Can’t Fake It

I have depression. I have anxiety. And I take medication and see a therapist to deal. There, I’ve said it. And it feels good. But it feels better when I get to tell those that matter the most to me. My students.

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Last week one of my 5th graders asked me about my new tattoo. I was wondering when this was going to happen. I was also wondering what I would say. I had milliseconds to think of the story. And what came out of my mouth was the truth. Unrehearsed. Unfiltered.

I first told this growing group of listeners about Project Semicolon and how I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for years. I told them I took medicine every day so that I could feel less anxious. “So you can be the happy Mr. Buist”, one of my students asked. Yes, so I can be the happy Mr. Buist.

Then I told them about the significance of the word alive. I told them it was in honor of my wife for urging me to go in for a checkup. Turns out I had prostate cancer. It was in honor of Melissa for urging me to see a therapist to help me deal with whatever I was going through. I told them it was in honor of her because I’ve never felt more alive because of her.

I didn’t know how my story was going to come out. I didn’t know what I was going to say or how to say it. So I just told the truth. And that’s the most important lesson I’ve learned from this whole experience. Part of the healing process is talking about it openly.

Thanks to my student for starting the conversation.

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