2015-2016 A.C.E. Award Winner

Darkness in Full View

By Audrey Sohr

As I opened my eyes, I could hear the voices around me asking others what had just happened. I found myself lifeless on the cold floor of my school commons, lying there weak and vulnerable, surrounded by friends and teachers, waiting for the paramedics to bring me back to a consciousness with the sharp prick of an IV. I never realized that being the center of attention would require such an ungraceful act.

Even in my altered state, I realized immediately that something had to change. The daily cocktail of medications I had been taking for depression, six pills in all led, to the fainting spell at the most unfortunate time in the most unfortunate place in front of all of my friends. Perhaps at that moment of weakness and frailty, I heard the simultaneous message from both God and my body saying that I had to go back to the “old me.”

My bout with depression, lasting nearly two years, was a scary and uncertain time that affected every aspect of my life, from my personal relationships and my grades to the sports I had enjoyed playing so much. There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed or even speak to my best friends.

I discovered an inner-strength that I didn’t know I had in order to “become me” again. I began a thirty day therapy session called TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, which required that I take off long periods from school and sit in the doctor’s office with my head under a sophisticated machine resembling a woman’s hair dryer from the 1960s. The machine sent signals through my brain to stimulate its return to its original state of normalcy, a tapping on each side of my skull, which, miraculously, over the course of thirty days, relieved my depression.

TMS taught my brain to go to back the way it was. After the first treatment, I already felt it working in a positive way and my mood improved dramatically. I had not remembered being that happy in months and felt “normal” again.

When I finished treatment, I was a completely different person. I knew that I was depression-free, and not only did I know, but everyone around me noticed too. I was never in a bad mood, and I was back into sports just like my friends at school.

I now have a life without medications, one that is filled with confidence, hope, and determination. I am often called upon to offer encouragement and hope to friends and acquaintances who are going through depression to help them turn their lives around and lead productive and depression-free lives. This is my calling. I intend to seek a career path in psychology where I can help others through the darkness of depression.

My experience made me understand that I can turn to myself and ask why I’m doing what I’m doing and how I need to get it done. I am not paralyzed with fear or sadness. I am filled with positive energy and thinking that allows me to cope with the stress and pressure that college and life will bring.

I learned that within me, I have always had the perseverance and the ability to push through when times get hard and to never give up. Through my darkness, I learned that the light at the end of the tunnel would eventually appear with the persistence and faith that I could once again be well. I learned how to take the shame and embarrassment from this illness and turn it around to make me successful in anything I attempt to achieve.

Audrey Sohr

My plans to make the world a better place starts with a quality education majoring in psychology. With a foundation, drive and determination I have exhibited in my high school years, I hope to become a private practice counselor, working with young people to steer them on a course of happy and productive lives. My work can help to acknowledge the humanity of others and the dignity of everyone as well. I believe that I can contribute to young people’s understanding of themselves and their world. I feel that through the challenges they face, I can motivate them toward encouragement, independence, and happiness.

I am willing to not only be the change—I am willing to lead that change as well. Although I am a sole voice in a sea of many others, I have a story to tell. My story and education can serve as a guide for inspiring and motivating young people who have dealt with tough challenges. I am excited to see what the future holds and to see how I can make a difference in the world.

© 2016 by Audrey Sohr. All Rights Reserved.