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If: A Teenager Talks About Mental Health And Hope

Masaad Patterson
Basim Blunt
Masaad Patterson

For African-American teenagers, suicide is the third leading cause of death, but many are afraid to seek help, let alone talk about it on the radio. Today on Dayton Youth Radio we have a story that helps us understand what teenagers go through when they struggle with depression. It's from Thurgood Marshall STEM High School, and a note to listeners: this story addresses suicidal thoughts. 

My name is Masaad Patterson, and I'm an 18 year old senior student at Thurgood Marshall STEM High School. Today I'll be telling a story about depression. Depression can make you feel tired, unfocused, and unmotivated to do even the simplest tasks.

I've been depressed for about as long as I can remember, and it's caused quite a few issues with how I've dealt with things such as trying to enjoy my time on a field trip, how I socialize with my peers, or going to family events and being chastised for not being into the party and smiling.

I remember one day where I had lied to my mom about being sick because I was just too depressed to want to even get out of bed or leave the house. I did my best to fight my way out of these episodes by burying myself in things that I loved, gaming and arts and crafts. I felt like a large weight was on my body so I started lifting for exercise. I was hearing voices seeing things and felt empty almost every single day. So I took those voices and used them for my own purposes. I created new characters like Soda Can Jones. I couldn't escape violent thoughts so I played video games like Doom and Devil May Cry.

I would do my best to keep my head up and surround myself with the things I loved and the people that cared, but it got worse. My depression got so bad that I have been to the hospital three different times for suicidal thoughts. They were nice to me at the hospital but that's just them doing their job. I did learn quite a few things in the hospital. I learned a lot of techniques, coping mechanisms and skills.

Many creators turned all their bad situations into good ones. Some writers only got that way because writing was their escape from real life. Artists, gamers, and actors all came from somewhere and discovered their passion some way.

Fast forwarding to the present, and now I'm feeling much better. Graduation is about to come up, and my mother, father, brothers and sister get to see me walk across the stage. I can't wait for the next chapter in my life to open. I'm going to college all the way out in Utah. It's a really far away journey, but hey, it's where I want to go. I want to go to college for video game design; I want to be a video game designer.

If I hadn't gotten the help and medicine that I require from the hospital, if I hadn't surrounded myself with things that I love, if I hadn't turned those bad situations into good qualities, then I wouldn't be here to tell you my story or to let you know to keep your head up and relax. You'll find that one thing that'll bring you some peace.

You see, depression is malleable; you can manipulate it. I can take my life back. 

Massad Patterson is a senior at Thurgood Marshall STEM High School. Special thanks to Nathan Shields and Mary McKnight. Learn more at the school's website: https://www.dps.k12.oh.us/thurgood/  Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.

Basim has worked in the media for over twenty years, as an A&R rep with Capitol Records and as a morning drive show producer. He is a filmmaker, media arts adjunct, and also a digital editing teacher in the Dayton Metro area. In 2012 he joined WYSO as a Community Voices Producer, and his work has earned him a “New Voices” Scholar award by (AIR) Association of Independents in Radio. Basim has produced the award-winning documentary Boogie Nights: A History of Funk Music in Dayton. He also served as Project Manager for ReInvention Stories, a multimedia docu-series produced by Oscar-winning filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert. In 2020, Blunt received a PMJA (Public Media Journalists Association) award for his WYSO series Dayton Youth Radio, for which he is the founding producer and instructor. Basim spins an eclectic mix of funk, soul, and classic R&B every Thursday night from 8 p.m to 10 p.m., as host of the 91.3 FM music show Behind the Groove.