The light at the end of the tunnel

Kenda Farhat, Reporter

Depression is a problem that has recently had light shed on it in the modern media. People of all ages struggle with it and the rigorous process of coming to terms with the fact. This was no different for North High’s own Class of 2002 graduate and Language Arts department teacher, Megan Von Fange. At age 14, through 8th grade and Freshman year, she realized that she felt different, and ‘not quite right,’ overcome with darkness that she did not see spread over her fellow peers. This was a constant feeling that she did not fully come to terms with until college, when she accepted the help needed.

Growing up with a mother as a counselor, Von Fange felt inclined to rebel against the idea of taking medication: “I felt like they wanna put me on medication instead of dealing with underlying problems causing it.” There was the constant desire to not want to be different and broken compared to others. “It’s easy to say that maybe talking can help, but the problem with depression is that even if you talk, it doesn’t always work. It has you wondering, ‘why do I feel like this? My life isn’t that bad!’ but in reality, that doesn’t help.”

She said that she was on a dangerous on-and-off cycle with medication, sometimes feeling like she can do it by herself, but then realizing otherwise. “Some parents do not understand when kids need help, they think they can fix it with prayer and talking to the kid.”

Von Fange believes strongly that the school environment should be supportive and welcoming: “Kids need to know if they’re struggling, they can reach out to a counselor or teacher if their family doesn’t understand. We have work to do to spread this message, because it is not just sadness.” As she got older, she learned to cope in healthier ways and developed some strategies for dark times. If she is struggling, she has a good, honest relationship with her doctor wherein she can talk about problems. “Some days, I have to miss school because I can’t get out of bed and am too depressed. Society needs conversations, we should support mental health days, because sometimes you simply can’t function,” Von Fange said.

Finally finding her voice and learning to process her feelings helped Von Fange develop healthy coping mechanisms, and defeat the fear of reaching out when help is needed. “I learned to accept that I can’t control a bad day like I can’t control that I have a cold,” she explained. Her passion is in helping kids find their true selves, teaching them to be authentic, sharing experiences to create support, and watch them grow from unsure to confident. Though bad days are inevitable, family, watching new shows, sitting outside on a gorgeous day make the fight worth it. The bad days remind everybody of why the good days are so appreciated.