This is the story of Mya, an affectionate, loving teenager who struggled with depression and received life-saving help from A New Leaf’s Counseling Center.
Thirteen-year-old Mya was a recluse in her room when she wasn’t in school, suffering from severe depression and anxiety—unable to cope with life on the outside. She had no friends, and she was fearful of the sounds on the street and the bright sun outside her window. She liked the darkened mood of her bedroom where she would rest despondent on her bed, staring straight up for hours. Nothing could motivate her to break out of her shell.
Her mother Susanne was beside herself. She remembered her own struggles as a teenager when she was fraught with a bi-polar condition, depression and cutting behavior. Susanne felt she was looking at herself as she begged Mya to go shopping and socialize with others. “The changes in Mya were gradual, and I felt like she was slipping away to a purgatory of no escape,” said Susanne. "I was terrified.”
But Mya refused to budge. Even though she did well in school, her anxiety created distance between herself and her parents. She was too depressed to enjoy the usual things a teenager makes time for: going to movies, dancing, participating in recreational sports, eating out with friends.
Susanne blamed herself for Mya’s troubles. She believed Mya was depressed as a result of Susanne’s genetic disposition, inherited from her own angst-ridden teenage years. Susanne had received help from community nonprofit A New Leaf in the past when she had fallen on hard times, and so she thought of the organization that had once given her hope for a better future. She discovered that A New Leaf operates a Counseling Center for children and teenagers suffering from emotional and social challenges.
Soon she had the phone in her hand, and she made an appointment to see Katina, A New Leaf’s therapist. At first, Mya was reluctant to participate. Mya was fearful to open up to her therapist and let the emotions bottled inside out into the world. But stops and starts turned into regular stream of visits to Katina’s office – and gradually Mya warmed to her new friend.
“Katina has been so caring and supportive,” said Susanne. “She speaks to Mya on her own level and helps her see the world in a new way.” With Katina’s encouragement, Mya signed up for a Monday group session with other teenagers her own age, hosted by A New Leaf. Susanne says this informal setting helped Mya open up to others and soon she was texting and befriending her new circle of contacts.
“Mya has truly done a 180,” said Susanne. “I am astonished at how much she has changed for the better. She volunteers to go shopping with me and to run errands. She’s doing well in school. A New Leaf worked a miracle in transforming Mya’s life.”
Now thirteen-year-old Mya has her sights on a career in the air force, and she wants to create anime to sell to friends and classmates. She keeps her door open to her family at night and she spends evenings watching television with her mom.
“I am so grateful to A New Leaf for this incredible improvement in my daughter’s life,” said Susanne. “I know that the staff at A New Leaf are experts in helping children improve their lives. Katina has brought immense empathy, clarity of purpose, and skills in her therapy with Mya. We will be grateful to her for the rest of our lives.”
A New Leaf operates two counseling centers, one for the East Valley and one for the West Valley. In addition, A New Leaf manages after school programs and a Parent and Children Teaming Together program. For more information, call 480-969-4024.