BATAVIA – On the outside, Batavia High School junior Brooklyn Belair seems like your typical bubbly, fun-loving teenager.
But since the eighth grade, Belair said she has battled anxiety and depression. That battle is documented in the recently published book, “Brooklyn’s Battle: A Daughter’s War with Anxiety and Depression.”
The book is authored by Belair’s mother, Kimberly Loveday. Belair contributed her poetry and prose to the book.
“Until I had read her poetry, I didn’t know what it was like for her,” Loveday said.
Belair is not alone in her battle. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18. The book is dedicated to the memory of Batavia High School students Quincee Ariel Barnes-Miller, Dylan Wagner and Marmion Academy student Ben Wilkinson of Batavia. All committed suicide in the last three years.
Their suicides hit home for Loveday.
“It was when Dylan and Quincee committed suicide that I kind of stepped back and was like, ‘Wow, this could be really happening in my house,’ and started looking for the changes that were going on and reached out and got some help,” Loveday said. “It was at that point that we realized how serious things were for her.”
For Belair, her poetry represented a way to express her feelings. She said it was a way to get something out in a creative way.
Belair’s therapist had suggested she publish her poetry.
“Her therapist was using it with other clients,” Loveday said. “The therapist had suggested that she publish her poetry because it had been helping a lot of her other clients.”
Adding to Belair’s depression was being diagnosed last year with reflex sympathetic dystrophy/complex regional pain syndrome after suffering a sprained ankle at a Batavia High School cheer camp. It is a chronic systemic disease characterized by severe pain, swelling and changes in the skin.
Belair had planned to be a cheerleader in college.
“It can happen after a minor injury,” Loveday said “There is no cure.”
Belair said she is trying to stay positive, despite the injury, she said “last year was pretty bad after the initial diagnosis.”
“There’s just a lot more in store for life,” she said. “There is always something to live for.”
Belair said she hopes the book helps remove the shame and stigma of having anxiety and depression and that it will compel other teenagers to seek help. Belair is part of Party in the Park, which hopes to educate the public about depression while raising money for Batavia-based Suicide Prevention Services of America.
In July, the event raised more than $11,000 for Suicide Prevention Services of America. Party in the Park organizer Emily Roberts said she appreciated Belair’s efforts to put a spotlight on the issue of teen depression.
“Brooklyn and her story really embody the vision of Party in the Park,” Belair said. “The ultimate goal is getting more teens to reach out when they are in trouble.”
“Brooklyn’s Battle” is available for sale at www.brooklynsbattle.com,www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com, along with K. Hollis Jewelers, 147 S. Randall Road, Batavia, Bliss Practice, 16 N. Riverside Ave., St. Charles, and Performance Clinics, 1605 W. Wilson St., Batavia.
Want to know more about the book, “Brooklyn’s Battle: A Daughter’s War with Anxiety and Depression?” Visit www.brooklynsbattle.com.