OAKS Series: Lydia Thompson

(ABC 6 News) – In the English classroom of Century High School, it’s clear that Lydia Thompson was a gifted student and poet.

“She was writing phenomenal things that reflected her life experiences,” said Jean Prokott a former teacher of Lydia’s at Century High.

But underneath it all, Lydia struggled with anxiety and mental health her entire life.

“My family has like a pretty prominent problem with mental health, and it’s affected me and also my family essentially since I started school, so like kindergarten,” said Lydia.

The classroom was scary, somewhere she never felt confident.

“When you have dyslexia and when you have mental health issues, it’s like going behind the wheel without seeing sometimes,” she said. “That’s really difficult.”

That’s why Lydia celebrated the little things, to her they weren’t small at all.

I remember the first time I read a novel it was like this big thing, I was like “oh my god! I did it!” she said. “or when I first made a friend or the first time I spoke in front of a class. It’s celebrating those small accomplishments because they really are big things for a person that struggles with it.”

A child who once couldn’t speak out in school, now a college freshman working for her PhD to help other kids find their confidence too.

While it’s been hard, Lydia says she wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve gained so much from those experiences as well, I became more empathetic, I got better at listening to people. I think it made me a better person in the end.”