My Good Vibes Snapshot: Xavier Eales
When Xavier Eales got up to address his school assembly, most assumed it was just going to be another School Captain’s speech. Instead it was an emotional and very personal account of his long struggle with depression. Few had known that underneath the ‘happy mask’, all had not been OK for Xavier. Teenconfidential had the privilege of catching up with him to find out what was behind his decision to open up and what the reaction has been:
” when I was named College Captain late last year, I made the decision there and then that I was going to speak up. I knew I had to do it. At that point I hadn’t exactly told many people about the depression. A few people knew, my parents and a couple of others, but opening up about it was what I wanted and needed to do. It was mainly because I could hear my Year 8-self inside my head screaming out at me that that’s exactly what he needed to hear. I’ve known that I wanted to speak about it for a while. There have been a few logistical issues. It took a lot of planning. I had been driving it with the deputy principal and he was really passionate about it as well. The speech itself took a long time to formulate…we had to talk to the counselling team to make sure we were getting it right.
Except for a very few people, no one knew what I was going to say at that assembly. All they knew was that the theme was ‘friends listen’ and it was to do with mental health.
Normally I’m a pretty confident speaker, but I remember feeling absolutely sick-I wanted to throw up before I was walking up on stage. Just knowing that there were 1500 faces in front of me who didn’t know what I was going to say… they were thinking it would just be another school captain’s speech, like every other one. I was incredibly nervous and I don’t normally get nervous when I speak. I also didn’t think I’d get emotional to be honest, but it felt so emotional when I got up there. Almost from the first word, I lost that conviction in my voice that I normally have. I could tell I was vulnerable, but I was thinking to myself: “I doing this, I’ve committed to this and so I’m going to do it well and show people that it really means something to me”.
There has been an overwhelmingly positive response. There were a few negative comments, but not many. Since the speech there have been messages flooding in. You get two types of messages. You get the ones from people saying ‘great work’, ‘that was very brave’. Then there’s the other type which say ‘hey, I’ve suffered this myself’. I couldn’t be happier that so many people have said that to me, because a lot of those people haven’t told their parent or friends. I certainly haven’t told anyone on their behalf, I think it’s still their freedom to make that choice. I feel quite humbled that they’ve told me and I’ve come up with ways to direct them to the right people. My speech was delivered in the context of a roomful of guys. It’s been interesting that some of the reactions I’ve received have been ‘finally, you’ve said it for boys’.
I think the message was well received from the speech, but I think the positive reaction was a testament to the fact that so many people have wanted to say this and so many people have wanted to hear it. This has been an issue which has been bubbling inside everyone’s conscience for years, it has been demanding someone to talk about it. I think probably anyone could have taken the microphone and it would have had the same effect….”
Thanks so much for talking with us Xavier. What you did took an enormous amount of courage-you’ll never really know what a genuine difference your words may have made to someone else’s life. Wishing you all the best for your final year of school and all that lies beyond. Take care, teenconfidential
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