Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011, is speaking out about her battle with depression. Brought on by bullying by the public Teresa didn't share with anyone her pain until March 2013. Like many she suffered in silence pretending everything was okay. People trying to tear her down wore on her as it would any normal person. Imagine hearing undue criticism every day. If a parent did that to their child we would consider it emotional abuse. That is what we should consider it for people in the public eye who have done nothing to require our ire.
I met Teresa when she graced Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority as the main speaker at the National Convention in Omaha, October 2012. I asked her about her family, her school, her pageant career. She was funny, gracious, altogether the entire package. She was willing to talk about the whys and comment on the things she's not good at, like science. She entered pageants to make money for college. That's it, she wasn't looking for people to say she was pretty or get in the spotlight, she needed to earn money for college since she was from a family with seven children. So, that's what she did and she did it very well, to become the pride of all Nebraska.
There are many Nebraskans who go out into the world to see what else there is to find out that people are mean spirited and nasty. Sometimes it changes them to a nasty person or they also become saddened or depressed by the nasty attitude spewed toward them and those around them. It isn't necessarily that they are targeted as the only one but that they are not used to people being so incredibly mean just for the sake of being mean. In addition, they aren't used to nobody standing up for each other. When they get a chance to come home to Nebraska, many are grateful for the chance to rejuvenate and feel connected to an entire community that supports them. Likewise, Teresa talked with her parents back home in Nebraska to get the support she needed, as it should be. Hopefully, Miss Scanlan will continue to take that opportunity to come home and be enveloped by the love and pride we feel for her so she can be strengthened to go out and stand tall, with the positive energy blocking the nastiness coming her way. And hopefully, not suffer alone in the future.
Her reaching out and telling her story should be a message to us all. Support each other. Lift each other up. Help each other to a better tomorrow. For those suffering, please use Teresa's message as an opportunity to reach out yourselves so as not to suffer alone but to find a solution.
Men and women, girls and boys alike can learn from this lesson. We all have the possibility of suffering from depression. It can affect our learning, our jobs, our friendships. Reach out to those you see suffering and speak out about bullying.
Here's Teresa's story in her own words. Around time 6:25 she makes some especially poignant comments about society and we could all learn that we should do better. We should not bully and we should stop others from bullying. Children used to be taught, "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all." This lesson should be taught again. The amount of hate in the United States is saddening and it doesn't seem to be improving. It will take action on the parts of people in each community to make it stop.
You can also see a clip of Teresa Scanlan on Good Morning America from the morning of Monday, September 9th.