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2017 – Alexis Gardner, Bonneville HS, Awardee

Mar 30, 2017

I love shopping I’ve always loved shopping, what teenage girl doesn’t? The only problem is, most girls know how much change to give when at the checkout counter. As for me this concept as always been a living hell. Since I was eight I don’t know how to count money, tell time or even do basic math and English. This was impacted due to my birth mother who suffered from bipolar and never forced me to go to school. Most of the time she kept me home to hide the bruises, and other forms of psychical abuse she inflicted on me during one of her “episodes” I never knew my dad, sadly neither did my mom… my mom coped with this by smoking, yelling and throwing just about anything at anyone who made her mad, which unlikely for me, just happened to be me. I never had to do homework, or chores, or even bath myself. I spend most of my Early childhood hiding, running away from my mothers anger. I never had anytime to worry about school. I also had to deal with the strange men that my mother would bring into the house which caused my mother and I much trauma. The summer of my third grade year I was removed from the home and put into five different fosters homes all over Eastern Utah. I finally gave up on ever finding a family that would love me. I longed for a dad, who would beat up the bad guys, and even a cute dog I could play fetch with. Family after family I went, one I went too was severally abusive and I was removed from the home after six months. When I turned ten, I met the Gardners and I thought here we go again, another place, another family, more people I have to meet then loose. Later on they adopted me, I got everything I wanted a beautiful mom, a awesome dad, two cool brothers and two dogs, what more could I want? Things were amazing, my mom really helped me in school. Everything was looking up until I hit junior high and the first wave crashed. I couldn’t understand anything, I got yelled at by my teachers for playing dumb, made fun of by students, school become hell for me, I hated going I would even fake illness so I didn’t have to deal with being humalited every time the teacher called my name. I got sent nasty texts telling me to kill myself, calling me crude and hateful names. Finally the pressure was too much. And I began to self harm to deal with the complete pressure I dealt with everyday. We began therapy, we tried ADHD medication to help me focus, Anti- depressants to help with the depression, anxiety and PTSD from my past. I was put onto Nightmare meds to help me sleep, it was no use the depression got worse so did my grades, I got more and more behind. When eighth grade came I told my dad I needed to be hospitalized in fear of ending my life. By the time I went into my junior year of high school I had been hospitized nine times including the state hospital where I spent my ninth grade year. I had finally hit rock bottom, I was miserable I thought about suicide every second of everyday. I left school everyday to go to the hospital. Finally my senior year came, and something inside my brain clicked after getting so far behind, to the point where my teachers, parents, and I knew I wasn’t graduating. I did it. I knew my past didn’t define me. I put down my knife and picked up a pencil, my scars healed and my smile grew. I began to enjoy life. I raised my hand in class and asked questions. Yes I have a learning disability but it’s no longer who I am. My grades slowly went up, I no longer missed school. And today I’m finally on track to graduate after everyone even myself who told me I’d never make it, I live life everyday and I love that I’m alive, I love my struggles because they make me unique. I never gave up and I finally reached my goals. And I’m able to tell myself that even though I’m not as smart the rest of my class, I sure do have a lot more dedication then they do. And now everyday I have a reason to smile for I know that all that struggle has made me the strong, hard working girl I am today and nothing can stand in my way of being true to myself and my dreams and that to me is the meaning of resilience.

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