerns seem brushed off or answered with, “Oh, you’ll be fine. Nobody will be hurt here,” with full confidence.

I feel frustrated because despite Gallaudet trying to help us, the school often doesn’t think about the ones in the shadows such as myself.  Shadows are not obvious, as they can be small, big, permanent, and chronic. Shadows, like myself, are invisible because of silent mental health afflictions like depression and anxiety. With the crime reports popping up from Emergesense and events in the dorms, I don’t feel like I’m part of that ‘college crowd’ or rather just an average college student.

I kind of feel like the students are to partly blame because they don’t always make the right decisions and no matter what the school does, they either refuse to use common sense, resent the hearing students due to them using basic ASL skills, or blame the school for their own shortcomings.

Despite all of that, I am still on the fence about leaving Gallaudet University as I feel I don’t belong here as a deaf person and as someone with a disability. Although, I do not want to be known as that person who couldn’t handle everything and dropped out.  

Let me think about it. I love you too,” was my last text to my mother before I slept, body fully relaxed and not to wake up until morning.

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