Many people struggle with “monsters in their closets.” That’s how one Toronto Grade 8 student described his own struggle with mental health in a winning essay he penned as part of the Turning Points program, which emphasizes character awareness and literacy skills for students in Grades 6 to 12.
As today marks National Child and Youth Mental Health Day, the closet monster was a timely subject for the John English Junior Middle School student to tackle. That he opened up about his struggles by submitting his essay to be featured at a May 5 ceremony at North Toronto Collegiate Institute speaks to the power of the program to provide young people with an important opportunity for self-reflection through which they can find strength.
In this particular essay for the Turning Points Ceremony, in which 23 students participated, the boy likened his undisclosed mental health struggles to the “Monster in the Closet.” For him, his “turning point” was turning his struggles into something he can share and be open about with others.
As he says, “you’re probably wondering what my Torturer is, but does it really matter? Everyone has one, whether they notice it or not. We all have a pain in ourselves, pain we keep trying to fight by ourselves. We can’t. I can’t. It won’t happen right away, but we need to find people to fight with us to help us defeat the Monster in the Closet.”
You can read the student’s essay submission below.
The Monster in the Closet
It’s interesting how young one can start. The problem is, people think they’re alone. Once they begin, they become hooked and it’s difficult to stop. They keep it in the closet and wait until they’re alone, take it out, then put it back. But every time they take it out, they let it take a piece of them. Eventually the monster in the closet begins to take them over until it’s all they have. The world begins to crumble and they feel like there’s nothing they can do. I was in that position. I tried to face the Monster in the Closet by myself and I failed. Then I realized there’s something I can do.
I opened my closet about four years ago. It all started with looking at the Monster. Then again. And again. I knew it was a Killer. I knew it wasn’t something I should be with, but the Killer was beautiful on the outside.
It seduced me. It’s true self was hidden behind a mask of false beauty, false satisfaction that felt too real. The feeling the Lurer gives is satisfying but temporary. Because of that, I kept going back to get another serving of addictive, poisoned food.
The whole time, I knew what it really was. I’ve known people who’ve escaped the Capturer, but it kept whispering in my head, telling me to be ashamed. Not to tell anybody because they’d disapprove of my weakness, that it’d be a sign of helplessness to ask for help. In reality, I would be only becoming stronger with others by my side.
It was approximately two weeks ago that I began to fight the Monster in a way that would let me win. I was at a youth retreat with people I’ve known for a long time, people that have escaped their closet, people that I never bothered to talk to about my Monster.
It was on the first day that I started talking, and I’m glad I did. I found that one of my closest friends was fighting the same Demon. On the second day, I found out that another one of my closest friends who had escaped the same Demon was being lured back.
I haven’t won yet. My monster is still there, but I’m fighting. I’m united with people that face Creatures of their own. Sometimes battles are won, sometimes they’re lost. Either way, the war is not over. I, along with the warriors beside me, face the struggles day by day.
You’re probably wondering what my Torturer is, but does it really matter? Everyone has one, whether they notice it or not. We all have a pain in ourselves, pain we keep trying to fight by ourselves. We can’t. I can’t. It won’t happen right away, but we need to find people to fight with us to help us defeat the Monster in the Closet.